Dir: Josh Cooley. Starring; Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts. G. Color. 100 min.
Pixar began its dominance in the world of children’s animation with the first ever full-length CGI animated film “Toy Story” way back in 1995. For my money still its best to this day. Nearly 25 years later the adventures of Woody and Buzz continue to warm the hearts of children and parents. With the latest installment the franchise has finally grown to the point of… kinda stale.
Look, I am not calling “Toy Story 4” a bad movie. If you have children this is certainly a legitimate option in bringing them to the theatre. It is a solid kids pic, and that is the problem. TS-4 is a complete retread of the previous installments with no new theme. The first film was about the fear of being forgotten. The second, a tale of not realizing how good life is when a new lifestyle looks great on paper. The third, a journey of growing up and coming to terms with passing on ones experiences to the next generation. For this one it is about all of those things and nothing more.
We open nine years in the past when the original kid toy owner Andy still plays with the crazy group. During a rainstorm the favorite race car ‘RC’ is stuck in a ditch. A rescue mission ensues in which Woody’s beloved Bo Peep (Annie Potts) is lost. Cut to modern day.
Bonnie has inherited the toy crew from Andy and loves them all. The young girl is scared to start her first day of school and Woody, being the nice guy he is (which is why he’s Tom Hanks), sneaks into her backpack after her parents refuse to let her bring a toy. Woody sees a scared Bonnie create her own toy named Forky and instantly falls in love with it. The cowboy is determined to make sure this child is able to enjoy her new buddy.
A side note; Forky (Tony Hale) is the best part of this otherwise by-the-numbers experience. He is a classic clueless character that simply wants to live life as a fork. Who doesn’t? Clever jokes are made about a little girl being in love with a spork glued to two pieces of thin wood for feet that has no idea what is happening. The most inspired writing involves Forky and his set of googled eyes.
Long story short, Forky escapes and Woody goes after him. They end up at an antique shop where Woody sees Bo-Peep, who has become a badass, and is confronted with the main villain Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks). Gabby Gabby’s voice box has run out and is after Woody’s so she can be a complete toy again. A litany of ventriloquist dolls are her crew of thugs. Forky is captured and becomes her bait. Woody has a limited amount of time before Bonnie and her parents continue on in their RV during a summer vacation.
Meanwhile, a crew of other antique toys join the rescue mission because Forky has an owner. They are envious as they do not have a “person”. The top one is Duke Caboom, voiced by Keanu Reeves. Look, I like Keanu and this is not on him, but this character is completely meaningless. If this movie was made in the 15 year span between “The Matrix” and “John Wick” nobody would give a darn about him voicing the character because he does nothing other than one or two funny poses. Critics and twitter users are going nuts about how he steals the show. How? Please give me one reason.
I’m sure you are wondering what is going on with Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the crew. So was I. This movie spends so much time establishing new characters that, other than Forky, are uninteresting from head to toe. Give me more angry pig, disgruntled potato head, and frightened dinosaur are phrases I never thought would come out of my mouth. Sometimes sticking with the basics is the appropriate choice.
“Toy Story 4” does not really have anything new or original to present to kids in a broader idea way which is what has made so many Pixar films classics. It is more like an episode of Saturday morning cartoons instead of a classic film. The feeling of ‘look how much money we’ll make’ permeates on screen instead of ‘we can teach kids something’ is undeniably clear. This is not even close to “Cars” bad in any way but with the bar being set at “Toy Story” level TS-4, and I’ll keep the language clean, is half way there between good and poopy-poopy.
Suck Factor: 3out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!