Toy Story 4: I May Never Look at an Antique Shop The Same Way Again (Review)

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Can you believe the first Toy Story, the Original, was in 1995?  Even the latest in the series (before this one) was in 2010, so color me surprised to see another Toy Story here in  2019. I don’t even think I’ve seen the second and the third movies. Well I’ve seen them, several times in fact, but not properly.  They’ve just played in the background for the kids. So I wasn’t sure I would fully appreciate what was going on in Toy Story 4. Pixar seems pretty confident though – if it had been less secure, Toy Story 4 would have been named in the franchise-colon-iteration style – Toy Story: The Antique Shop or something.  That might have been a very different movie.

When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.

The first thing I noticed is how good Toy Story 4 looked.  The rain in the first shot almost looked like live action rain – you could practically feel it.  I love how everything was shot at toy’s eye view too, so all the settings that are instantly recognizable to us as humans are bizarre and dangerous to toy characters.  Of course, the visuals seem to be only incidental. Where Pixar really shows off in its writing. Perfect pacing, great dialogue, sure, those are there but what really got me was the characters and how strongly I was able to empathize with them.  Nothing is more powerful than to be shown something that makes you say: “I know EXACTLY how that feels.” That happens a lot in Toy Story 4.  

This is a movie about desires – how people want things, all the different things they do when they want things, what happens when they get the things they want and what happens when they don’t.  We can judge a character by how they get what they want. Oh – and there’s strong female characters. Which is nothing new, we see them all the time except usually they’re gun-toting badasses indistinguishable from the males of the same ilk except for body shape.  Not so with Bo Peep, who is incredibly capable and absolutely feminine. I want to be like her, except maybe for body shape.

One thing I was puzzled about was the rules for toys.  They weren’t quite what I remembered (though it has been 24 years).  I thought toys weren’t allowed to influence the real world. They could move and talk as long as nothing got changed and the illusion was maintained.  Boy they played fast and loose with that rule. It’s more like the toys are more like the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who – where they can do what they like as long as no one views them directly.  It didn’t detract from anything, but I did spend WAY too much time thinking about it.

So is Toy Story 4 worth watching?  Hells yes. You don’t even have to watch the other 3 to get the full effect of what’s going on in number 4.  Plus it’s funny, did I mention it’s funny? There’s a hilarious running joke about Buzz Lightyear’s thought process and there’s a unicorn who was nearly worth the price of admission alone. Definitely go see it, you’ll be glad you did.

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