Toy Story 4 (2019): Wait… This Got Made? Thanks, Pixar!

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“Toy Story 4” is directed by Josh Cooley (Inside Out, Up) and stars Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Sully), Tim Allen (Last Man Standing, Home Improvement), Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty In Pink), Tony Hale (Arrested Development, Chuck), Keegan Michael-Key (Keanu, Tomorrowland), Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us), Madeleine McGraw (Ant-Man and the Wasp, Cars 3), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, The Neon Demon), Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, John Wick), Ally Maki (Wrecked, Cloak & Dagger), Jay Hernandez (Suicide Squad, Bad Moms), Lori Alan (Family Guy, SpongeBob SquarePants), and Joan Cusack (Say Anything, Saturday Night Live). This is the fourth installment to the “Toy Story” franchise, not to mention what I once considered to be one of the most unnecessary films of all time. While I never explicitly made a full length post about it, I was extremely skeptical about how would turn out. Nevertheless, the film takes place some time after the toys’ transition from Andy to Bonnie, as seen in “Toy Story 3.” The film also explores Bonnie’s personal life as she makes a transition of her own. Simultaneously, we get to know a new “toy” by the name of Forky. Bonnie and her family also go on a road trip together, allowing for more adventures to ensue.

I’m not even joking when I say this, out of all the sequels, reboots, or remakes coming out these days, I DID NOT think “Toy Story 4” was going to be one of them. “Toy Story 3” was one of the most satisfying, lovable, and emotionally charging movies I have ever seen. It is by far one of Pixar’s best examples of quality work, and possibly worthy of having the best ending to any of their movies. Although then again, it’s tough to decide between that and “Wall-E.” It is also one of my favorite movies of 2010, alongside “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “Inception.” In fact, the trilogy itself is nearly perfect. “Toy Story” revolutionized animated technology and was able to prove that computer animation was the future. “Toy Story 2” was a worthy follow-up that was hilarious, and expands the lore of its main character. “Toy Story 3…” is the bomb. That’s all I have to say. And despite hearing some comments from stars like Tom Hanks suggesting how emotional the movie is, I was still a tad skeptical about what we were going to get. This movie, on paper, felt like an obvious cash grab by Disney. Specifically, one that purely exists for financial gain, and for no reason that could associate with compelling audiences. But more and more word of mouth happened be positive upon this film’s arrival. I became more excited. I don’t know how, but apparently I wanted to see this movie. So I went to a local AMC, bought tickets for a Dolby Cinema screening, and I went in, with a thinking cap on, but still hyped.

How was “Toy Story 4?” Tell ya what, it’s almost my favorite movie of the year. In fact, it might be my #2. The animated genre in general almost does not get better than this. The animation is almost lifelike in some scenes. In fact, there is a cat in this movie, even though my head knew this film was animated, it looked like something I would probably notice in real life. The amount of detail done by the artists behind this film is astounding. As for the film, the story was surprisingly well done! If you think the words “Toy Story 4” would have sounded like nothing else but a cash grab back in the day, imagine a movie where a spork happens to have a conscience. Imaginative? Maybe. Would it sell toys. Probably. But what’s the story? This movie took that plot and executed it better than one would execute a deep dish pizza in Chicago!

Seriously guys, Forky is a surprisingly good character. I love how they take the purpose of a toy and apply it to something that is an eating utensil! Its connection with Bonnie is sweet, and kind of made me feel bad for the character. You remember “Blade Runner 2049?” There tons of reasons why I love that movie, but one of them is Ana De Armas’ character, Joi. She is not a human, while she does take the design of a human technically, she’s actually a hologram. When you can convince me that your movie’s main character is in love with something he might as well have purchased, to the point that gets me as a viewer to crush on them, you know your movie might be doing something right. Forky is a gem if I have ever seen one, and he also might be the greatest throwaway character in movie history!

By the way, one of the film’s main plot points involves a connection between Woody and Forky. While their connection was not displayed for the entire film, I was pleased with what was presented in front of me. In fact, if I had to compare the relationship between this duo, it would perhaps be Pixar’s response to the relationship between George and Lennie in “Of Mice and Men.” You have Woody, who is practically trying to be this father figure to Forky, teaching him all the traditions of being a toy. As for Forky, while not exactly simple minded, he is terrified and has a completely different purpose than being played with.

And I will say, one thing that the other movies had that this one didn’t have, was much of Woody and Buzz together. I will point out, I am not as nostalgic towards “Toy Story” as other people. For me, my most nostalgic franchise from Pixar is likely to be “The Incredibles.” I imagine some people may consider this a hindrance on the film’s part, but if you ask me, I don’t care. While Woody and Buzz can definitely go together like bread and butter, I didn’t care that they weren’t together much because I was already enjoying the storyline involving Woody and Forky. Plus, Buzz has a storyline of his own that I happened to enjoy.

In fact, the only real problem that I have with this movie happens to be the humor. And when I say problem, I don’t mean catastrophe, I mean something that at times just didn’t work. I will say, this movie is funny, but not as funny as I was expecting. There were a number of chuckleworthy moments, but there are few moments that I’d consider kneeslappers. I won’t specify, but I’m almost surprised that I’m even saying this, because I know some people are pointing out that this is the funniest “Toy Story” film yet.

If you ask me, that’s not the case. While this may not be my definite answer, since it has been awhile since I have seen every installment of the franchise, “Toy Story 2” is probably the funniest. What other movie can you get a line like this?

Thank you, Pixar!

As for everything else, this movie doesn’t just rock, it rocks the world. From the United States, to the United Kingdom, to the United Arab Emirates, to the United Nations, to United Airlines, to the United–wait wait, let’s just go with Canada just for shiggles. Wait… Canada… that reminds me.

Let’s talk about Keanu f*cking Reeves! Keanu Reeves… Oh my gosh, his role in this movie just proves that he is getting so much better as an actor. I don’t know if he is accepting any script that comes his way nowadays, or if he is getting more fun material to work on. Wait… He did “Replicas.” I take that back. Keanu Reeves plays a toy that is supposed to be a Canadian stuntman. He’s energetic, charming, and he even has a surprising amount of layers to him. And I can imagine other actors playing him and doing a good job with the voicework, but the fact that Keanu Reeves managed to not only take on the role, but light my eyes up by doing it, just puts a cherry on top of the sundae! And while I will say Reeves is more entertaining in “John Wick: Chapter 3,” I’d currently say this may be his best movie of the year. AND THAT SAYS SOMETHING.

Speaking of characters, Bo Peep is back! And I will point out something, you know how I appreciate “Toy Story 2” because it goes into the lore of its main character? Well “Toy Story 4” happens to dive into lore involving the connection of Woody and Bo. I will also say, upon seeing Bo in the middle of this film, I could not help but feel slightly shocked on how she would display herself. And when it comes to her character, it’s almost like this movie is trying to present a feminist message. This is your reminder that I am a straight white male, and as a straight white male, I don’t mind these sorts of messages as long as they feel like they fit or have a purpose. And guess what? It works! I’m not confirming this movie has a feminist message, and I won’t go into why, but if that’s what the movie was going for, I think they did a pretty good job with it. If not a feminist message, it is at the least, a message about growing up and becoming an adult. One or the other.

And what this movie didn’t do for laughs, is honestly forgiven when you consider how close I got to releasing man tears. You know how “Toy Story 3” had a whole climax of emotion? “Toy Story 4” kicks off with that, and there are more instances throughout displaying a similar vibe. I don’t think it was as sad as “Toy Story 3” as a movie, but there are more scenes where I felt like a girl. Nevertheless, this movie does a fine job of balancing character development, emotion, and storylines to the point where I’d call it one of the best animated films I have seen in recent memory. In fact, the ending… HOLY S*IT. Another thing that “Toy Story 3” did better, but this came SO CLOSE to being the best ending in the franchise.

Let me also just remind you, this film is directed by Josh Cooley, and this just so happens to be his feature-length debut. Much like other films from this decade such as “Deadpool” and “Lady Bird,” “Toy Story 4” in regards to its director, Josh Cooley, is definitely going to be one hell of a debut to put on his resume. I cannot wait to see Cooley’s next full length feature, and if it’s from Pixar, I’m there. If it’s live-action, I’m there. If it has a budget of $50 max, I don’t care, Josh Cooley did one hell of a job with this movie that I just want to see more from him. By the way, I think credit should also go to the writers, everyone behind the story, maybe even, as much flak as I might get for saying this, John Lasseter (based on recent events). For all I know, he could have conceived the best ideas in this movie. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. The screenplay for this movie is one of the best of the year, even with the hit or miss humor. Go see this movie now! That’s all I can say!

In the end, “Toy Story 4” is in the conversation of being the worst “Toy Story” movie. But that is not saying much, because ALL OF THEM are great. Don’t just take it from me, because the lowest rating one of these movies possess from Rotten Tomatoes is in the nineties. Half of the movies in the franchise have a 100% verdict on that site! “Toy Story,” honestly, might be the most solid franchise ever. When was the last time a franchise with four films in it was this good? “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” came out, some say it nuked the franchise. “Star Wars” had its first prequel, and as time went on it didn’t turn out too well. “Alien: Resurrection” is considered by many fans to be one most inferior installments in the entire franchise. “Mission: Impossible” had less than satisfying films before its fourth one came out. Some would say “Jaws: The Revenge” killed shark movies. Others would say “Sharknado” BRUTALLY MURDERED shark movies. It’s really hard to think of another franchise like “Toy Story.” This just makes “Toy Story 4” a pure cinematic achievement. It’s proof that sometimes, even when the idea of having a sequel that could feel like a cash grab, maybe a sequel that could be a bit scary to create, it’s all worth it in the end. It’s nearly tearjerking, it’s fun, it’s adventurous, the characters, new and old, have earned my seal of approval. But if the humor were just a little bit better, this could have been a perfect movie. But don’t think that last comment is meant to bog this movie down, because it is funny, but it was not as funny as I would have wanted it to be. That’s just me, plus comedy is one of the most subjective things on the face of the Earth, chances are everyone reading this will love the comedy and that’s great. I would love to buy “Toy Story 4” when they release a 4K for it, I think it is up there as one of my favorites of the year, and I am going to give it a 9/10.

I will also point out a few things for those who are curious. There is no short film before this movie, and I would recommend staying for the credits. If you want me to be specific, there are five end credit scenes, and they do something pretty cool with the Pixar logo at the end. Thanks for reading this review! Next week I am going to see the upcoming comedy “Stuber” starring Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista. I got passes to an upcoming screening, so look forward to that review very soon. I also want to let everyone know that pretty soon I am going to be releasing a reflection of my first half of 2019 as well as a less than concrete (but also somewhat official) schedule for the second half of the year. It’s going to announce movies I’m potentially going to review, some new, some old, cons I am planning on going to, and a special event that I am going to be releasing at the beginning of 2020. This post will be up very soon, look forward to it! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Toy Story 4?” I’m willing to bet a lot of you did by now, because it is one of the biggest selling movies in the animation genre. Nevertheless, if you saw the movie, what did you think about it? Or, what is the most solid franchise to you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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