Movie Review: Toy Story 4 (2019)

Synopsis: Feeling out of place and unwanted as one of Bonnie's toys, Woody struggles to find a role in his new child's life. As a result, when Bonnie is afraid to go to kindergarten, Woody sneaks along for the ride and winds up being the guardian for her new favorite plaything, Forky. This ultimately results in him going on a road trip with Bonnie and her parents, reuniting with an old friend and facing off with an antique doll that wants to steal his voice box.

Who's in it? The animated movie uses voices from Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Christina Hendricks and Tony Hale.

Review: My youngest daughter's school was showing this film at its movie night last night and, since none of us were really interested in watching it while sitting on a gymnasium floor, my wife decided to just rent it from Red Box and have a family movie night at home instead.

I wasn't a huge fan of Toy Story 3, which I thought was a little dark (especially when the toys nearly died) for a family film. And, as a result of that, I didn't think I would enjoy this fourth installment. But, after watching it, I have to admit it was better than I was expecting.

First of all, Forky (Hale) was a hilarious addition to this movie. Granted, he did cause me to question what exactly the rules were when it came to the definition of a toy. But, his confusion over who/what he was and insistence he belonged in a trash can did provide quite a few entertaining moments and kept the film a little less predictable than I would have expected it to be.

I also was surprised by the way this movie managed to inspire a wide range of emotions. One moment, we would be laughing at something we saw (the scenes involving Bonnie's parents are fantastic) and the next, something humbling (and kind of sad) would happen, creating a more sober mood. It's not something that happens with a lot of animated films like this.

Originally, I was a bit concerned about the addition of Gabby Gabby (Hendricks) as the film's antagonist because she seemed a little too similar to Lotso (Ned Beatty) in the third movie. But, as the movie progressed, I did notice just enough differences to eventually warm to her. I liked how she wasn't necessarily evil (like Lotso), just desperate to finally be a child's toy, and that made it easier to feel sorry for her by the end of the film.

I was also glad this film finally got around to explaining what happened to Bo Peep (Potts), who mysteriously disappeared by the third film. If nothing else, it was good to see she was still alive and well, something that was very unclear up until this point.

My only real complaint about this movie is I feel as though Buzz (Allen) kind of got cheated out of screen time. He was one of the main characters in the other movies yet, in this one, he was essentially reduced to the role of "other" toy. The part about him using his "inner voice" was cute, but felt a little like the writers couldn't figure out how to use him in this movie and just thrust him in the key scenes in an effort to give him some lines. In other words, he was there but ultimately doesn't do anything memorable or of any great importance, which was a pretty big disappointment.

Final Opinion: It would have been a little better if Buzz Lightyear would have had more of a role and probably wasn't as good as the first couple Toy Story movies. But, I did enjoy watching it and would recommend it.

My Grade: A


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