Film review, by Jason Day – and special guest Win Hughes – about the latest installment in the long-running animated series about a group of talking toys and their adventures. Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
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It’s several years since the grown-up Andy gave away his precious toys to Bonnie (voiced by Madeleine McGraw). She plays less with talking cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks), preferring the others.
Bonnie is terrified of starting nursery school, but settles into it when she creates her own toy out of pipe cleaners, stick on eyes and a discarded spork. Naming it Forky (Tony Hale) it quickly becomes her favourite toy, but Forky sees himself only as trash who has no use and doesn’t want to be played with, so he continually discards himself.
Woody chases after him and the two begin a journey of revelation and self-discovery as he attempts to reunite Bonnie with her favourite toy of all.
Review, by @Reelreviewer…and @win_hughes
It’s incredible to think, but the first Toy Story film was originally released 24 years ago this year.
Many people of the past two generations have grown up with, been entertained by and – to some degree – been educated by these films about the trials and tribulations of a group of toys that come to life when their human owners are out of the play room.
I’m of the generation who were on the cusp of maturity when the first film came out, too smart and too ‘cool’* to appreciate that these films. On the surface, they are for kids because they are animated. But, given the characters and dialogue, there is plenty of material an adult would recognise.
*Please note. I wasn’t and am not cool.
Today I feel rather cheated that my age meant I was betwixt both stages. My nephew – who has just celebrated his 9th birthday – loves animated films and the Toy Story series are up there as his favourite flicks. He has seen Toy Story 4 and adored it and – as I’m not an animated film fan – I generally judge them to some degree by his first reaction.
I wonder if, for this film, his cinematic radar needs re-calibrating, for I got little out of this tired, desperate to make cash for Disney production.
Recently, I’ve been visiting the cinema regularly with a colleague, Win Hughes, a nursing lecturer at University of Northampton who shares my passion for a good popcorn movie. We have a good chin-wag before, during -apologies Cineworld, Northampton regulars – and after the show.
We don’t always agree but with this film, we were pretty much in sync. Of Toy Story 4, she said:
Very good jokes for the adults and after a slow start, the film got better once it warmed up. The earlier films really thought about adults enjoying them, too. This seemed more like a kids film with a few jokes for the grown-ups.Win Hughes.
Hughes’ views perfectly encapsulate what I thought. There is nothing bad about Toy Story 4, but the franchise’s glory years are clearly behind it.
To paraphrase Sidney Carton in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, we’ve seen the best of things, now we are moving toward the worst of things, from the films of wisdom (and innovation and wizardry) to those, not so much of foolishness, but repetitiveness.
I might have felt differently and reviewed the film more positively if I had seen it with my young nephew, but I found it hard to find things new to wow and enthrall me.
There are some genuinely gripping and scary moments such as the ventriloquist puppets with their freakishly slit mouths and wide open eyes – scarier than the one who possessed Michael Redgrave in the seminal British horror Dead of Night (1945) – which make the Universal rating from the BBFC seem incredible.
The animation is, as you would expect, top quality, but why have a good looking facsimile? Come on Pixar, ditch this legacy albatross around your creative necks and do something different, better, smarter. Break out of the toy box!
Cast & credits
Director: Josh Cooley. 1 hr 40 mins/100 mins. Pixar Animation Studios/Walt Disney. (U)
Producers: Mark Nielsen, Jonas Rivera.
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom.
Music: Randy Newman.
Sets: Bob Pauley.
Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan Michael-Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, June Squibb, Don Rickles, Laurie Metcalf, Mel Brooks, Alan Oppenheimer, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Carl Reiner, Patricia Arquette, Timothy Dalton.