Disclaimer: My family and I screened Toy Story 4 thanks to a media invite. All opinions are my own.
Toy Story 4 opens in theatres on June 21st. I recently had the chance to screen this film and tell you my thoughts about this “Pixar Saga”, as I like to call it now. Toy Story has always been a beloved film by so many.
I was a little unsure of going in if Toy Story 4 could hold up to just how amazing Toy Story 3 is. I will caveat this post that I truly do not think this film was needed to complete Toy Story but it was definitely welcomed by our family. I have honestly never seen my kids laugh so much but I also feel like it might have been a little intense for my youngest too.
In this review, I want to cover a few important notes. Is it kid-friendly? Do you need to watch the other Toy Story films to catch up? Those kinds of things. One of the biggest questions I have had is if Toy Story lovers will need a tissue to get through this film.
About Toy Story 4
Before we begin my personal review and thoughts about the film, here is a quick synopsis of Toy Story 4.
The toys are back on the big screen with an all-new adventure in “Toy Story 4.” Woody, Buzz and the whole gang find themselves far from home, discovering new friends—and old ones—on an eye-opening road trip that takes them to unexpected places.
Honestly, I feel like Disney/Pixar might have released this film in hopes of reviving some nostalgia with the opening of Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World. I remember looking at my kids while in the theatre and thinking that I was just a couple of years older than my daughter when Toy Story first arrived.
I don’t know exactly what Disney/Pixar had in mind with this film but I will say that it is was well done. I still have a bit of that feeling that people have when watching a movie and you know the ending isn’t going to be happy so you just stop it at the part that still is. I kind of feel like that with Toy Story 4.
I was satisfied with watching Andy leave and the gang in the loving arms of Bonnie as he drove away. I remember hearing from the director of Finding Dory, Andrew Stanton, that he felt the need for Finding Dory because he didn’t like how Dory was left with nothing. We didn’t know who she was, where she came from, but yet she was such a large part of Finding Nemo.
I feel like perhaps Disney/Pixar felt the same with Toy Story 4. What would happen to Woody in a new place, a new kid, a new life? This is pretty much what this movie revolves around on top of a “love story/back story” to Bo Peep. It was a good closure to Woody’s story but at the same time, I would have been okay with the whole Toy Story gang snuggled in the arms of Bonnie in her front yard. I’ll just leave things there.
Overall, it was a well-done movie. My husband really enjoyed it and my kids nearly laughed the entire time. It was well received by the audience around us in the response. I will look at it as a “nice bonus” to the Toy Story films since it did hold my interest in the storyline of Bo Peep. I liked the 90’s toys nostalgia throughout the film and getting a chance to finally see the Pizza Planet delivery guy was pretty cool too. You heard me right there, keep an eye out for him.
There were various Easter eggs with the grape soda button from UP and some references to Disney memorabilia of old. It had a “good feeling” to the film with those things sprinkled into it. As for the important questions that I mentioned above, let’s dive into that.
Is Toy Story 4 Kid-Friendly?
Honestly, I go back and forth on this one. I will tell you that there are a handful of uncomfortable scenes in this film. It took me back to Sid’s room but a little darker.
I am not a fan of creepy dolls and my fears were met very well in this film. My son is five and he tended to cover his eyes during a few scenes. Not that I can blame him. My husband and I both jumped a few times, along with the rest of the audience. However, we did have a good laugh that an animated movie got to us like that.
I will be honest that this might not be as kid-friendly as we would have hoped from Toy Story. I feel like Toy Story has always had a darker edge in some areas but this one seemed really dark. You might want to screen this film prior to younger audiences viewing it if they easily are frightened by dolls or sudden spooky scenes.
My kids loved the new characters, especially Forky. I wasn’t sure how a spork would hold up in Toy Story but I’ll say that he had me in tears a few times with how funny he was. Tony Hale did an excellent job.
I remember looking over at both of my kids and seeing just how elated they were as they laughed. That right there made this film worth it for me. I have never seen them laugh so hard at a movie. If your kids enjoy silly humor, I think they’ll get a kick out of this one.
Do I need to see Toy Story 2 or 3 to enjoy it?
I don’t think you need to necessarily catch up at this point with the other films, but I will say that in order to keep up with Woody’s story, I would. This movie really revolved around Woody’s feelings on where his life is headed and if you don’t understand how he got into the care of Bonnie, you might be a little lost.
Will I need tissues?
If you are a Toy Story fan from the start, I would grab an extra napkin. I didn’t cry as hard as I did at Toy Story 3 but I did shed a few tears at the beginning and end. The beginning of the film really took us back and the ending wasn’t an easy “goodbye”. I don’t think I cried as much in the ending because I wish there were more of a draw out to it and you might understand more of my feelings once you see it.
Plus, there is a scene with a lost child that tugged at my heart a bit. Simply being a mom and thinking about if my own kids went through that. It broke me a little.
Will adults enjoy this film?
This film is a comedic. There is no doubt about it. My husband and I burst out laughing several times. The new characters are very funny and Duke Caboom had many Canadian references and jokes that had me rolling. It might be in part that I am close to a few Canadian friends but they got me.
I also noticed that the toys seem to “interact” more with the adults this time in a way that has me wondering now if some weird things that happen around my own home are due to my kids’ toys. That is a little dramatic but quite hilarious. You’ll again understand when you see the film but that might be the reason why it was so stinking funny to me.
I also personally loved that Betty White and Carol Burnett make cameos in this film as voice work for some of Bonnie’s discarded toys. As I also mentioned before, a lot of 90’s toys nostalgia took me back. I think adults who have grown up with Toy Story will enjoy this film and honestly, I am sure Disney/Pixar created this film sometimes more for us than our own kids.
Toy Story 4 is a feel-good film that I think will be enjoyed by Disney/Pixar fans alike. It is a little bit darker, a little bit deeper than I expected. The ending had me feeling a little “off” but overall my family received the film well. It isn’t my favorite Toy Story film but we did leave the theatre smiling.