The Toy Story franchise is truly something special. It’s always been one of our Dad’s favourite Disney movies, so I think that endeared it to us even more. My son watched the movies on repeat when he was two years old. Despite the rave reviews, I was hesitant going into Toy Story 4. The third movie had felt so perfect; so final. I didn’t really see how they could continue, having wrapped it up so well. Andy has given his toys to a new owner, Bonnie, who is young and has her whole childhood ahead of her. After watching TS4, I sincerely wish they had left it there. I feel very strongly about this movie, and I feel they did significantly more harm than good here. More about that later… I will say, more than any other review, we have four very strong and very different opinions on this movie. So sit back, grab a snack, and enjoy! This is how conversations go in our family.
Toy Story 4 finds us back with Bonnie, who is about to start Kindergarten. As a mom with a little boy who is a year away from kindergarten, it certainly gave me the feels watching as she struggled in her new environment. She is so nervous and out of her comfort zone without her toys. It seems that she is a bit of an outcast to the other kids. Bonnie finds comfort in crafting and creates Forky, a new character that adds comedy and levity to the movie. Forky was forged out of bits and pieces found in the garbage. He then only sees himself as trash and continues to try to return to the garbage. Woody sees the important roll that Forky plays in Bonnie adjusting to school, so he makes it his job to ensure that Forky doesn’t disappear on her. The movie follows Forky and Woody as Bonnie and her family take a road trip before the start of school. Along the way, we are reintroduced to Bo Peep and learn of her adventures since leaving Molly’s room.
Highlights of the Movie
This was the most comedic of the four movies. It had the most laugh-out-loud moments of the series. Bunny and Ducky, voiced by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, are comedy gold along with Forky, voiced by Tony Hale. In true fashion, this is not just a kids movie, but definitely fun for the whole family (forgive the cliche). It was also really fun having a Canadian character to giggle at. Duke Caboom made the True North proud. While I loved Duke Caboom, I did gravely miss the original gang. I did not find this movie to be nearly as funny as the others… perhaps because it felt like it was totally different characters for the majority of the movie. The new characters were fun to watch but I also missed the old group of toys.
The animation in this movie is truly stunning. Part of me didn’t appreciate the changes that they made to Bo; however, I will forgive them considering the details that they added. Bo is an animation wonder with her glossy, ceramic exterior. Watching the progression from Toy Story to Toy Story 4 is quite amazing. I agree on this point. The beginning sequence in the rain is absolutely spectacular. Also, the details they have been able to achieve with their human characters are so vastly different than the first (which as most may know was the first feature-length movie to be entirely computer animated). I loved how they did subtle nods to parts of the first movie, like when Woody runs with a box like he had done in Pizza Planet. I took notice of how much smoother the animation appeared overall, and I agree that Bo Peep’s texture work was simply brilliant.
Ava (Heidi’s oldest) needed to go to the bathroom at one point and said they “ruined” Bo. I explained that they were trying to make her stronger and able to stand on her own two feet and less “damsel in distress,” but she wouldn’t really have any of it. After the movie I asked Ava what she didn’t like about Bo… direct quote, “She wasn’t as sweet as she used to be, but I understand that they are trying to represent strong girls.” Out of the mouths of babes.
Another thing to note is the presence of creepy ventriloquist dolls throughout the film. If your kids are sensitive take note; this was a point of concern for my girls… they didn’t like it one bit. Totally agree with this point! They really played up the creepy baby doll (you know, the ones with the eyes that roll back in their head), and the Chucky-like ventriloquist dolls. They even had me creeped out! However; if you don’t go in saying “this could be scary” to your kids, it will likely go over their heads. The younger kids in the group were totally fine.
My understanding is there are over 20 subtle references to “The Shining” and that’s why there was so many creepy pieces. I don’t particularly enjoy this fact much, either.
Pixar is now infamous for the Easter Eggs in their movies (obvious, and not obvious, nods to their other animated films). Producer Mark Nielsen said that there is a nod to every single Pixar movie!
- Dinoco Gas Station: Bonnie’s parents are seen filling up at the Dinoco Gas Station. Dinoco was first seen in Toy Story, and came to prominence in the Cars franchise.
- Pizza Planet Truck Tattoo: I’ve heard they include the Pizza Planet truck in every Pixar movie, so you can be sure to find one in TS4.
- Ernesto de la Cruz’s Guitar: While Buzz is on the carnival prize wall, take a look on his right, there sits the famous guitar from Coco!
- Pixar Logo: The logo from the Luxo Ball can be seen on the rockets. Also on the prize wall.
- Bo’s Bottle Cap: “Adventure is out there!” This bottle cap is a throwback to Up!
- The Antique Shop: This shop is rife with Easter Eggs! Keep an eye out for Sherman’s goggles from Finding Nemo, Carl’s walker from Up!, and the lunch box from A Bug’s Life.
- From “Business Insider“: (At the beginning of TS4) the licence plate on the car is RMR F97. Licence plates have been used in Cars and Toy Story 2 to mean a whole range of things. This one refers to when Toy Story 2 was accidentally deleted from the render farm. RMR F97 was the command on the computer that deleted the film, which had to be restored using a backup file. Fitting then, that the car that takes Bo away is also the one that nearly killed the whole movie.
- Acting legends Betty White, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, and Alan Oppenheimer voice Bitey White, Melephant Brooks, Chairol Burnett, and Old Timer.
- Poultry Palace, a quick service restaurant from DCA, makes an appearance.
- Boo from Monsters, Inc.: Keep your eye out. We actually saw her a couple of times. Once in Bonnie’s Kindergarten class, and then again at the carnival.
- The whole carnival has tons of Easter Eggs, including Buzz’s rocket on one of the carnival stands. See how many things you can spot for yourselves!
We suggest heading to Costco and getting the tickets that include snacks. I don’t know if your local theatre has a freestyle Coke station, but it’s a real highlight for us! And the grocery stores have been releasing special addition snacks for the last few Disney movies, so be on the lookout a few months ahead for snacks that easily theme with the movie you’re planning to see!
Unfiltered Opinions (Spoilers Ahead!)
Okay guys, here’s where it gets good; time to grab that snack we talked about! Take it or leave it, this is just our opinions. We would recommend saving this part to read until AFTER you see have seen the movie.
Here’s my real beef with the movie. I already mentioned I didn’t like that there wasn’t enough of the original characters… it just doesn’t cut it for me that they would’ve all been OK with Woody and Buzz going on an adventure without them. (The gang just staying put? Not a chance!)
The real deal breaker for me though, was the ending. I won’t go into the details here, but let me just say that when you take THE VERY FABRIC AND ESSENCE of a character, and completely change their integrity, that is not just upsetting, but for me completely unnecessary and unacceptable.
I’m actually still SO mad. Leaving a CHILD for a GIRL? No way Jose. Just wouldn’t have happened. You expect me to believe that these toys sat in a chest for, lets say 6 years, not being played with at Andy’s… and at the first sign of not being as appreciated by Bonnie, would bail? For context, I will say they did show throughout the whole move how Woody felt displaced. He was used to being in charge and leading the toys. He didn’t hold the same position in Bonnie’s room that he did in Andy’s. Woody felt like he had served his purpose. He had been there for Andy from the beginning, and he helped Forky to realize his purpose. Even though yes, Bonnie did pass him over for other toys, Woody still wanted to make sure that she was looked after through the transition of Kindergarten. It doesn’t bother me at all that he chose this path. I can’t get behind this. I actually don’t understand why it’s not getting more tanked reviews. I just feel devastated and crushed that they made that decision.
Here’s the part that bothers me the most. In Toy Story 2, when Woody was trying to rescue Wheezy but accidentally ended up in the garage sale, Andy’s mom said this toy is not for sale, it’s a family heirloom. I loved that Andy gave his toys up to Bonnie to be played with. But I guess I always envisioned the toys sticking together. A family heirloom is something that is passed from one family member to another. Maybe I’m a little too attached but these characters have come to mean something to all of us.
Toy Story Quickfire Questions
- Erica: Spanish Buzz
- Heidi: Barbie
- Elisia: Rex
- Danielle: Bullseye
- Erica: Toy Story 3
- Heidi: Toy Story 2
- Elisia: Toy Story 2
- Danielle: Toy Story 2
- Erica: I Will Go Sailing No More
- Heidi: You’ve Got a Friend in Me
- Elisia: When She Loved Me
- Danielle: When She Loved Me
Favourite Toy Story-themed Ride:
- Erica: Slinky Dog Dash, Walt Disney World
- Heidi: Toy Story Mania!, Disneyland (but I think it will be Slinky Dog once I try it)
- Elisia: Toy Story Mania!, Disneyland
- Danielle: Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Disneyland
If you haven’t seen it, go. And if you see any more Easter Eggs, let us know! We would also love to hear what you think about the movie. Whose opinion do you agree with the most? What’s your favourite movie of the four? Leave a comment!
Have a magical day!
Elisia, Heidi, Erica, Danielle