SPOILER WARNING!!! The following review contains spoilers for all of the Toy Story movies, but mostly Toy Story 4. Proceed with caution.
I’ve been a Toy Story fan for a very long time. The first movie was released when I was just 11 years old and it was instant love. This is a review of Toy Story 4 with some backstory to hopefully help you understand why I feel the way I do about the newest addition to the story.
Woody and Toy Story 1-3
Woody was my favorite character from the very beginning. He loves big. He’s loyal and protective of his kid. He’s a natural leader that brings structure and comfort to the other toys in Andy’s room. His worry for Andy and initial jealousy of Buzz make him even more relatable. And he is so special to Andy that even when Andy gets the newest, coolest space toy, he doesn’t completely ignore Woody or toss him away. They become a team. Andy’s team.
In Toy Story 2 when Woody is stolen while rescuing another one of Andy’s toys, even the discovery of how popular he once was and the possibility of continued fame and recognition wasn’t what tempted him to stay with the Round Up Gang. It was his care and concern for Jessie. He didn’t want to see her sad or hurt. And the reminder of how much his kid loved and needed him was enough to quickly make up his mind and convince Jessie and Bullseye to join him.
Then in Toy Story 3 as Andy prepares to leave for college, as everyone else quickly abandons ship, Woody is still loyal to the core and insists on returning to his kid. Even when he could have easily left the others to a life with Lotso and remained with Bonnie the first time, he returned to rescue his friends and help them all get home. And when the time comes and Woody realizes that no matter where he is, they are, he will always be with Andy, Woody is the one that ensures they all have a safe, happy home and kid to go to. I still cry at the end of 3 every time I watch it.
Toy Story 4 and Why I Didn’t Like it
Now for Toy Story 4 and why it was a total disappointment for me.
For starters it made me dislike Bonnie. And I loved Bonnie. When Andy gave her his beloved toys Woody was the one Bonnie was most excited about and seemed already attached to. She called him “my cowboy” and knew his sayings. Now, all of a sudden, Woody is the only one out of the whole original group left alone in the closet with the baby toys while everyone else gets played with. I mean really, she’d keep playing with an old piggy bank, but not Woody? No offense Hamm…
Dolly may be a good leader of her toys, but when it comes to caring for her kid she seems to be quite lacking. As Bonnie struggles with starting a new school it isn’t Dolly concerned for her and making a plan to help her. It’s Woody. He still loves and cares for Bonnie even when he’s been excluded. He cares so much he assigns himself the responsibility of keeping up with Forky (who I actually found quite cute and funny), essentially becoming the guardian of a toddler who happens to be a runner. Even though Forky is Bonnie’s new favorite, and Woody is never far from his side, he still seems somehow invisible to her. I don’t think she ever even picked him up or acknowledged him.
Then there’s the whole turning the movie into a romantic comedy/drama with Bo Peep. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her character in this one. She’s strong and independent and that’s awesome. However, I think that the romantic part of the storyline was taken a little too far. They’re toys. It was unnecessary. A toy’s love story should always be with its kid. The flirting between Buzz and Jessie was always funny and stopped there, as it should. Not a central theme to the movie. I also disliked that they made Buzz dumb. Buzz isn’t dumb. The entire middle section of the movie he may as well have not even been there. It felt forced. And hardly any of the rest of Bonnie’s toys made an appearance after the beginning sequence. I missed them.
Ducky and Bunny were funny, but not hilarious. Duke Caboom was okay, I liked his redemption arc. The Goosebumps dolls in the antique shop were creepy. Too creepy in my opinion for this movie. My daughter and I both jumped a couple of times. I did end up liking Gabby Gabby, she had a really good redemption story as well.
The Way it All Ended
I hated this part the most. There is no way, NO WAY, that Woody would have left his kid, Buzz, and the rest of the gang indefinitely like that. Knowing it would be almost impossible to find his way home. That he would never see any of them again and have zero chance of seeing Andy again. I always thought, hoped, that grown Andy would show back up somehow. Maybe Andy as a Dad. Full circle. A toy should be with its kid being played with and loved on. Not off on some grand adventure with its girlfriend.
Woody’s apparent goodbye to Bo was sad. His goodbye to Buzz and the others were heartbreaking and cut too short. They didn’t get a proper goodbye after everything they had been through together. This ending just left me… confused, sad, and unsatisfied.
I don’t know if I’ll ever want to see Toy Story 4 again. I’m sure I will have to because my six-year-old is in love with Forky. Maybe I’ll feel differently after repeated viewings, I don’t know. But for now, I’ll continue to watch number 3 and cry, pretending that was the end. That one had a proper ending.
What did you think of Toy Story 4? Did you go into it as a huge, longtime fan or just someone who liked the other movies and didn’t have a big attachment to the characters?
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