This, final episode of Toy Story lacks consistency with the previous three movies and triggers slightly less of an emotional reaction, if you ask me, but you would still be wise to have some tissues at hand. On the first point, this is more of a standalone movie, while the two previous instalments were clearly part of a bigger, cleverly composed narrative.
The most obvious change is that Buzz and Woody are no longer handling issues as a team. With Buzz now pretty much consumed by following his own electronic messages that he regards as his inner voice. Also, all the other familiar characters are there including Hamm, Jessie and Bullseye. But their roles are limited .. And there are a few new characters like a unicorn and the even more hilarious Ducky and Bunny double act.
Even so, Woody is tangled up in quite an entertaining story. He takes up the responsibility of mentoring the Forky, a mash from trash, sweets and toy parts, that is left confused about being a toy now. Forky was created by the new child Bonnie as former owner Andy parted from the familiar bunch of toys at the end of Toy Story 3 when he went to college. So they are now living with Bonnie, a 4-year old that is anxious to enter nursery. And that touches upon one of the ongoing themes in the Toy Story movies; progressing in life, which is also a big theme here. As is ‘how love shapes our character’. Another theme is 'imagination through play', this time embodied by Forky. Personally, I’m a bit tired about the mandatory overkill of messages and life lessons in animation movies.. Children might get confused and they have numbed me already.
The thing is that Toy Story 4 simply once more accommodates viewer’s common familiarity with themes and characters.
I cannot deny to be impressed with the movie. It’s innocent, warm and full of charm again. And toy Story 4 is beautiful to look at in the 3D version we bought. The colourful scenes look fantastic. From Woody’s 1960’s design to Bo Peep’s chinaware–appearance, it’s all very well done .. again.
However even though it’s a very different chapter, the oddest one in the series so far, something refreshing and new is missing, which is a bit of let down from the makers of Inside Out.