The original “Toy Story” was the first ground breaking full length CG animated movie, Pixar the studio behind the film has barely put a foot wrong since.
The studio, now part of the all encompassing Disney empire, has been producing finely tuned quality animated fare with strong stories for years, with barely a misfire in sight.
The original Toy Story was followed by an expansion of the story in part 2 and we bid the team a tearful goodby in part 3. The perfect end to a much loved trilogy.
Did we need a part 4, well there were over a billion reasons for making this film, all with a dollar sign on them. Ignoring the merits of why the film exists and money over art debate, is the film any good?
Of course it is, but this time round the writers are working harder to create a new perilous adventure for the family of toys to experience. Many of the minor characters get left with little to do and “Woody” (Tom Hanks) and “Buzz” (Tim Allen) take centre stage with “Bo Peep” (Annie Potts).
The story revolves around the teams attempt to keep Forky from throwing his/her self into the trash, during the family’s RV vacation. We get to meet Bo Peep later and with the help of “Duke Caboom” (Keanu Reeves), they get into many scrapes in an antique store and nearby funfair.
As you would expect, the visuals, animation, sound, music and voice acting are top notch, we would expect nothing less from Pixar. However, this somehow feels more forced than the previous films. Placing the characters “in danger” just so they can create ever more sophisticated or crazy methods of escaping their fate.
The film is a little bit more unsettling once ventriloquist dummies are introduced, although maybe this unearths a very slight latent Automatonophobia in the viewer. The dummies plus a defective doll with designs on Woody’s voice box, provide the antagonists in the story.
As is usual with Pixar movies, there is much subtext in the background. Adult feelings of being needed, obsolescence, existentialism and what destiny you should follow. Of course it could just be about plastic cutlery and trashcans, we may be reading to much into this.
There is no disputing this is a well made, fun filled movie most will enjoy without unduly diluting what came before. However, whilst there is a neat conclusion to the story, unlike part 3 this feels more like a redundant goodbye rather than a glorious send off.
If you have enjoyed the previous films, there is much to enjoy here. The kids will love the film but for those who have grown up with the series, this might feel a slight step back.
Hopefully the toy box is firmly closed and Pixar can move on.