Before I begin this review, I just want to make it perfectly clear that I enjoyed this movie immensely. It is beautiful to look at, tells a very Bittersweet story, reunites us with some amazingly lovable characters, and introduces us to some brand new ones. I want to get that out of the way, because I’m well aware that this review is going to make it sound like I didn’t like this movie. I did. I loved Toy Story 4, but it was completely unnecessary and never quite justifies its own existence.

Toy Story 3 was the perfect end to the Toy Story tale and it should have been left right there without question. Despite Toy Story 4 being an excellent film, it never comes close to any of the emotional impact of the third movie which is weird because it really should have, but the resonance wasn’t there for me because the entire film felt like an unneeded epilogue to a story that was already done, making this movie feel like a very well made sequel produced solely for the ticket sales.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, because that’s what Hollywood is… it’s a machine that makes money and, thankfully, every now and then, they produce high quality money making products.

Toy Story 4 is that high quality product and it feels like a product. A very good product, but a product nonetheless.

The other three movies, despite being basically the same product, didn’t feel like it. They were art, they were bold, they were experimental, and each were a necessary step to telling the story.

This one just wasn’t necessary.

Maybe I’m just being a grouch. It was a very good movie, beautifully animated, well written, and I do love these characters. Perhaps, though, that is something else that is bothering me about this movie is that it did not use its ensemble of characters effectively in my opinion. Most of the toys are relegated to the sidelines. Poor Jessie is barely used, Ham and Rex have only a couple of lines, and the Potatoheads are demoted to silent set pieces. Yes, I know that Don Rickles passed away, but having Mr. Potatohead quiet during the entire movie aside from one or two interjective outbursts was incredibly distracting.

I feel like I have to stop myself again and remind everybody that I did genuinely enjoy this movie. Despite the fact that it is a tacked-on sequel, it’s a very good tacked-on sequel. It does have the exellence that you would expect from this series and I completely recommend that you watch it.

It’s just weird to have a 4th movie when the trilogy was done.

Maybe it’s just me being cynical in my old age, maybe I’m just looking for something to complain about, or maybe I have a point… Perhaps all three? My point is, Toy Story 4 is an excellent movie worth seeing, but it never feels like a movie that was worth making. That doesn’t make it bad, and it doesn’t feel exploitive, but it does feel unnecessary and I fear that this extra movie will only cheapen what came before.

I hope I’m wrong. I genuinely do.

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Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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