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MOVIE REVIEW

Toy Story 4

also known as “A Toy Story: Alles hört auf kein Kommando,” “Cau Chuyen Do Choi 4,” “Iсторiя iграшок 4,” “Oyuncak Hikayesi 4,” “Povestea jucăriilor 4,” “Priča o igračkama 4,” See more »

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Kids • Preteens • Family • Teens • Young-Adults • Adults
Genre:
Animation Comedy Family Kids Sequel IMAX
Length:
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
2019
USA Release:
June 21, 2019 (wide—4,575 theaters)
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Relevant Issues
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Kid Explorers
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Featuring: Tom HanksWoody (voice)
Tim AllenBuzz Lightyear (voice)
Annie PottsBo Beep (voice)
Keanu ReevesDuke Caboom (voice)
Christina HendricksGabby Gabby (voice)
Jay HernandezBonnie's Dad (voice)
Timothy DaltonMr. Pricklepants (voice)
Kristen SchaalTrixie (voice)
Keegan-Michael KeyDucky (voice)
Jordan PeeleBunny (voice)
Betty WhiteBitey White (voice)
Wallace ShawnRex (voice)
Mel BrooksMelephant Brooks (voice)
Joan CusackJessie (voice)
Laurie MetcalfMrs. Davis (voice)
Don RicklesMr. Potato Head (voice) (archive sound)
Tony HaleForky (voice)
John RatzenbergerHamm (voice)
Carl ReinerCarl Reineroceros (voice)
See all »
Director: Josh Cooley
Producer: Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
See all »
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

There is no greater calling for a toy than to be a companion for a child. This is a message that Woody and his pals have lived for faithfully over the many decades. First, they spent some wonderful years with their first owner Andy. Then, when it was time for Andy to graduate and pass his toys onto another, Woody and his pals were introduced to their new owner, a young, adorable Kindergartener named Bonnie.

Still, as time passes, Woody can’t help but reflect on the toys who have been left behind, though he, himself, was lucky enough to find another owner. Toys such as RC and his former romantic interest Bo Beep (whom, once her owner, Andy’s sister Molly, decided she was too old for Bo Peep, decided to donate her to, well, who knows where). These toys weren’t so lucky.

As Bonnie begins to play with all the other toys, except Woody, Woody begins to ponder whether he his a purpose anymore. What does he have to live for if not to make a child happy? What is his purpose if not to be played with?

In a turn of events, while Bonnie is in Kindergarten, she makes a friend to help her calm her fears. No, seriously, she MAKES or creates a friend named “Forky,” made of items in the trash (a spork, string, silly putty and broken popsicle sticks). Forky is convinced that he belongs in the trash, that he isn’t a toy. Woody, on the other hand, works as hard as he can to try and convince Forky of his purpose in being there for Bonnie.

Still, Forky’s not convinced and, during an RV road trip, make his escape. Woody, of course, pursues Forky, along the way running into an old friend… Bo Peep. Bo, you see, spent her life with a new owner only to be discarded and has since lived her life as a “lost toy.”

Now Woody is perplexed. Does he return to Bonnie or begin his life anew as Bo Peep suggests? These questions and much more are addressed in “Toy Story 4.”

It’s hard to believe that the first “Toy Story” was introduced to families over 24 years ago. It was there we were introduced to a boy and the adventures of his toys that came to life. What one thought might have been a “one-film franchise,” over 5 years turned into two films, then three and now the fourth. Who could have imagined that each of these films not only could withstand the test of time as a franchise (remember, 11 years passed between Toy Story 2 and 3), but each as stand-alone films.

Each film ALWAYS had something different to offer. The message in each film always resonated to both young and old, and if a film can do that, it is destined to do great things. And yet, knowing Toy Story’s reputation, as I walked into the theatre this afternoon, absolutely NOTHING prepared me for what I was about to witness…

“Toy Story 4” brings the franchise full-circle in the most respectable and fantastical way. From the soundtrack (made up of scores from the first two Toy Story films), to the strain of positive messages scattered throughout the film, to the voice performances of each character, this film invokes a variety of emotions, on various levels—from joy to shock, and yes, even tears (no spoilers I promise). The last time a Disney film made me feel this way was four years ago at the movie “Inside Out.”

“Toy Story 4” brings a large amount nostalgia to the table, while still maintaining its own identity. Yes, perhaps the situations in “Toy Story 4” do seem a bit similar to the previous films, and yet, in the moment, I didn’t care and neither did other adults (and, yes, children) who were laughing and sniffling in the front and back of the theatre.

Minor Objectionable Content

Violence: Moderate. Toys are seen in several scenes of peril, but no one is ever seriously injured (with possibly the exception of one character). Woody’s head is stepped on by a human (but is okay and is able to inflate his head back to normal). Two toys fall out of a moving RV (they aren’t injured). Buzz gets hit by a door. He is also kicked in the head lightly by a couple stuffed animals at a carnival (though the last time, he’s had enough and catches one of the stuffed animal’s feet in his helmet). In a fantasy sequence, stuffed animals attack an old antiques dealer by jumping on her (this scene happens three times in a row). In the most shocking scene, a toy is eaten by a cat, but is later spit up. Bo Peep’s sheep are slightly injured. One toy gets hit by a carousel. Woody, also, has his voice box surgically taken out of his back and given to another toy (Woody is okay though). In a post-credits fantasy scene, two stuffed animals become giants and shoot lasers at the carnival attendees (no one is injured).

Vulgarity/Profanity: Mild. • “oh my goodness” • “stuff that” • “move your plush” • “Chutes-n-ladders”

Sex/Nudity: None

Occult: None

Other: There are some ventriloquist dummies that are slightly frightening and place the toys in peril a couple times. For this reason, I wouldn’t bring anyone younger than 8 to see this. We also see the inside fluff of a toy. Bo Peep’s arm comes off in one scene, but she can tape it back on (this is not graphic at all, and I didn’t hear any screams come from the children in the audience).

Moral Content

“Toy Story 4” is covered in a sea of positive messages: courage, bravery, trust, faith, etc. But, for me, the message that stood out the most was the theme of purpose. Throughout the film, Woody and Forky try and determine their purpose to exist: Has Woody fulfilled his purpose, and if so what does he do now? Why would Bonnie create a toy out of garbage? Can garbage really be repurposed to a greater cause?

All Christians have pondered our own purpose in Christ. Even when we feel we have done everything God has commanded and destined for us, what more can we do for Him?

God has instilled in us gifts to use in His service. Some of are known to us from early on (e.g., God made it very clear I was to become a music teacher and inspire children to engage in music and to serve Him in the church). Other Christians must wait on the Lord, over time, for their gifts to be revealed to them, in God’s time and according to HIS purpose:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” —Ephesians 2:10

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” —James 1:17

“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” —1 Corinthians 12:5-6

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” —Matthew 5:14-16

Final Thoughts

I have reviewed numerous films over the past 12 years. No animated film has touched me as deeply as “Toy Story 4.” It is suitable for almost everyone: children (no younger than 8), teens, and even adults (especially those of us who are old enough to remember the original “Toy Story”). Viewers would benefit in viewing the first three films before seeing “Toy Story 4.” However, that is not completely necessary to truly appreciate this film. In short, I highly recommend “Toy Story 4.” It starts off the summer on a high note and is a relatively safe choice for viewing.

  • Violence: Moderate
  • Crude/Profane language: Mild
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: None
  • Occult: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I saw this movie, and I agree with the reviewer. I loved this film. There were so many Biblical symbols, plus a strong Biblical theme weaved into the story. I saw a strong tone about sacrifice. It is similar how Jesus sacrificed His life so that we could live. The toy Woody makes a sacrifice for his enemy so that she could live. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but if you see this movie, you will see that theme.

I remember as a child in high school literature class; I had to look for symbolic representations of Christ and God in the book that I read. Woody would be the symbolic representation of Christ. There are the themes of loyalty, love, and friendship, but sacrifice is moving in this film, too.

Please go see this movie with your children. Then talk to them about what Woody did. I feel that younger children would be frightened by the wooden puppets. It is definitely family friendly. I must say that Woody is my favorite character now!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Karen, age 49 (USA)
Positive—I only saw the preceding film, “Toy Story 3” on DVD (having seen the others at the cinema), for whatever reason, but the ending when [spoiler alert] Andy gave all his toys, including Woody, to Bonnie [end of spoiler alert], I cried big time.

With “Toy Story 4, ” we got to the cinema and at the end, I cried again, eyes brimming with tears, they started to fall down my cheeks. My nine nearly ten year old didn’t notice me and when I told him afterwards, he thought it was highly amusing!

Though there were elements of “been there, done that” in the storyline, it was quite humorous and also touching. The deeper stuff about what it means to be alive, how they were alive was hinted at but ultimately not entirely pursued. This would have made it too heavy for children but is something that everyone, believer and non believer, thinks about. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Dirk Wickenden, age 51 (United Kingdom)
Positive—In the movie, Buzz Lightyear says more than once his iconic motto to “infinity and beyond.” This phrase is so much a part of his character that even Woody the sheriff says it as his last line of dialogue in the movie.

Having said that, it would have been much more effective if Woody, some time during the movie and upon the last time Buzz uses this phrase, would have said something like, “Buzz, infinity is forever, ad infinitum. There is nothing beyond infinity, because it goes on forever.”

This simple line of dialogue would have added depth to Woody’s character, as well as to the movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality: 5
Steve, age 64 (USA)
Positive—My sister in law asked me to read up on the movie. She had heard of some gay tone, but was not sure if it was true. I did look at different Christian Web sites, but did not find anything to confirm her info.

We saw the movie, and it was great. Interesting new characters and a family-based theme. The part that was questionable was not realized until after we saw the movie. My brother pointed out that the two toys that had their hands sown together also had male voices. There may have been a slight gay theme, but it was very subtle.

It was a good movie, and I will look at getting it on DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Keith Boyer, age 46 (USA)
Positive—I am not happy with the scene where 2 moms drop off and pick up a child indicating same-sex relationships. Disney, the world really, keeps trying to push this agenda on our children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Susan, age 60 (USA)
Positive—Pixar hit it out of the figurative ballpark with this fitting end to the Toy Story franchise. The fourth installment to the series has the whimsy aspect that appeals to kids but also the emotional and philosophical aspect that appeals to adults (like most of its films). There are a lot of themes that parallel Biblical ones.

When Forky goes missing, Woody makes it his personal mission to bring him back to Bonnie. In Matthew 18: 10-14, a shepherd makes it his own personal mission to find the one missing sheep after it went astray from the herd. Jesus IS that shepherd and He sacrificed Himself so that we may come back to Him and His flock (it’s important to note that Forky once considered himself trash but Woody did not). See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Shannon H., age 37 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I was somewhat apprehensive about seeing TS4, because the third film was so beautiful, and it had a good ending that I felt completed the franchise. But I went, of course, putting my reservations in my back pocket.

My first objection is how Woody was stripped of his sheriff’s badge and given to Jesse, because it is “the year of the woman.” It seems every film of late has to make sure that women are at the forefront, no matter if it makes sense or not. I don’t mind it in context, but I hate when it’s done just to follow a trend.

So, enter BoPeep who has become a strong, independent woman in her own right—so unlike the BoPeep of past TS movies. Again, very predictable that the writers changed her character to fit the “movement.”

The story was slow and those dummies were scary. I’m glad my grandson wasn’t bothered by them. All in all, this was an unnecessary movie and should have ended with TS3.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Reba, age 60+ (USA)
Negative
Negative—Our children were toddlers as we sat around the CRT television watching the original “Toy Story.” And now, at the release of part 4, our “kids” are preparing to leave home, much in the same way “Toy Story 3” ended. Our family discussed how the story could effectively continue on with a relevant and meaningful story, mirroring the depth of its predecessors. And by the end of the film, while touching in a somewhat shallow manner, the unanswered question that remained was, “Why?”

*Spoilers!!!* (because the movie’s message matters)
After a brief intro/recap involving Andy, we are also introduced to the plot, or subplot, and from here it seems all the toys/characters that we have come to love were quickly dashed behind the curtains, then reappear with peppered appearances throughout the film reminding us all that, yes, this is “Toy Story.” The film builds heavily on Woody and “Forky”—a character that appears to be Disney’s passive attempt at introducing its newest character/toy as a transgendered fork/spoon who does not see its own value beyond being trash.

Jessie is now being represented as the “new” Sheriff at the beginning of the movie, and BoPeep is a very independent, strong-willed character that ends up doing most of the heroism after she and Woody are reunited.

There is no real antagonist, and the doll we originally believe will be the “bad guy,” is actually just misunderstood and has good intentions, nevermind that she commands all the male dolls who have a “toxic” and frightening appearance throughout the entire film.

New toys crowd out our beloved, original family and absorb most of the screen time, and while this may be profitable in the toy stores, they are not truly memorable as characters on the screen… they just seem “forced” and entirely unnecessary.

By the rather unclimatic ending, Woody has given his voice to the villain/misunderstood female doll, given his Sheriff’s badge and leadership of the family to another girl, Jessie, and left his family to follow under the strong leadership of BoPeep (the hero of this movie).

Then right before the credits roll, we are introduced to another “new” character that is to complement “Forky”… a girl-like figure constructed by Bonnie that is much stronger than a spork… because her body is a knife.

While there are chuckles and few “lol” moments, this movie innocently reinforces Disney’s “values” and does little to build upon the last 20 years.

Pros—extraordinarily clean, and the finest animation I have ever seen… truly excellent. The shadowing/lighting on the characters were impressive from the very start and, as the previous three, retained that superior workmanship to the very end, including the end credits.

Cons—Very few touching moments and weak story… Woody gives up everything to “follow” BoPeep. Women appear to be the real heroes of this chapter, and the “voice” of leadership, morale, right and wrong was given over to the female antagonist so she could have her turn.

In my opinion, this story seemed like a holiday special more fitting as a “straight to DVD” as there is little continuity to the core “characters.” With the exception of Buzz’s limited involvement and subsequent “giving up” at the end (not Buzz’s character to give up), we are left with a sequel that would have been better left unserved. It does no justice to over 20 years of storytelling, and sadly is a letdown to part 3.

Nothing… absolutely nothing tops “Toy Story 3” and the heartfelt moment all the toys affectionately embraced each other before that fateful end, and… the moment Andy let go of Woody.

And Disney thought this was a worthy sequel? Why???
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Caine, age 46 (USA)
Negative—Lesbian couple dropping their child off in the beginning of the movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: no opinion
anonymous, age 34

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