Movie reviews by
3 ½ (out of 4)
I’ll be damned Disney – I came into the latest latent Pixar sequel with enough upfront cynicism to ready myself for Cars 4. Why oh why go out of your way to spoil a good thing? It goes without saying the Toy Story trilogy is the flagship of the Pixar brand – each installment has an abundance of emotional complexity and unencumbered creative freedom, as well as the potential for joy and pathos in devastating spells. Number four’s strongest distinction is the renewed inventiveness in addition to a consistently impassioned approach to more mature themes. It's hard to keep Disney's money-milking schemes out of your head (especially in the year of three remakes of their own animated classics, three Marvel movies, Frozen II and a Star Wars episode), but unbelievably Toy Story 4 is a product of prudence and intelligence rather than brand recognition and capitalist underpinnings.
It’s crazy to write out but this is some of Pixar’s finest stuff this decade, a few forgivable moments notwithstanding. The sympathetic villain in a voice(box)less Gabby Gabby doll improves on past antagonists while the major anthropomorphic trinkets are redrawn with enough new wrinkles to justify the very idea of this film's existence. Some inspired new character creations like Keanu Reeves' Duke Caboom mean some old favorites have to take the backseat, which would be disappointing if it weren't an even trade. Ultimately after having nightmares in anticipation of this sequel's mediocrity, I have to humbly admit the results of the previously predicted corporate devilry behind Toy Story 4 are as optimistic as one can imagine. The plot is appropriately minuscule for a film functioning as a touching epilogue to a great series. Just from the opening scene (a flashback of Woody and Bo Peep's parting that could work as its own short film), you know right up front this is not some obvious cash-in.
Toy Story 4 even has the upper hand on 3, thought to be its own impressive series capper. I grant you the final act of the 2010 Story is masterly but the progressed quality of animation, elevated moderation in the storytelling and the revisionist examination of Woody’s character makes Toy Story 4 the sequel we didn’t know we needed desperately and deserved unknowingly. Similar to Incredibles 2 (a strong and reasonable revisitation to original properties unlike Monsters University or Finding Dory) there is little compromise of independent imagination for the sake of popular demand.
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
The Rise of Skywalker
A Hidden Life
"So what've you been up to?"
"Escaping mostly... and I escape real good."
- Inherent Vice