Ten years later, Pixar’s flagship franchise is back for one more go on the merry go round, and unlike most franchises, this one isn’t slowing down with each installment or age. Toy Story 4 not only stands tall alongside the other entries in the series, it easily stands above all animated features currently in cinemas.
But most enjoyable is simply reuniting with these characters we’ve all come to call old friends. The whole main cast of the previous three films returns, with the incomparable Tom Hanks and Tim Allen reprising their iconic roles as Woody and Buzz. Featuring additional stupendous vocal performances from newcomers like Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, and most unexpectedly Keanu Reeves, this is a movie that’s not lacking star power. It’s not lacking anything, really!
It almost goes without saying nowadays that the animation is extraordinary in its quality, but it’s worth noting simply how good the movie looks. Pixar’s come a long way from the first feature length computer animated movie in 1995 and it shows. Each toy has marks or scuffs on them to varying degrees, and that attention to detail goes a long way to projecting yourself as an audience member into their shoes.
The other great asset the film has is its well told story. In a unique plot element to a series with an already unique premise, the kid Bonnie creates a new toy in her kindergarten class out of some garbage. A used spork, pipe cleaner, and googly eyes are combined, and like all toys in these movies, when the humans aren’t looking, it comes alive! But ‘Forky’ as he’s called, feels something’s wrong with his existence, and his tendency to wander sends Woody on a crazy adventure to get him back.
But beyond the premise, this is a film that plays to the best strengths Pixar usually has. They’ve always been a studio that makes movies enjoyable for people of all ages, from the very beginning with the first Toy Story. It’s their writing that always lays the foundation for a good time, and this film is not just an added unexpected pleasure to fans of the franchise.
Recently, Pixar’s been on a winning streak with some highly acclaimed films like Coco, Incredibles 2, and now Toy Story 4, reminds us more than ever that they’re still the top animation studio in Hollywood. For the third time in a row, their latest movie is an easy frontrunner for best animated picture of the year, and they make it look so easy.