Toy Story 4 movie poster

Toy Story 4

In theaters June 21, 2019


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90 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , , ,

Toy Story 4 , the latest installment in the wildly successful Disney/Pixar franchise is gorgeously rendered, with plenty of action, but it may be over the heads of its target audience.

Andy has gone off to college and his toys have found a new home with young Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw), introduced in Toy Story 3 (2010). She loves all of her toys, but the ones out of active rotation are regulated to the closet, and this includes Woody (Tom Hanks). Also, Woody doesn’t wild the power he once did in Andy’s room – he’s barely second banana to Dolly (Bonnie Hunt) who is the defacto Mayor in Bonnie’s Room. At loose ends and against the wishes of the other toys who don’t want to get her in trouble, Woody tags along with Bonnie to Kindergarten Orientation. During Crafts, she makes a new toy, Forky (Tony Hale) who is literally made from a fork found in the garbage. This is where Toy Story gets a little dark, as Forky would really rather by trash where he’s comfortable instead of a toy forcibly loved by a child. In fact, he spends a great deal of time trying to escape back to the trash. It’s kinda funny, but dang, it’s really kinda dark. 

When the family embarks on one last summer vacation, vacation the toys find themselves repeatedly separated, thrown from an RV, and locked in an antique store with a kindly yet psychotic vintage baby doll, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) with a sinister eye on Woody’s voice box.  Gabby Gabby only wishes to be loved and have tea parties by one little girl, Harmony (Lila Sage Bromley). In the meantime, she has identical ventriloquist dummies, the Bensons, as henchmen and travels around in style in a doll carriage.

Not creepy at all, right?

And no, we will never forget the super fun Duke Kaboom (Keanu Reeves), with his own troubled back story, and Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele), who have their own twisted ideas of adventure and problem-solving. The usual suspects are there; Buzz (Tim Allen), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), and a surprising Bo Peep (Annie Potts) who channels Grrl Power not usually seen in a kid-happy flick. She’s strong, independent, and knows how to keep her charges safe. The underlying platonic relationship with Woody is one of the strongest storylines of Toy Story 4, and it more than makes up for Woody’s own misguided feelings about his place in the toybox and Forky. Bo Peep was honestly the best character this time around, but this movie was still all Woody, losing his purpose and putting lots of energy in what seems to be a lost cause.

This is not your kids’ Toy Story, with shades of basic brainwashing, extreme separation anxiety, and the kind of kidnapping only urban legends that end with bathtubs of ice and missing kidneys. I don’t know how much the target audience will enjoy, because there are a lot of adult themes. I wouldn’t recommend taking the Under-6 crowd because there isn’t enough kid-friendly content. I speak from the experience of sitting two seats over from one who decided about 20 minutes in that she was done with all of it. Bring them at your own peril.

Overall, Toy Story 4 is great fun, but it’s a little exhausting for 100 minutes. Lots of action and goofy sight gags, and there’s no doubt the animation is top notch. It’s just a little dark and adult for young littles to really enjoy the humor.

Toy Story 4 is rated G for characters your wee ones can relate too (toys and Bonnie), but be mindful of calm but creepy Gabby Gabby, and those ventriloquist dummies who can give grown adults a case of the willies.

No lie tho’ – I’ll probably buy one.

Toy Story 4 is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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