Toy Story 4 Played Fans False

I’ve never shied away from sharing my unpopular opinions, so I figured I might as well go down swinging 😉 Considering this was a massive box office and critical success (and it just won an Oscar for whatever that’s worth) this could very well be my most controversial opinion. And I know a lot of people might think I’ve simply got my old-lady-monkey-knickers in a twist, because it wasn’t the same as the old movies in the franchise and it didn’t live up to my nostalgia-fuelled perceptions of what makes a good Toy Story movie annnnd… you may very well be right. BUT here’s the thing: I don’t just think this failed as a Toy Story movie- I think this failed as a film in general. Which is why you should beware the upcoming *harsh thoughts* and be warned for *scary spoilers lie ahead!*

A lot of you might be wondering why I bothered to watch this in the first place (and, believe me, I’m asking myself the same question now). Truth is, I wasn’t sure I would, but was persuaded- both by an incredibly enthusiastic sister and the fact that Toy Story 3 had exceeded expectations. That had miraculously turned out to be a marvellous movie. For me, it was the perfect way to end the franchise and a beautiful finale for our favourite toys. The message of toys moving on to make more children happy was a very positive one (and doubtless helped me be less of a hoarder 😉). When I heard about Toy Story 4, I wasn’t sure where they could go with it, but the question of “what makes toys sentient” seemed interesting enough…

Only that’s not what the movie was about. Despite all the marketing, the spork supposedly-at-the-centre of the narrative is merely a gimmick. Instead of an interesting next-chapter-of-the-story, what I got was a formless mess of a movie and a miserable-as-hell tale of existential despair. I kid you not. Because this is the story of how Woody loses his sense of purpose, gets really depressed about it, fails to turn things around, then goes off to live a life of meaningless “pleasure” (if you can call lying in wait for random children to toss you around in a park pleasure). If this mirrors the idea of kids going off to college and leaving their parents behind, then the message is… do nothing with your retirement, just drink mimosas till you inevitably die. It feels less like Woody is going off into the sunset and more like he’s being shoved into an old age home.

Weirdly enough, the villains get a happier ending. That’s right- the toy who does the equivalent of ripping out Woody’s kidney gets a sort-of-redemption arc (although I hesitate to call it that, since it’s more of a “you’ve got to understand where I’m coming from and forgive me” arc). I’m sorry, this felt unsatisfying, cos the writers didn’t do the work to justify her redemption. Rewarding the villains for their villainy just felt all wrong.

Now, as many will be keen to point out, there was always darkness in Toy Story movies. Yet this was different- because where there had always been exploration of insecurities and change and hardship, there was always a sense of hope at the end. Toy Story 3 is the best exemplar of this: it left us with the notion that your purpose doesn’t end with a new chapter. That you can find another kid and go on. Here, we get the argument that your life’s goal was meaningless all along, you weren’t all that important to begin with and you may as well just live for yourself until you eventually fall apart.

To me, that goes counter to all the messaging of the franchise. So much of those was about friendship and sacrifice and living for others. Toy Story 4 takes the meaning and wonder and positivity of the originals and spits it out. I know I’m in the minority- nonetheless that leaves a pretty sour taste in my mouth.

And can we just take a moment to talk about how crap the characters are? It’s worse than that most of them get barely any lines and feel sort of neutered- they’re actively unlikeable at times. Bizarrely, the toys main goal seems to be to punish innocent humans and get the dad sent to jail?! Okay- where did that come from? I think they were trying to be funny? I guess?

Don’t worry though, the spork gets a character arc *she says sarcastically*. I mean, if you can call being suicidal and then being cured by a good talking to a character arc. Again, this is played for laughs- it’s not exactly deep. Especially since Woody doesn’t follow his advice.

On the subject of Sporky I’ve also got to say a big, fat WHAT THE HELL?!?! Cos what is wrong with those parents?!?! Why would they encourage her to hug a literal piece of trash at night?!?! It came out of the rubbish and is dirty and disgusting. When the kid falls asleep, you take it away and quietly put it back in the bin!! I’m genuinely concerned about how sanitary the people who made this movie are.

Also, just going to take a moment to get on the Bonnie-hate-train, cos she’s the worst. She was given the most amazing toy in the world, asked to take special care of it… annnnd immediately becomes infatuated with a spork. Ugh.

I know I’m focusing too much on the human characters- but that’s because this movie gives them too big of a role. Unlike all the other movies, which were so focused on the toy’s arcs, most of them don’t really do all that much. Buzz is an idiot; Bo has had a personality transplant; Woody is depressed and doggedly doing illogical things in order for the plot to work; and the rest of the gang may as well not be there.

Personally, there wasn’t a single thing I enjoyed about this movie. I thought the messages were awful and it was yet another Disney cashgrab. I wish they would stop turning (mostly children’s) franchises into nihilistic, humourless “comedies”, but here we are, I guess. Disney just can’t seem to stop raping and pillaging their old movies. I’m gonna try and do my best to turn a blind eye… until the next time I inevitably fall for this trick 😉

Rating: banana peel!

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(which shouldn’t offend the creators, since they think trash is good!)

Dare I ask, have you seen it? Do you think I’m being fair or too harsh? Let me know in the comments!

26 thoughts on “Toy Story 4 Played Fans False

  1. My daughter and I watched this one on our last Disney cruise, and I had to hold her back from throwing things at the screen. I am a fan of this franchise, but that ending! It defied the whole essence of the dolls. As my daughter said, all of this could have been avoided, if Andy had just taken TWO toys to college with him. Just saying….

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  2. we get the argument that your life’s goal was meaningless all along, you weren’t all that important to begin with and you may as well just live for yourself until you eventually fall apart.

    This seems to be more and more common in childrens movies these days and I find it very concerning. I have not watched this move nor do I intend to. I think 3 ended the franchise exactly where it should have. Now I’m just waiting for them to make more Monster’s Inc and ruin that!

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  3. Oh, what a shame. I loved Toy Story 3. My husband and I watched it in the theater – before we had children – and we cried. I’ll try to avoid this one and pretend 3 was the last.

    Bitterness can be funny, especially to adults who are currently in a dark place, but even for adult movies, I don’t like when the entire plot is built around revenge, failure, or deception.

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  4. I watched it on the plane, and I did enjoy it (laughed a lot) though it kind of made me sad at the end? Your points are all fair – I don’t think Sporky had a character arc at all lol. I did feel a little sorry for that villain doll eventually (though I was still a bit “wtf”) but I wonder what’ll happen when she gets passed over next time (e.g. when the new kid grows up)… Re: Woody going off with Bo, I got less of a sense of old people’s home and more of a sense that he was finally reuniting with the love of his life (though I don’t remember much romance in the previous movies?? Then again I don’t remember TS1 or 2 very well) but I do see what you mean that it . I don’t think they’ll be making a Toy Story 5 as Woody’s now left the rest of the group but who even knows anymore 😂

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  5. I liked this one, but it was by far my least favorite of the franchise and idk why it had such high reviews? To me it felt like it really didn’t fit with the other three movies, since basically all the main characters except Woody are sidelined in favor of a million new characters, and also I didn’t like Woody just leaving and Bonnie not caring despite Andy telling her how important he is…

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  6. Yes, yes, yes! The third movie had been so perfect, there was no need for this movie. There were a few cute parts here and there, but it didn’t make for a full movie.

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  7. I liked the movie, and there were more parts I enjoyed than you, but I was totally crushed by the ending. I too felt cheated a bit…I mean, all three previous movies went on and on about the importance of being together, and then at the end of this Woody just takes off and the other toys just give him little more than a bye and “we’re happy for you!” WTF!

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  8. Milou and i watched it. Milou cried at the end as this was her childhood animation coming to the final close. Cant say it was a bad movie, i enjoyed certain parts, thenagain I dont watch movies to go into the underlying “what it all meant” theories. Your opinions are great to read as always. Thank you for sharing your views.

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  9. I’ll be completely candid: even as a child, I didn’t enjoy the Toy Story movies! I have a vivid memory of being eight or nine when Toy Story 3 came out and my dad driving my brother and I to the movie theatre as a surprise, and when my dad told us why we were there, I burst into tears because I didn’t want to see it so much! I think younger me just thought they were scary, and when Toy Story 4 came out, I just was super uninterested.

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  10. I was hopeful for Toy Story 4, even though I thought Toy Story 3 was the perfect ending. But you note so eloquently many of the parts that bothered me. It’s just really hard to imagine Woody not wanting to be with a child and make them happy. I want to see him as having some sort of character growth, letting go of his need to be a child’s special toy and able to find happiness on his own/with his love interest. But…it just doesn’t seem to fit everything we know about him. And it’s kind of hard to see his being alone on the streets as a happy ending. I think I could get more on board with his staying with Bonnie and learning how to play a supporting role, instead of needing to be in charge all the time. Watching him rig carnival games so other toys get taken home is not fulfilling and it’s even sort of confusing because the movie just told us you don’t need to be taken home by a child to be happy and yet Woody is devoting his life to that for other toys. Because they haven’t reached his level of wisdom yet or something. It’s confusing messaging.

    Also, I haven’t watched Toy Story 1 or 2 for ages, but Bo Peep’s character seemed really different to me. I don’t see her becoming hardened like that. I felt like it was part of the effort to add more “girl power” to the film, but eh.

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  11. I liked all previous movies and I agree third was best and perfect end of the series. Why would they make 4th is big question. I haven’t watch this one but still I can see your point. After reading your post it sounds real bad! wonderful post!

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  12. I did not hate Toy Story 4 with the ire that you do 😂 But I was not pleased with it. Just as you said, I thought Toy Story 3 was the ultimate way to end the franchise. It was Perfect with a capital P. Toy Story 4 just feels like an inadequate add-on that I prefer to ignore.

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  13. I didn’t even bother watching this film, even though I LOVE Toy Story. The trailers weren’t doing it for me and the third film was a fantastic end to the series. Why did they even bother with a 4th?!?! I’m so sad 😦 I knew I wouldn’t like it and your review solidifies that belief. Such a shame, really. I’m sure the little ones loved it and a few others of our generation that grew up with the films, but honestly, I’m fine with knowing only Toy Story 3 as the proper end to the toys’ adventure.

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  14. I’m a Toy Story fan but this last one fell waaaay flat for me too. 😦 I just think they were trying to cash in on the franchise and didn’t think about anything else! TS3 was the perfect way to end it all. If they wanted to cash in, they should’ve made a tv series.

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