Early reviews have arrived for Toy Story 4. The latest addition to Pixar's animated franchise is releasing nine years after Toy Story 3 brought Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang's adventures on the big screen to what many felt was a satisfying, moving conclusion. As such, fans were understandably worried about Toy Story 4 tarnishing the property's legacy early on, and the sequel's subsequent development woes did little to assuage their concerns. Thankfully, the social media reactions that dropped last Friday indicated the movie was well worth all the hullabaloo it took to eventually make it across the finish line.
Directed by Inside Out cowriter Josh Cooley, Toy Story 4 follows Woody (Tom Hanks), his pals, and a whole new set of characters on a road trip that leaves the toy cowboy questioning his very purpose and whether there's more to life as a toy than he ever thought possible. It's appropriately heavy subject matter for a Toy Story movie, and suggests the sequel could make for a meaningful continuation of the franchise at large. Fortunately, judging by the initial wave of reviews, it sounds like the film lives up to its potential.
You can read through spoiler-free excerpts from the early Toy Story 4 reviews below. For more, click on the corresponding links to check out the reviews in full.
Molly Freeman, Screen Rant
With a keen eye for detail from director [Josh] Cooley and a sharply written script by [Andrew] Stanton and [Stephany] Folsom - all of which came up through Pixar - Toy Story 4 is a captivating rumination on discovering our place in the world, wrapped in an exciting adventure about a cowboy toy and his spork friend. That's to say, Toy Story 4 is quintessential Pixar, tackling tough subjects through a lens of levity and real heart.
Brandon Zachary, CBR
Toy Story 4 is one of the breeziest films in the Pixar canon, serving as an epilogue that takes the beloved characters in interesting, if albeit conclusive, directions. Although it lacks the emotional heft and tight storytelling of previous franchise installments, it's nevertheless a highly enjoyable, and extremely funny, farewell to the cast and their world.
Angie Han, Mashable
It's [strange], heady stuff for a G-rated movie about dolls, and indeed, Toy Story 4 feels less like a family film than a film for adults their that children might also like. The colorful cartoon characters and their wacky hijinks will surely go appreciated by the younger set - but the messaging is aimed squarely at those who were old enough to watch the first or second Toy Story in theaters, and it hits that mark with grace and confidence.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
There’s adventure and growth and the subtlest brands of messaging and metaphors that current family films can offer, and even for “Toy Story 3” die-hards like myself who treated this film’s very existence with suspicion, you have to give it to Disney/Pixar for making a sequel that does indeed disrupt the status quo. So many follow-ups work overtime to return its characters and its storytelling to square one, but “Toy Story 4” is, in its way, as much of a game-changer as “Avengers: Endgame.”
Karen Han, Polygon
As evidenced by almost all of its films, Pixar has turned tugging on heartstrings into a symphonic art. The animation studio hasn’t lost a single step with Toy Story 4, which opens with an Up-esque wordless montage to get any forgetful or first-time viewers up to speed on how these toys have come together and changed hands. Almost a decade on from Toy Story 3, the franchise hasn’t lost an ounce of shine; the fourth installment is gorgeous, inside and out.
Peter Debruge, Variety
Meanwhile, for those of us who had misgivings about the previous film, director Josh Cooley (taking over for John Lasseter after he left Pixar amid sexual harassment charges) has delivered the movie “Toy Story 3” should have been... Simultaneously deeper and more artistic, “Toy Story 4” opens with the concept of how such plush and plastic companions adjust to the idea that their duty to their original child might be done.
Laura Prudom, IGN
And yet, despite the odds, Toy Story 4 is every bit as magical as its predecessors - telling a tale that’s even more engaging and emotional than the first two films in the franchise, even if it narrowly falls short of the dizzying heights of Toy Story 3. It feels miraculous that Pixar could’ve successfully navigated such a narrative minefield again after the cathartic closure of the last film, but Toy Story 4 is full of the same joy, wonder, and whimsy that we’ve come to expect from every Toy Story installment.
Dan Jolin, Empire
This fourth Toy Story isn’t as essential as the previous films in the series, but there’s no denying the joy of seeing Woody and friends back in action, while once again it’ll likely leave you with a tear in your eye.
Altogether, it sounds like Toy Story 4 is a pretty strong epilogue to the franchise. Some critics have even gone so far as to claim that the sequel is ever better than Toy Story 3, which is really saying something in light of that film's reception. Of course, others feel Toy Story 4 is a good (if a little messy) followup that's well-crafted and touching, but still feels a little unnecessary coming after its predecessor. That sounds perfectly reasonable, and there will no doubt be moviegoers who feel the same way when they eventually see it. Overall, though, the early word of mouth continues to be pretty terrific, with reviews praising everything from the story and themes to the animation quality and new toys (especially, Tony Hale's Forky and, yes, Keanu Reeves' Duke Caboom).
Toy Story 4 is currently sitting comfortably at 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes after 50 reviews. Assuming other critics enjoy the film just as much (if not more), that number shouldn't drop too far down from there, if at all. Toy Story 1 and 2 are both 100% Fresh on the site followed by Toy Story 3 at 98%, so it's good to see that (for now) reviewers largely agree that the fourth installment lives up to the standards set by its predecessors. That's also great news for those who've been hoping the sequel will offer a respite from the recent wave of disappointing early June releases like Secret Life of Pets 2 and especially Dark Phoenix. Indeed, if word of mouth stays where it's at, then Toy Story 4 will have a real shot at setting a new animated movie opening weekend record (as some have been forecasting).
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- Toy Story 4 (2019) release date: Jun 21, 2019