Hopefully just by reading the title you catch a glimpse of my thoughts on this fitting fourth iteration of the classic series, but I do believe it’s important to explain why I think so many viewers will fall for this film in unique and different ways.

The Generational Reality

The thing that I’ve been saying for years about Toy Story is something that very few tend to fully grasp. For anyone born after the year of 1995, they don’t know a world without Toy Story in it. Let that sink in for a moment. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was born in 1996, just over 22 years ago. In all reality, the vast majority of young folks, which are more often that not labeled as “millennials,” look at this series as something that has been with them since day one. It’s one of those rare film series that spans the age range and ultimately continues to appeal to guests time and time again.

Keeping that in mind, I believe it’s important to read my review knowing that frame of mind and understanding how big of a role this franchise has had not only in my life but in the lives of so many just like me. I also find it funny to note that the showing I went to last night was filled with adults and while kids were around, they were quite literally the exception rather that the rule. It seems as if the incredible team at Pixar knew that would be the case when developing this title. In so many forms and fashions they managed to capture the heart of the original two while building on the third and finding ways to connect with the audience in a heart felt way.

Truthfully, that’s by far the best way to describe this production. It’s heartfelt in a way that you could tell every single person in the theater appreciated. It made you laugh, it made you think, and ultimately it even made you cry before it was all said and done, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The Forky Conundrum

I will be the first to admit that when the Forky character arrived in the very first teaser trailer I found him humorous at first but then almost immediately found him annoying in so many ways as more and more trailers rolled out. After seeing the movie, I have to say that this is the character most people will fall in love with and it kind of hurts me to say that because I was so dead set against him in the beginning.

From his first moment on screen to his role as the story plays out, he’ll make you laugh and he really will make you appreciate so many things and so many hidden messages the story hopes to convey to guests of all ages.

The Story Itself

In the best possible description I could give, I had high hopes and low expectations for this movie. While some of that started to change when we stumbled into Tom Hanks and he waved and briefly spoke to us from a distance between takes while he was filming some promotional videos a few weeks back in Toy Story Land. I would still be lying if I said I had high expectations for this film. Everyone around me seemed excited but the switch in my mind never really flipped until we got the chance to head over to One Man’s Dream in Hollywood Studios to catch the 17 minute extended preview of the film.

That preview flipped something in my mind and brought back that deep rooted childhood love of this series. I could tell the story had heart to it in a way that I felt Toy Story 3 lacked to an extent and ultimately it felt like this could be the closing breaths of an era of a franchise so many of us have come to love and appreciate in incredible ways that cannot be conveyed in words.

When I arrived at the theater I didn’t entirely know what to expect or what direction the story would go in, and part of me felt confused. As the story played out, it quickly became evident that this was a new take on the “journeys” that always accompany the stories of the franchise. While I refuse to spoil the details of the story, I will say that this is one that will surprise you. There’s a few shockingly “dark” scenes and some pieces of the plot that seemed a little creepy even to me, but that ultimately played a pivotal role in how the film played out. The character interaction kept you guessing as to “what was next” and it played perfectly into the grander story.

In referencing the new characters, I cant explain in words how hysterical and truly up beat and witty some of these new characters are and what they bring to the story. Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) stole the show and will literally make you laugh every time they appear on screen. Not to be outdone, Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) brings to the table a character that has somewhat lost his way and slowly but surely finds his purpose as the story plays out.

Much like previous films, this Toy Story iteration is full of stories within the main story being conveyed and keeps you glued to the screen while throwing in moments of hidden adult humor (that is kid friendly) that will make you laugh more that you could ever expect from the outside looking in. Moments will have you rolling and the one liner quotes will be flowing for days after seeing this in theaters!

The Hidden Details Hiding In Plain Site

It wouldn’t be a good Pixar movie without some easter eggs scattered in the mix. Again, I wont say a word that will spoil it but be on the lookout for little easter eggs including the “The Ellie Badge” and even what appears to be a small tribute to Pizza Planet hiding in plain site! I’ve likely said too much already but keep an eye open and always keep scanning the screen for those little details that only Pixar would have the attention to detail to hide in plain site!

Should You Go See It?

At this point, I’m sure my answer is fairly obvious, but to make the long story short, go see it! I wasn’t invited media to this debut and I didn’t see it before tonight. I bought tickets this morning in eager anticipation of the film and from the perspective of a life long Toy Story fan, this exceeded my expectations. Is it perfect? No. Is it an excellent film? Yes.

Honestly, if this was a stand alone film it would quite possibly be my pick for animated movie of the year. If you compare it to the original two and try to rank all four in total, I would still put this in the third spot right before Toy Story 3 but firmly behind the original two. Part of that is, without a doubt, nostalgia, but another part of that is the fact that you really can’t beat those first two films that have quite literally spanned generations of families.

In the big picture, this is what I have no problem naming the heart felt story of the summer and is one that should be high on your list to catch a showing of this weekend! It’s a feel good movie through and through and it’s one that will turn skeptics like me into proponents of the film in a hurry!

Check it out and then come back here and let me know what you thought!

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