Get ready because “Toy Story 4” is about to dominate movie theaters and social media for the next several weeks. The latest film from Disney/Pixar opens this Thursday June 20th at 6pm. Some locations are doing special 5pm “event” screenings, and there are even a few showing all four “Toy Story” movies back to back.
When “Toy Story 3” opened in 2010, its final half hour was instantly regarded as one of the most emotional conclusions of the 21st century. Critics praised it (including yours truly), audiences adored it (the highest-grossing film of 2010), and it not only earned 2 Oscars but also a Best Picture nomination.
About 99.999% of people on Planet Earth thought “Toy Story 3” was the end of this franchise. Sure, Disney soon announced a new set of shorts and a couple of holiday specials with the characters. But as far as feature-length films go, “TS3” was almost a lock to be the final entry.
But that 0.001% comprised of the folks at Disney. Rumors began swirling in 2013, and in 2014, The Mouse House officially confirmed that “Toy Story 4” was in development. Reactions ranged from “Really?” to “Oh No.” How could you even attempt to top something that worked so well – and tied a perfect bow onto this series?
Well, as it turned out, they needed a certain Bo to return in order to feel completely satisfied. Through its ups and downs of production, including multiple delays which forced earlier releases of “Cars 3” and “Incredibles 2”, “Toy Story 4” has always been labeled a love story.
I had the chance to screen “Toy Story 4” a few days ago at a packed industry screening in NYC. It is indeed a love story… and a psychological drama surrounding our beloved cowboy. And that’s all I’ll say.
As far as looking at all four “Toy Story” films, I like them all. I do feel the 1995 original, while a groundbreaking accomplishment, is the weakest of the four in terms of story and depth. The other three have been challenging to rank.
“2” is the most fun. It’s a dialogue and situation-based ensemble comedy and moving look at ownership and the toy business. “3” is an unpredictable adventure with a powerful third act. And “4” raises the bar in terms of impact though, like the other two, isn’t 100% perfect.
I can’t quite pick a favorite out of the latter three Toy Stories. They all have something unique to say and, when you look at them across the board, end-up pretty even.
It’s rare these days for a franchise to stay consistently good. So don’t worry, Pixar definitely pulled it off. But after you see “Toy Story 4”, I think you’ll agree with me that this one HAS to be the last one.