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Toy Story 4 First Reviews: Pixar Triumphs Again with a Surprisingly Daring Adventure

Critics say the return of Woody and the gang is a worthwhile one, full of heart, humor, and themes that will resonate with young and old.

by | June 13, 2019 | Comments

Few movie franchises maintain the level of perfection that Toy Story has. The first two installments of Pixar’s flagship film series have perfect scores on the Tomatometer. Toy Story 3, which was nominated for Best Picture, is close with 98%. Now Toy Story 4 is on its way to theaters, and initial reviews are pointing to another very high Tomatometer score (it’s currently at 100%).

Thanks to familiar friends, popular new additions, and another deep story involving the meaning of life, we’ll put to rest any complaints that Pixar is making too many sequels. If it’s the last of them, it ends on a great note, but if not, Toy Story can reach for the sky and go to infinity and beyond, as far as critics are concerned.

Here’s what critics are saying about Toy Story 4:


Did we really need another sequel after Toy Story 3?

Part 3 ended so perfectly and succinctly that Part 4 could only disappoint. Except, the film doesn’t. Surprisingly, Toy Story triumphs.
– Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

Toy Story 4 does an even better job than Toy Story 3 of managing mature themes while remaining kid-friendly.
– Karen Han, Polygon

Toy Story 4 proves to be a much more compelling conclusion, while still leaving the door open for future adventures.
– Molly Freeman, ScreenRant

Where the ending of Toy Story 3 simply deferred to the cycle of life, this finale ties a much stronger bow around the franchise by cutting to its core.
– David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Director Josh Cooley has delivered the movie Toy Story 3 should have been.
– Peter Debruge, Variety

Toy Story 4 is an unnecessary franchise extension savvy enough for self-criticism.
– Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly


Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Could this actually be the best Toy Story yet?

The movie feels like more of an action-adventure tale than the previous movies, but with the same emotional tug that will make you go through a box of tissues while watching it.
Jason Guerrasio, Business Insider

In my mind, there’s no question Toy Story 4 is the weakest movie in the series. But it’s also the riskiest and the most pleasantly unpredictable.
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

Not as good as the first three, but it also has a very different tone.
Bob Chipman, Escapist Magazine


How does it differ from the others?

Toy Story 4 breaks from the franchise’s tradition, focusing more on newer toys.
Molly Freeman, ScreenRant

Something feels a little different this time…. this movie starts — it starts! — with a suicidal toy and only gets stranger from there.
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush


How does it fit into the Pixar canon overall?

Toy Story 4 is the best Pixar sequel since Toy Story 2.
Matt Goldberg, Collider

This [is] the most fluid and enjoyably kinetic Pixar film since Ratatouille.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

It pushes Pixar into some of its most daring territory in years. Which, ironically, makes it feel like something of a throwback to the days when Pixar regularly surprised us with its originality and its sophistication.
Angie Han, Mashable

Subpar Pixar… Pixar, like its former funder Apple, has conditioned audiences to expect more than a nice little movie. We want to be amazed.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post


Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Will it make us laugh?

Toy Story 4 is easily one of the funniest movies Pixar has ever made.
Matt Goldberg, Collider

Is it funny? The funniest of the quartet, in fact, thanks to a weird new character.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

Delivers plenty of gonzo-funny moments.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair


And Cry?

Pixar’s sentient toys can still make us cry.
Tomris Laffly, Time Out

[Bring a] hankie…if you’ve seen just one of these movies, you know it’s basically survival gear.
Rafer Guzman, Newsday

The final 10 minutes, in particular, devastates tear ducts.
Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

Toy Story 4 doesn’t hit the emotional highs of the previous films… the ending is moving, though now you distrust any finality with this saga.
Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly


Is it a good movie for all ages?

[The movie’s theme] offers a good lesson for the kids in the audience, and will no doubt strike a chord with the adults.
Molly Freeman, ScreenRant

Toy Story 4 feels less like a family film than a film for adults their that children might also like.
Angie Han, Mashable


Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Will it empower girls in the audience?

Yes, Bo wears pants now, but… her femininity has nothing to do with how well she holds her own in a fight or survives in the wild and risks breaking along the way.
Karen Han, Polygon

Her strength is never commented upon — she just is strong, arguably stronger both mentally and physically than her old boy toy.
Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

Bo Peep has been fleshed out and made so ingratiating and self-confident that she now emerges as something close to the heart of the film.
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter


How are the new toys?

Forky alone is enough to elevate this potential cash-grab…the hero we need in 2019…He’s everything these films have been working towards.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Everyone’s gonna like Forky.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

The best voice performance might be Tony Hale as Forky.
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

Duke Caboom almost doesn’t merit mentioning. He’s great, but the sequel doesn’t need him to juice up the proceedings.
Karen Han, Polygon

[Christina] Henricks offers equal parts menace and vulnerability to Gabby Gabby, bringing to life the series’ most compelling ‘villain.’
Molly Freeman, ScreenRant


Toy Story 4

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

What about the animation?

The textures, colors, and control of lighting exhibit an incredible command of composition not seen since the glory days of Disney… Toy Story 4 is a landmark achievement in the pure creation of computer animation.
Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

The first of these movies to be composed in widescreen, Cooley’s feature debut is by far the most cinematic of the series, doing incredible things with lighting.
Peter Debruge, Variety

Locales and toys are rendered in astounding animation that I fear is in danger of being overlooked because most of the characters are 20 years old.
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

Makes 1995’s Toy Story look like the brick-maze screensaver from Windows 95.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post


Are there any issues?

Occasionally too busy and loose with its logical rigor, Toy Story 4 doesn’t quite connect all the dots.
Tomris Laffly, Time Out

If there are slight downsides to Toy Story 4, it’s that the rest of the toys from Bonnie’s room have become so comfortable with their new place that they don’t factor in quite as heavily to the story.
Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

Toy Story 4 at times feels more like a high-budget episode of television than a sweeping film.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post


Toy Story 4

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Should they keep going with the franchise?

If they can maintain this level of wonderful, keep ’em coming.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

I just do not see how they can outdo themselves should they go forward with another film.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies


Or is it time to say, “So long, partner?”

[Toy Story] comes to a sweet, emotionally apt conclusion now with a fine capper on a generally perfect series.
Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

Quite the swan song for the cowboy…If Toy Story 4 is the final film in the series, it would be an otherwise perfect conclusion.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

The Toy Story franchise really should come to a close with Toy Story 4… It’s hard to imagine the series going out on a better note than this.
Matt Goldberg, Collider


Toy Story 4 opens in theaters June 21, 2019. 

#1

Toy Story 4 (2019)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 124739%
Critics Consensus: Heartwarming, funny, and beautifully animated, Toy Story 4 manages the unlikely feat of extending -- and perhaps concluding -- a practically perfect animated saga.
Synopsis: Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy... [More]
Directed By: Josh Cooley

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