Toy Story 3 was the first Disney-Pixar movie I witnessed on the big screen. I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up with the franchise, but I did catch up before hitting the third one. I was mesmerized, right from the Day & Night short that preceded the feature film. It reminded me of those black-and-white Charlie Chaplin skits – no dialogue but full of meaning. Then the movie started. Remember the dramatized train-robbery sequence? Evil Dr Pork Chop spaceship? A heartwarming montage of Andy playing with Woody and the gang?
Picture the Operation Playtime sequence. The toys dial Andy’s cellphone, which is in the trunk with them. The phone rings. Andy’s footsteps signify his approach. He opens the toy chest, and wow – he’s grown up. That moment defined the importance of timely sequels to me – something that the Incredibles 2, and, in this case, Toy Story 4, refused to do. I’ve grown up. So why aren’t my favorite fictional characters growing up with me?
I suppose personal bias shouldn’t affect my expectations for any movie. Toy Story 4 doesn’t suffer from a weak direction, terrible animation, or sub-standard voice work. But it can learn from its predecessors a thing or two about juggling multiple characters, putting them in more challenging predicaments, tying up loose ends in a plausible manner and leaving you emotionally satisfied. Some character decisions will leave you scratching your heads, the lack of a proper antagonist will let you down, and the closure that you think will trump the previous installment’s emotional impact doesn’t hit as hard.
Toy Story 4 doesn’t meet the lofty expectations that the brand commands. However, it does answer the question that every unnecessary installment poses – does it have to be?
Rating – 3/5