Is there any reason for “Toy Story 4” to exist? Critics had reason to be skeptical since 2010’s “Toy Story 3” was almost universally adored and seemed to nicely wrap up its story, with Andy’s toys being passed down from one owner to the next in a heartbreaking but uplifting ending that put a nice capstone on the franchise. It even earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, which was unprecedented for an animated sequel. So why go back to that well another decade later? Thankfully, the reviews for this latest sequel indicate that the “Toy Story” franchise has managed to escape the scourge of sequel-itis yet again.
As of this writing “Toy Story 4” has a MetaCritic score of 84 based on 50 reviews counted — 49 of which are positive, only 1 classified as mixed. That’s lower than the sky-high 92 achieved by the last film. In fact, it’s the lowest MetaCritic score for any “Toy Story” film, but the makers of any franchise can tell you that if a critical score of 84 is your low point, you’re doing pretty damn well for yourself. And over on Rotten Tomatoes the film currently rates 98% fresh based on 214 reviews, only 4 of which are rotten.
This new “Toy Story” adventure brings back Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang, along with newcomer Forky (Tony Hale), a craft project that doesn’t believe it’s a real toy. Reviews are calling this film “visually dazzling,” “absolutely gorgeous,” “unexpectedly original,” “sprightly” and “sweet-natured.” It “captures the heart of the entire saga.” That’s a relief for movie journos following the critically disappointing sequels that it’s following into the multiplex like “Dark Phoenix” and “Men in Black International.” Check out some of those reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow movie fans here in our forums.
Ann Hornaday (Washington Post): “A diverting, visually dazzling concoction of wily schemes and daring adventures, ‘Toy Story 4’ achieves that something that eludes most sequels, especially this far into a series: a near-perfect balance between familiarity and novelty, action and emotion, and joyful hellos and more bittersweet goodbyes.”
Dana Stevens (Slate): “Let’s stipulate up top that ‘Toy Story 4’ has no inherent reason to exist … Then again, not having a reason to exist — and managing to make one’s existence joyful and meaningful anyway—is the central theme of the unexpectedly original (and expectedly delightful) ‘Toy Story 4.'”
Alan Ng (Film Threat): “Do yourself a favor and watch a little of the first ‘Toy Story’ movie. Look how far computer animation has come and ‘Toy Story 4’ continues to push the boundaries of technology. Most of it takes place in this mountain village and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Beauty aside, ‘Toy Story 4’ captures the heart of the entire saga in its own way.”
Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian): “It is sprightly, sweet-natured and gorgeous to look at (and how blase we’ve all become about animation standards that 10 years ago had us hyperventilating with astonishment). There are some nice lines and a nifty allusion to Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train.’ But this movie is fundamentally repeating itself: repeating characters, ideas and plotlines — even if it does it with buoyancy and charm.”