by Ray Keating
June 23, 2019
DisneyBizJournal.com Movie Rating: 3 stars out of 5
DisneyBizJournal.com Box Office Rating: $$$$ out of $$$$
Okay, I’m getting tired of coming out of a Toy Story movie feeling ... well ... kind of depressed. Toy Story 4 could have easily carried a subtitle like Woody’s Midlife Crisis or Woody’s Angst.
I exited the theater after watching Toy Story and Toy Story 2 feeling uplifted and joyous. That most certainly wasn’t the case with Toy Story 3 or, now, Toy Story 4.
Having said that, while Toy Story 3 was still a good movie, Toy Story 4 ranks as pretty good. Among the big plusses are several enjoyable new characters, namely, Forky (Tony Hale), Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key), Bunny (Jordan Peele), Giggle McDimples (Ally Maki), and perhaps best of all, Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves).
At the same time, there are just too many problems with the film. For example, it’s so focused on Woody (Tom Hanks) that key characters whom we’ve come to love are relegated to after-thoughts, including Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and Jessie (Joan Cusack), as well as Rex (Wallace Shawn), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), and Potato Head (Don Rickles).
The additions of other toys simply don’t work all that well, especially the story arc involving Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks).
And then there’s the return of Bo Peep (Annie Potts). It was good to see one of the gang return to the fold, and her adventurous life added some verve to the movie. But her tale largely amounted to – at least based on the first three films – an anti-Toy-Story story.
In the end, the key problem with Toy Story 4 is Woody’s big choice, which undermines much of the point of the Toy Story franchise, and could be classified as selfish. It was very un-Woody. The scenes mixed in with the credits attempt to gloss over or justify Woody’s decision, but that effort comes up short.
The Box Office
But make no mistake, my take on Toy Story 4 definitely falls into the exception category. The rule is that critics and fans love this. Over at rottentomatoes.com, both critic and audience scores are off the charts – 98% fresh with critics and 95% with audiences.
BoxOfficeMojo.com had the early global box office haul at $167.4 million (as of Friday, June 21), and the movie was expected to pull in between $122 million and $125 million domestically for the entire opening weekend.
Yes, Toy Story 4 will succeed at the box office, but it disappoints when it comes to what Toy Story has long been about. Come on, Woody (or Pixar), you should’ve done better.
Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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