Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Keanu Reeves
What’s it all about?
As per the events of Toy Story 3, Woody and the rest of the gang now live with Bonnie, but she is about to begin kindergarten and Woody is concerned that the experience will be difficult for her. It is here that we are introduced to the newest character – Forky, a suicidal plastic spork whom Bonnie adores.
While Woody is encouraging Forky to integrate himself with the group, he lays everything down to find an old friend who has been lost for years. His selfishness results in Forky being kidnapped, and – with the help of some new faces – Woody needs to devise a plan to rescue him in order to bring him back to Bonnie.
The final act – which I will not spoil here – is an emotional ride in which you will not only forget these are toys, but that this whole thing has been computer generated. These characters prove once again that nobody does animated heart and soul quite like Pixar.
Watching it with the kids…
As with all the Toy Story movies (and everything that Pixar does) this is superficially for children, but there’s always a deeper theme aimed at adults.
It takes a lot to elicit an emotional response from me at the cinema, so bravo to the writers, animators, and performers of Toy Story 4. It’s a great movie, but is it the best iteration of Pixar’s flagship series? I don’t think so. It has a similar feel to the third entry, and – although Woody has always been the main star – here he takes up more screen time than ever before, at the expense of everyone else that we have come to know and love. It’s absolutely fine, but it sometimes feels more like a solo spin-off movie than a true ensemble sequel.
Recommended (highly) ↑
Toy Story (1995)
I could talk about any Pixar movie in this spot, because with the exception of one or two, they are all really good, which probably gives Pixar a better batting average than any other studio in Hollywood.
It’s hard to believe Toy Story came out in 1995 – over half of my life ago – because it is one of the few cinema experiences that stands out to me all these years later. When it was released there was nothing like it, and that’s not hyperbole. It was fresh and new at a time when there was very little innovation on the big screen.
You will find a new computer animated release almost every week in 2017, but in 1995 it was extremely rare. People saw it as a novelty. Toy Story was a litmus test of sorts. Had it been a flop most of the animated movies we have seen over the last two decades may not have been produced, but not only was it a major financial success, it was also extremely well written and the critics and public alike loved it. As such, it set the benchmark for every cgi release from that point on.
Toy Story is a great movie, but it’s not even the best one in that trilogy, let alone the best thing Pixar has released. If you’ve not seen it, you owe it to yourself to give it ninety minutes of your time.
One day, Pixar will produce a movie which is not very good – I’m sure of it – because for every Billie Jean there is a Human Nature. But I guess I will have to keep waiting, because Brave is not that movie.
Pixar has been riding this exceptional wave since Toy Story, back in 1995, and every one of its twelve subsequent outings has been (in my opinion, of course) at least very good, and sometimes, fantastic. When it comes to animation, Pixar has no equal.
I had a few reservations going in to Brave. Being set in Scotland I was a little concerned that perhaps the accents wouldn’t work, or the locations would seem wrong, or that too much time would be spent making the requisite parochial jokes, but I needn’t have worried. Pixar are far too professional for all that stuff. The primary voice cast (with the notable exception of Emma Thompson) is from these shores, so there can be no accusations of: “why are there a bunch of Americans trying to speak Scottish?”, as often does happen; and the ‘scenery’ is so good you would probably know it was meant to be Scotland anyway.
The story does dip a fraction, halfway through, when the plot takes a slightly unexpected (and magical) twist, but it is handled rather well and it never gets boring, and – as is standard with Pixar movies – there is always enough to entertain both children and adults alike.
Merida is a fine, flame-haired heroine too… and guys, don’t let the female lead put you off – she’s quite cute in her own way.
You know, for a redhead.