Toy Story 4 Movie Review: Pixar Triumphs With Another Powerful Film Following Woody and Buzz

Review: I hadn’t seen Toy Story 4 since its original theatrical run in 2019, and I was worried that the movie wasn’t going to live up to what I remembered seeing all those years ago. Instead, Toy Story 4 is every bit as mature, relatable, funny, and earned as I remembered.

woody and forky in toy story 4 film pixar
Woody and Forky in Toy Story 4 (2019)

I had forgotten just how beautiful Toy Story 4 is as an animated project and how it felt like a watershed moment for detailed visual storytelling using this medium when it came out. Pixar had long been at the forefront for visual style in animation, yet its grasp on the genre has fractured ever so slightly in recent memory. I’m not clamoring like most pundits that the studio is crumbling before our very eyes, but their latest works haven’t fared as well as their original movies that came out over a decade ago.

But like I said, I thoroughly, truthfully enjoy Turning Red and Onward and Elemental. I think Pixar has made some solid films in recent years. That’s not a popular opinion currently, and it’s easy to forget that a movie like Toy Story 4 came out only five years ago amidst a public outcry of fans wondering why this film even exists when Toy Story 3 felt like the perfect sendoff.

I was certainly in that camp in 2019, always favoring original stories over rehashes of the same material over and over (I’ll probably act the same way when Toy Story 5 nears because I clearly haven’t learned my lesson). Toy Story 4 quickly expels any notion that it shouldn’t exist – the different themes and new characters actually make the franchise as engaging as ever.

And while I wouldn’t say Toy Story 4 is the best of the series, it certainly doesn’t lack as an obvious fourth. Each of the previous three entries into the Toy Story franchise offer ample reasons for continuing the story – they’re about growing up alongside the material items in your life and how you develop that connective tissue to your childhood through them.

And where Toy Story 3 posits that Andy is moving onto college and that he’s outgrown his toys and must choose to part ways with them, his position is transposed by Woody in Toy Story 4. This time, it’s the cowboy who has to reckon with his own purpose. Andy was able to break away from what’s holding him back – and it’s time for Woody to do the same.

It’s a premise that feels all too perfect for Pixar, and one that really gets you by the time the third act comes into focus. The introduction of newer characters is usually pitch perfect, even if they eventually serve as set pieces just so we can get under the skin of the inner turmoil fueling Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) this time around. It’s not necessarily a competition that fuels these two the same way it does in the original Toy Story, instead this time it’s a yearning to find people at the same point in their “lives” as them.

Reviews for Movies like Toy Story 4 (2019)

Soul tried to grapple with many of the same themes and ideas as Toy Story 4, only it struggled to crystallize them as well. It’s overly delicate exposition and personified abstract characters ultimately collapse under the weight of its own ambition. Toy Story 4 builds these ideas out beautifully through characters that have been icons for Pixar since 1995, and our connection with them mirrors their connections with one another – making for a final twenty minutes that brings out the waterworks every damn time.

Much of the original voice cast returns to Toy Story 4, from Tom Hanks as Woody to Tim Allen as Buzz. It helps to deliver a high floor for a film that ultimately relies on many of the new cast members to soar – and soar it does. Tony Hale is impeccable as Forky, perhaps the best character added to the franchise since the original. His nihilism (instilled hilariously through a glued together fork and popsicle stick craft project, self-nicknamed as “trash”) courses through the film’s veins – a tonal choice that will ultimately land better with parents than with their kids. Toy Story 4 is as mannered and sincere as about anything the studio has made since the Wall-E/Ratatouille era.

The other newcomers span anywhere from Keanu Reeves (as the cartoonish daredevil Duke Caboom) and Christina Hendricks (as the antagonist Gabby Gabby, missing the voice box that she believes will be the key to finding a child to claim her) to Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (Ducky and Bunny, two carnival game prizes that deliver the best laugh lines in any Toy Story movie).

It’s hard to find a weak link among everyone delivering perfectly timed jokes and sincere, often depressing monologues about their very existence. I love that this movie exists and that it’s so open about its own emotions. It feels like a culmination of the previous three Toy Stories movies rather than a deconstruction, which is all I could’ve asked for from director Josh Cooley and the rest of the crew considering how much slander Pixar got when this movie was announced.

I hadn’t seen Toy Story 4 since its original theatrical run in 2019, and I was worried that it wasn’t going to live up to what I remembered seeing all those years ago (which feels like ages when you have a worldwide pandemic squeezed in there). Instead, Toy Story 4 is every bit as mature, relatable, funny, and earned as I remembered. I can’t wait to return to it again in the future.


Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family

Watch Toy Story 4 (2019) on Disney+ and VOD here

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Toy Story 4 Movie Voice Cast and Credits

toy story 4 movie 2019


Tom Hanks as Woody

Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear

Annie Potts as Bo Peep

Tony Hale as Forky

Keegan-Michael Key as Ducky

Madeleine McGraw as Bonnie

Christina Hendricks as Gabby Gabby

Jordan Peele as Bunny

Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom

Joan Cusack as Jessie

Wallace Shawn as Rex

John Ratzenberger as Hamm

Blake Clark as Slinky Dog

Carl Weathers as Combat Carl

Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head


Director: Josh Cooley

Writers: Andrew StantonStephany Folsom

Cinematography: Jean-Claude KalachePatrick Lin

Editor: Axel Geddes

Composer: Randy Newman

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