Toy Story 4 would have to do a lot to justify its existence after the perfect finality of Toy Story 3, and if it doesn't, it's at least a lively, fun use of two hours. There's something vaguely poetic, as well as merchandisable, in its view of mundane objects animated by emotional fetishism. The story itself makes its way to a more drastic, less emotionally convincing finality—not that I trust them to stick to it.
Pixar is back with another emotionally satisfying journey that is as great as its predecessors. It's also the funniest entry yet. I still can't believe how they are still able to craft such mature and complex films that can appeal to kids as much as adults. Most characters have flaws and villains are just very insecure and sensitive people. Toy Story 4 is a great film about life and the ability to move on with it.
Considering every day is a matter of life or death for a toy, or at least another chance to lose one's place in the playroom hierarchy, it allows Pixar to wonderfully center their existential concerns. Part 4 can't quite shake the feeling of 'a sequel no one asked for,' and it fails to pack the emotional wallop of 3—how could it?—but it's still another respectable entry in the studio's long-running franchise.
For me, the "Toy Story" franchise is a cozy quilt of nostalgia, innocence, and emotional sucker-punches. With that, I was intensely skeptical of another installment, moreso than with any previous Pixar sequel. Despite its commercial intentions and the low prioritizing of the classic characters, the film holds up. Bo Peep and Woody are a lively duo, the action is kinetic, and the existentialism compliments the picture
If it wasn't for Duke Caboom, Forky, Plush Rush and Bo, this would've been just as much as a failure as the terribly manipulative Toy Story 3. This new entry feels like a short film about the aforementioned characters + Woody that got stretched out as much as they could to get to the 100 minutes mark by any means necessary. Please stop.
The sequel nobody needed (or wanted) turns out to be a good surprise: a smart tale of growing up and letting go, full of ideas tightly harnessed to a strong script and genius casting, with no franchise fatigue showing. That said, it's no TS3.