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Toy Story 4-Was It Everything I Wanted It To Be And Needed It To Be? A Spoiler Free Review #ToyStory4

24 years have passed since the first Toy Story burst onto the screen and into our hearts and the years but was Toy Story 4 everything I wanted it and needed it to be?

Toy Story 4 #ToyStory4 Disney Pixar

That’s a difficult question to answer and one I am actually still pondering. When the first movie in the franchise came out, I only had 4 children, I was well in the midst of parenting and a very different place in my life and the original, as did Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 touched my heart in more ways than I could ever adequately articulate. They each found a way into my soul and was something that I had lived; something I had experienced; something that was a part of me and my life as a parent. In fact one of my all-time favorite moments in life came during Toy Story 3 BEFORE the movie-I looked down the row and there sat all of my sons including the one that hadn’t been born yet when the first movie came out, my daughter and all of my grandchildren and for a few hours, this was my world and my universe.

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I had played out the scene of the empty room. I have those boxes of toys, now cherished by the grandkids. Just like the creators of the movies, these moments were my moments and thousands of other parents and grandparents just like me so as much as I wasn’t sure if we really needed to have Toy Story 4, I do know first hand that the good people at Pixar do not do a movie, especially a sequel unless they have a story to tell and this one did indeed tell a tale that I can understand why they felt as though they needed that closure. Now because the movie won’t be released until June 21, there is much I’d like to share but won’t because everyone should experience the movie and decide for themselves but there are a few things I can share, as well as the very surprising reaction from the girls.


You’re Going To Cry

You are going to help create happy memories that are going to last the rest of her life.”

It’s Pixar so you already know upfront that tissues will be needed but Toy Stoy 4 takes you to places in your heart that sometimes it hurts to think about. Toy Story 4 is going to take you on a journey within yourself-especially if you’re a parent.

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It will remind you that everything in your life changes, evolves and moves forward, whether we want them to or not. We know it’s going to happen. It’s inevitable that your children grow up, outgrow things and move on and that’s a good thing. As much as we’d like, while in our minds, they will always be our babies, the reality is, they grow up to have babies of their own.  If you’re lucky enough to ever have grandkids, it’s your second chance to see the world through their eyes once again.

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The beloved toys become loved once again and for a brief period of time, all is right with the universe. And yes, life moves on, and more often than not, it moves on without you but at the end of the day, isn’t that what life is all about.  Toy Story 4 reminds you in a very poignant way that love means having to let go. My advice, bring lots of tissues because the ugly cry starts about 30 seconds into the movie and by the time the credits roll, yep, still sobbing. Toy Story 4 will tug on your heartstrings for all the right reasons. One special thing to note, that the beloved and iconic Don Rickles does make a return as the sarcastic Mr. Potatoe Head thanks to the many, many outtakes he provided from the previous movies and I am so happy, and sad, that he was a part of this.

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Meet Forky-The New Trash…. errrr Toy

“Forky is the most important toy for Bonnie right now. We all have to make sure nothing happens to him.”

By now there is not a person anywhere that hasn’t met Forky and in my mind, Forky may just be the greatest character ever created. Forky is the craft project that even I could create, and one I’ve seen my own children, grandkids and kindergarteners bring to life more times than I can count. Forky is what comes from the power of a child’s imagination.

Forky is brilliant in each and every way. He speaks the truth and he can say what other’s are thinking but are too afraid to say. But most importantly, he captures Bonnie’s heart and makes her feel safe and at the end of the day, isn’t that the most important job of any toy? It’s also a very important reminder that sometimes the most beloved things in a child’s life come from a place of creativity and discovery and are created from love and imagination….and cost nothing at all. Forky reminds us all that some of the best things in life are when you create something very special, from what was seemingly nothing at all. Never forget that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. And that is just what Forky is-a treasured toy through and through.

You’ll Laugh Until You Cry

“I am not a toy. I was made for soup, salad, maybe chili, and then the trash.” 

One of the things that make Pixar movies head and shoulders above the rest is that they are written for each and every person in that audience watching whether you’re young or young at heart and this is no exception.

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One of my very favorite things about seeing a movie from Pixar with kids is hearing the kids burst out laughing, and then in other parts, it’s the adults holding their sides from laughing so hard that it hurts brilliantly combined with parts where the entire theater is laughing together. “Yes they Canada!” This time around Duke Caboom and Ducky and Bunny bring the laughter to a whole new level.  Personally, I think casting Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom may be the most brilliant piece of casting that has ever happened and Ducky and Bunny hysterical their own unique way.

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Add in the return of the perineal favorites and you have a full-fledged, side-splitting comedy on your hands that works for every age at every level. You’ll just have to trust me on this because to say more would be to spoil the film.

You Have To Remind Yourself That It’s An Animated Movie

“I am not a toy!”

When the first Toy Story movie burst onto the silver screen 24 years ago, with it came the whole new level of animation the likes of which had never been seen before. And just like everything that Pixar does, the animation in Toy Story 4 takes you to a place where it is above and beyond to the point where you have to keep reminding yourself that you’re watching an animated movie-it is just that realistic.

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There were many instances where I found myself wondering if they had combined “real world” pieces of video with the animation but knowing that each and every moment of each and every movement and setting and background and motion and….it is all purposeful and thought out and created and developed. Think about that for a minute. Each and every item that you are seeing down the tiniest of details was drawn by someone….let that sink in. This is next level animation at its very best and takes you to place that you didn’t think were possible in an animated film.

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Having been lucky enough to have interviewed many of the good folks at both Disney and Pixar that brings these slices of life into our hearts and learned some of the things that go into bringing these films to life-from the character designs, to the set builders to the people responsible for the shading and the lighting and the list goes on and on work together as a team to bring these movies to life and into our hearts. Pixar movies are the gold standard when it comes to animation but with Toy Story 4, I truly believe a new platinum level has been achieved. John Lasseter put it best when he said “Pixar is not about computers, it’s about people.” and at the end of the day, it is the people, the Pixar team that brings these movies, and this level of animation to life.

Is Toy Story 4 Safe For Kids To See?

“I was made to help a child, I don’t remember it being this hard.” -Woody

First, the good news and that is that Toy Story 4 is rated G and there is absolutely no language to worry about anywhere in the film proving that you can make a movie with all the feels, that tells a story without using any what some might see as questionable words.

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But even with a G rating, there are a few things in the film that might be cause for concern, especially among very young children or very sensitive children. Enter Vincent and Gabby who are discovered in an antique store. Now we can’t go into specifics because again, we want to keep this as spoiler free as possible but in a word, Vincent and Gabby are well, creepy for lack of a better word. They certainly made me jump and the girls hide under their jackets for a minute but Gabby and her gang might make your littles jump into your lap as well.

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But most importantly, we know as adults that it’s Pixar, it’s the last in a beloved series so it goes without saying that there will be tears but what I never expected was how profoundly it impacted the girls and how emotional they were and how profoundly it affected them. Never underestimate a child’s capacity to understand and care and form emotional bonds with these beloved toys, even though they are movie characters, that have become so much a part of their existence and who they are.

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We will just leave it at that both were crying for long after the movie the last credit rolled and well into the next day. Leading up to us seeing the film, I fully expected them to come out laughing and smiling but the reality was, it impacted them more than I could ever imagine. The upside of all of this is that is truly opened the door for some great and difficult conversations about life.

Did Toy Story 4 Need To Be Made?

There is no easy answer for this other than to say “Yes” and “No”.  I understand why they did it. I understand why they felt the needed to close this chapter and this part of the book so to speak and they did that in an eloquent and yes, very emotional way.

I appreciated that it was only 1 hour and 30 minutes long so they did not stretch out the movie just for the sake of adding things that really didn’t need to be there. They made a movie that did what they needed it to do for themselves as well as those of us that have been on the journey over the last 24 years. Did it truly close the door-for some parts yes it did and other parts, never say never? Did we need a Toy Story 4?Toy Story 4 #ToyStory4 Disney Pixar

Only you can answer that question because like with everything Pixar does, it speaks to each one of us on a different level in a different way. Was I glad I went-YES! YES! and YES because it really made me think and helped me to come to terms with what was happening in my own life at this point in time and for that I am grateful.

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On June 21, return to the world of toys and family and life as we know it and take the family to Toy Story 4.