Toy Story 4 (2019): ‘The Modern Toys’ – A Film Review

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Toy Story was an iconic family film about toys that come alive as friends of their owner, as well as the story of a lost toy coming back to his child. It was pivotal in the development of the family film and in making CGI animation a staple of the genre. This also launched the importance of the studio Pixar. It is no surprise that Toy Story would become an enduring franchise. Despite any of the shortcomings of the sequels, the franchise would continue. Eventually becoming different to the original toy-friends, the rivalry and their relationships. Toy Story 4 arrives 24 years afterward the first installment and continues to comment on the importance of Toys to children. Each film series will always find new ways of developing these themes and ideas, it has to, times have changed.

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The Question of Bo Peep

Where loyalty and friendship was a huge part of previous films, Toy Story 4 takes a different approach and comments on attitudes to change. This is perhaps a daring difference but an important theme none-the-less. The complexities of this theme are more adult orientated than for children, but mirrors the way in which the franchise has evolved. Another theme that is more noticeable for younger audiences is the depiction of Bo Peep. Taking the feminine character into a more modern era of strong female characters makes for a better role model in theory, if it wasn’t so stereotypical. As such, it can be entertaining but still a missed opportunity. Ably performed by the Annie Potts, however, and having a pivotal impact on the narrative.

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A Toy’s Porcelain or Plastic or Fabric Face

The use of CGI also makes a bit of a change. Though it was always meant to be obviously CGI, it is surprising that subtle changes could be made in the texture to help signify the different Toy materials. This helps a rather distinct and pivotal look, helping to define the characters. As Toy Story will forever be character driven, this is important. Additional characters manage to be fun, superficial and thematic. They don’t always work but are harmless at their worst. At their best they comment and encourage a love of simplicity and sentimentality. Keeping a good sense of morals with the old idea of ‘one man’s treasure’.

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Ultimately successful and entertaining. Albeit a little tired, but daring none-the-less. Not necessarily achieving all its aims but modernised and having fun. Aimed for children and not being particularly smart about it. Toy Story 4 will be a welcome addition to the series. Not the best in the series but not the worst. Keeping the franchise alive for further installments, even if one were to think they’re looking to stop.



Woody (Tom Hanks) isn’t the favourite toy anymore, but is happy to defend the favourite, child-made toy of his kid. Even when she loses it and it leads him to a past love.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Toy Story (d. John Lasseter USA 1995)

Toy Story 4 (d. Josh Cooley USA 2019)


Further Reading

Official Site

Tom Hanks Interview

Cast Interview

Josh Cooley & Co Interview

Behind the Scenes


Easter Eggs

Toy Story 4 and Pixar Theory


If you liked this

Aladdin (2019): ‘Disney Blues’ – A Film Review

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019): ‘The End of the Dragons’ – A Film Review

Detective Pikachu (2019): ‘The Ryan Reynolds Take’ – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Toy Story 4 (d. Josh Cooley USA 2019)

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