(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing several posters of the Toy Story shorts and TV specials)
Doug (vo): Let me ask you something. You know these kind of Toy Story shorts that came out for a while, like, that had one around Halloween, and then one that ran just as a little special on ABC and such? If they made those longer and said this was Toy Story 4, would you be happy? Would you be like, "Yeah, that feels right. That's how it's supposed to go"? My guess is, no.
(Now we are shown clips from Toy Story 4)
Doug (vo): And that is the exact problem I have with Toy Story 4. It doesn't need to exist, it's not that funny, there's nothing really that creative or new about it, but it has a nice enough message with characters that you like, so everyone seemed to be okay with it. I...I don't get it. Not to say this movie is awful, it clearly isn't, but as you probably heard me say before, I hold these movies to a very high standard. There was a great trilogy. 3, I wasn't even 100% onboard with, but I liked it enough and I thought it was a solid ending, I thought it wrapped things up pretty well. But, nope. We have to have this ensemble movie, where they're not really much of an ensemble anymore, and the characters that you really like are either reduced down to sort of these one lame running jokes or cameos here and there, but look. Bo Peep is back, and she looks more like Elsa than Bo Peep. (An image of Elsa from Frozen is shown alongside the original Bo Peep) Okay, okay, let me balance this out before a lot of people kill me.
Doug (vo): The movie starts out actually really solid, not just from an animation standpoint...I mean, my God, looking at this and just thinking back to the first film, I can't believe how far they've come...but in terms of story. We see Woody saying goodbye to Bo as she's going to be given away, and it's actually a very kind of panicky, anxiety-provoking scene. It's like the last time you're gonna see someone, you didn't know what is gonna happen, and he's trying to figure out if he goes with or does he stay behind, and it's really, really well done. I was actually like, "Holy smokes, I may actually love this." And for a while, the movie continues on that path. You see Woody and the toys are fitting in pretty well with their new owner, but Woody's discovering he's not the #1 toy anymore. Yeah, haven't seen that yet. But it's different than just ego this time, now it's feeling more like self-worth. Who does he look after? Who does he help? What is his importance? Well, their owner makes a brand-new toy out of a spork that she calls Forky, who's so confused about his existence, he keeps confusing himself for trash and keeps trying to go in the trash...that's actually really funny. But Woody tries to tell him he's a toy and has this great responsibility to be by his owner. Give credit that the whole movie wasn't about this. Everybody thought it was gonna go this route, like, "No, I'm not a toy, I'm just garbage. No, you're something special, depends on your point of view, blah-blah-blah." I'm glad they don't do that. It wouldn't have been bad, it just would've been too obvious. Woody and the new toy get separated, though...gee, haven't seen that yet...and they come across a new place with all sorts of creepy bad toys... (Growls as he speaks) ...gee, haven't seen that yet...and they're led by this one toy who looks sweet, but is actually diabolical and has an evil plan... (Growls again) ...haven't seen that... (Speaks normally) Yeah, okay, you get the problem. But here's something brand-new: An old character we already know! Bo Peep comes in to save Woody, as it looks like she's really enjoying her time not having an owner anymore. She considers herself a lost toy and doesn't really see any problem with that. Woody, on the other hand, can't quite figure out what he is, almost in the same way Forky can't figure out what he is, and...hey, what happened to the other toys? Oh, yeah, th-they're over there. Uh, Buzz has a running joke about listening to his inner voice, and so he pushes a button and he keeps trying to do what it says, even though it's just like five sayings, and...yeah, that's stupid. Jessie does a few things, sometimes. The Potato Heads have some recordings from the other movies, 'cause, you know, the voice actors are dead*. I forget if Slink has a line. But looky here, they have to escape this dangerous pet, which, again, haven't seen that before, but this one's really creepy...actually, it's not. It's just a normal cat. I mean...God, can't you just either make it super-cute or super-scary? I mean, do something with this, something to stand out, something to justify your existence! How ironic is that? The whole film is about justifying your existence while it's barely justifying its existence!
- Note: Actually, Estelle Harris, the voice of Mrs. Potato Head, was alive during the production of this film, though her character has only three lines in the movie.
Doug (vo): All of this, I would be more forgiving of if it was either A: really funny, or B: poignant enough that it needed to exist. I don't think it's either. Once in a while, I'll get a little laugh, but for me, a lot of the jokes were just falling flat. Even when I saw it, I wasn't hearing that much laughter out of the theater, more kind of pity laugh, like, "Isn't it cute a cartoon character said that?", but nothing like the other three. And the message is good. I actually really like it doesn't just end on the status quo, there is actual evolving of the characters and a legit change by the end.
(Several clips focusing on Woody, Bo Peep, and the old supporting characters are shown)
Doug (vo): But I feel like this movie should've been called "Woody the Cowboy", because that's what it's about. And every time they have to shoehorn in these other toys like Buzz or Jessie or any of the others, it just feels weird and out of place. If they changed the title, pushed them to the sidelines, and really upped the comedy, then maybe I would see this as a legit good film. I mean, one of my big complaints in Toy Story 3 was they just got rid of Bo offscreen, it kind of seemed insulting, and now, here she is, and she has an interesting personality and arc and backstory, and, cool. Doesn't tie in to the rest of the toys much like the other movies did. I mean, don't get me wrong. I know Woody's the main character and Buzz kind of is, too, but there was this feeling of appropriate shared time, like, not everybody got the exact same amount of time, but you remember the lines that Mr. Potato Head said, you remember the lines that Slinky said, you remember these characters because they left such an impact. If I saw this movie without seeing the other three, I wouldn't remember Potato Head, I wouldn't remember Slink, I don't even know if I'd remember Jessie.
(A scene showing one of the film's new characters, Gabby Gabby the porcelain doll, finding her true destiny is shown)
Doug (vo): The one scene I thought really elevated it, not just as a Toy Story movie, but as a Pixar movie, too, is the scene where the villain doll finds this lost child, and I won't go too much into it, but it's actually pretty deep and kind of profound. It actually had a lot of layers to it, which I felt the Toy Story films did. It's a short, simple scene, but it really speaks on a lot of levels, and I was really wishing the rest of the movie would do that.
Doug (vo): So, yeah, I guess it starts off strong and ends pretty strong, but everything else just feels unneeded. And I know what you're thinking. "Come on, just relax. It's a kids film. It's Toy Story. You're not supposed to think that deep about it." But...the makers thought that deep about it. They did with the first one, the second one, and the third one. And this one, I'm sure they did, but they clearly didn't make it because they wanted to, because the story had to continue, they made it because (A dollar sign appears on screen) we need another Toy Story. They disguise it well in many areas and do have some good messages and an occasional good laugh, but nothing ever felt like this needed to exist. Now, with that said, some people don't mind. A lot of people see it saying, "Yeah, I didn't think it needed to exist, but it was nice enough. It got a few laughs, and that was pretty cool what it said at the end." And you know what? Awesome. If you got something out of this, I think that's fantastic. I'd rather people get something out of a film I don't like than hate it on the same level that I hate it. And I don't hate this, I just...don't like it. If this movie really moved you, continue to let it move you. But me, personally, I'm putting this one back in the toy chest.
(A scene showing Woody watching Bonnie play with all of the other toys is shown)