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Toy Story 4

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Toy Story 4 Movie Poster Image
Big-hearted, touching finale to Pixar's legendary franchise.
  • G
  • 2019
  • 100 minutes
 Popular with kids

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 118 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 92 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Intended to entertain rather than educate, but kids will learn value of play time and appreciating toys, whether handmade or purchased.

Positive Messages

Toy Story movies are all about friendship, loyalty, "being there" to care for and comfort kids -- plus teamwork, courage, perseverance, empathy, listening to your conscience/"inner voice." Toys work together to overcome obstacles, disagreements. This installment deals with being open-minded (one person's trash can be another person's toy), inclusive, generous (Woody helps Forky because Forky is the favored toy), and learning to find purpose in life. Encourages striking out for new adventure, having an independent spirit. A subplot touches on potentially iffy notion that if you fix what's "wrong" with you, you'll be more likely to be accepted/find love.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Woody is one of the most loyal characters ever -- his dedication to Andy and now Bonnie is admirable (albeit frustrating for friends and possibly viewers); he has unshakable devotion to fellow toys, not leaving toys behind; he works hard to protect Forky, who is Bonnie's favorite new toy. Forky transforms from confused to determined. Buzz learns to listen to his "inner voice" to help guide him and lead the others. Bo Peep is clever, brave, a fabulous problem-solver. She helps Woody and Forky at her own risk. Bunny and Ducky work with their new friends to reunite Bonnie with her lost toys. Even initially creepy Gabby is ultimately revealed to have much more complexity. Bonnie's kindgergarten classroom is diverse.

Violence & Scariness

Plenty of peril and tense moments during rescues and escapes (big jumps, chases, falls, near misses, etc.). Creepy ventriloquist dummies act as Gabby Gabby's henchmen: They take toys hostage, keep them locked up, etc. Bunny and Ducky consider physically attacking elderly antique store owner (their plans are visualized) and imagine shooting deadly lasers from their eyes (also shown). Much later they actually jump on a character's face, and also brawl with other toys (jumping on Buzz, etc.). Gabby Gabby is initially portrayed as sinister. A store cat is known to demolish toys, even leaving a stuffed toy that's been severed at the waist. In a disturbing moment, the cat swallows a tiny toy (but later spits her out). Bo Peep has a broken arm she keeps bandaged together. Arguments. Early scenes show a storm with thunder. Sad separations between close friends and hurtful rejections. Bonnie is scared to go to kindergarten at first.

Sexy Stuff

Flirting and longing looks between toy characters that culminates in a lingering embrace. Quick joke about a toy's previous fling with He-Man.

Language

"You're crazy," "he's terrifying," "weirdo," "dummy," "idiot," "stupid."

Consumerism

Some of the Toy Story characters are recognizable brands (Barbie, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, etc.), and others are mentioned (Chutes and Ladders, etc.). And beyond that, this franchise has the potential for the most merchandising tie-ins of any kid-targeted movie series. Toys, action figures, McDonald's Happy Meal gifts, games, books, party supplies, plush dolls, etc. You can even buy (rather than make) your own Forky.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In an imagined scenario, an older woman is shown relaxing in a bubble bath with a glass of red wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Toy Story 4 is the fourth and probably final installment of Disney Pixar's original franchise. It's remarkably poignant and should appeal to audiences of all ages -- from parents and children to those who grew up loving Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and the gang. There are also many new characters this time around, starting with Forky (Tony Hale), the sentient arts-and-crafts toy made from a spork, clay, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. This movie definitely fits into the series' action-comedy genre, but its peril is less intense than the harrowing climactic sequences of Toy Story 3. Still, you can expect lots of high-stakes escapes/rescue missions, some close calls, and very creepy vintage ventriloquist dummies. Most of the film's peril, worry, and violence focus on separation from the toys' new kid, Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw), as well as the slightly sinister machinations of Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), an antique-store doll who's desperate for a new voice box. Gabby's subplot has one of the movie's only less-than-completely-positive messages (it touches on the idea that if you fix what's "wrong" with you, you could be more likely to be accepted/find love). But her arc also includes powerful examples of empathy, and overall the film has touching themes of friendship, loyalty, imagination, and the power of play.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBethkg June 21, 2019

Really disappointing

I knew there was absolutely no way they could do a better ending than Toy Story 3. Toy Story 4 was disappointing, really disappointing. It was eerie, dark, and... Continue reading
Adult Written byppetros June 21, 2019

Scary and terrible message

Toy Story 4 has some good moments, but the storyline was lacking, jumping from sub-plot to sub-plot. The central plot of Woody's purpose got lost in the... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 18, 2019

Amazing end to the series!

This film, the 4th installment of the Toy Story 4 series, is a wonderful, yet action-packed adventure that kids will enjoy! It follows Forky; a new friend that... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 27, 2019

Why I hated Toy Story 4

The reason I despise this movie is because it had a horrible scene where a kid was lost and her parents were not around. She was crying very hard. Trust me. If... Continue reading

What's the story?

TOY STORY 4 begins with a flashback to a rainy night nine years earlier, during which Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and a crop of Andy's toys work to save RC from being swept away by the storm. Later that same night, Andy's little sister, Molly, gives her porcelain Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and sheep away. Woody tries to save Bo, but she's actually fine with being passed along to another child, so the two say goodbye. Fast-forward to the toys' current home with rising kindergartner Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw). Although Woody isn't one of Bonnie's favorite toys (she prefers Jessie), he stows away in her backpack to comfort her through school orientation, where he helps her make a special toy: a spork with googly eyes, pipe cleaner arms, and popsicle stick feet whom she names "Forky." Forky (Tony Hale) unexpectedly comes to life, but, despite Woody's explanations, he believes he's trash and keeps trying to throw himself in the garbage. While the family is on a road trip, Forky flees, Woody follows to get him back, and the two bond as they make their way back to Bonnie. But the plan goes sideways when Woody sees Bo Peep's lamp on display in an antique store, and Forky ends up being held hostage by 1950s baby doll Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), who has designs on Woody's vintage voice box.

Is it any good?

Spectacularly animated and remarkably poignant, this Woody-centric fourth installment introduces memorable new friends and brings back beloved old ones for one more adventure. Although Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Rex (Wallace Shawn), the Potato Heads, and the rest of the gang still have a part to play, this story is firmly Woody's. He grapples with transitioning from a favorite toy to one who's occasionally left in the closet and then becoming the self-proclaimed protector of Forky, who's having a (hilarious) existential crisis about whether he's trash (it's warm and cozy, and where he feels he belongs) or toy. Hale is perfectly cast as the quirky, inquisitive Forky. And Potts is fabulous as the now wiser, street-savvy Bo, who's able to see the joy of being a free-range toy. She's not bound by the changing whims of a child who can outgrow her playthings.

Along with Forky, the new characters who have the most impact are insecure Canadian stuntman Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) and buddies Bunny (Jordan Peele) and Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key), sewn-together stuffed animals who are supposed to be a top carnival prize but wind up following Buzz on his mission to rescue Woody and Forky. The duo's familiar chemistry and banter offer some of the movie's key laugh-aloud moments (like their schemes to attack humans). Gabby Gabby and her creepy ventriloquist dummies aren't the most frightening of villains -- especially after it turns out that they, like most angry folks, are just misunderstood. Ultimately, this is a story about Woody and his reconnection with Bo. Her development is one of the most fascinating in Pixar history. She may not have super powers, but Bo Peep is every bit as incredible as Elastigirl, and she'll do whatever it takes to save her sheep and her friends. Ever since 1995, this beautifully animated franchise has taught audiences about the power of play, and this installment is a powerful capstone on that legacy. (Passionate Pixar fans should watch for the film's many Easter eggs, which cover the entire Pixar universe.)

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether Toy Story 4 brings the story to a satisfying conclusion. Do you think the franchise feels complete?

  • How do the characters in Toy Story 4 demonstrate teamwork, empathy, and courage? What about perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

  • Discuss the violence/peril in the movie. Is it important to the story? Why or why not? How much and what kinds of violence are age-appropriate for younger audiences?

  • How has Bo Peep changed from the early films? Do you consider her a role model? How does her storyline/character offer a positive example of gender representation?

  • How does this fourth installment compare to the first three? Which one do you like most, and why? What is the role of consumerism in the Toy Story movie franchise?

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