I’m not allowed to say anything about Toy Story 4 in too much detail yet, but I have been permitted to share “social media reactions” for now.
Here’s what I’ve said so far on Twitter:
I saw Toy Story 4 at the AMC Metreon in San Francisco, where I’ve watched plenty of other Pixar films like Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory, Cars 3, Coco, and Incredibles 2. It’s a great theater worth checking out if you’re ever in town (I recommend getting the coffee served by an actual robot).
I happened to be sitting next to Jeffrey M. Anderson, film critic for The San Francisco Examiner, and we had a brief chat beforehand about the Fox lot in LA, one of the worst theaters in SF, and some other topics you probably won’t find as interesting as we did.
Jeffrey has been reviewing films for decades, and during all of Toy Story 4, I couldn’t help but notice how equally transfixed we were by what is admittedly a simple movie in many ways, and one primarily created for children. We both laughed with the film throughout, regardless (me more than him, to be clear).
This is worth bringing up, I think, because Toy Story has long served as a “stealth bridge” between older and younger generations. These movies have always been about nostalgia, but not an exclusive type of nostalgia you’ll see in lesser films trying to tap into potent emotions that wring the past dry.
Even a kid like me can have nostalgia for the first time I saw Toy Story in a theater (my second theatrical experience ever, after The Lion King). And when I first saw that film, I connected with Woody’s sense of anxiety when it came to feeling surpassed. In Toy Story 2, I felt his longing for existential purpose. In Toy Story 3, I wept like everyone else to see that purpose fulfilled. And now, in Toy Story 4, a movie about what you do after you’ve done your best, I’m weeping all over again.
Yes, Toy Story 4 does what it’s made to do. It’s an entertaining film that will make money because children will want to see it. And like in many other Pixar films, adults won’t feel left out when they see it, too. We can revel in the same, silent joy, keeping us connected to generations we don’t always fully understand.
Toy Story 4 is another wonderful return to a world I thought we’d seen the last of in any major way. But like Woody himself, this old film series still has a few new tricks.