Last night we went to see Toy Story 4 at our local middle class restored art deco cinema. Most middle class towns have one of them these days. If you don’t then you must be working class scum. We decided to taxi it and shared a bottle of wine and had a few snacks and all in the experience cost roughly £65 but hey, it was Toy Story 4 and who doesn’t like a bit of Toy Story? Well, as of last night, me. I’m currently trying not to think about all the worthwhile things we could have used that 65 quid for and I’m also crouched by the letterbox waiting for my letter of apology from Pixar and Tom Hanks. Toy Story 4 would have been a big mistake if it had been awful and a lucky roll if it had been magnificent, but instead it made the fatal error of being, well, just a bit shit.
A bit shit is probably the worst thing any film can be. Certainly for a big budget, high level effort. A four lane car crash of a film was never really meant to be but you have to have some respect for those film makers who secretly know they’re making a crap film and still just go ahead with it. And at least those films sometimes have the advantage of being unintentionally funny. At the other end of the scale is the thin end of the wedge – everything from great to truly brilliant – and there really aren’t that many of them. Instead we have mezzanine cinema these days, touted great films that end up being the second level down from second best, a wet willy, a soggy biscuit and a big fat waste of anyone’s money. Boohoo.
Where Toy Story 4 goes wrong is that it tries to be clever and play to our nostalgic glimpses of childhood but also an actual time when Toy Story was a real event and Pixar was a grand new dawn in cinematic forward motion. And that doesn’t work because it can’t work and it can’t work because a film about childhood that keeps over-reaching will always reach that little bit too far – I watched the first one when I was 19 and now I’m 43 – would I still bother with any other franchise that lasted that long other than my bank account? Of course not. But that’s not the greatest failing. Not yet.
Where Toy Story 4 really fucks up is by forgetting what we liked in the first place; the characters we came to know and love, the fiddly buggers we fell in love with and on some level almost cared about as we would any other laughable figment of our own imagination. This film is trying to stretch that out a bit further but it fails because it ends up being about Woody and some new toys and forgets about the rest. And that isn’t why I like Toy Story. I like Toy Story for its ensemble cast and I don’t mind if they add a few but that shouldn’t be at the expense of all the others that made it great to start with. Like so much in life you should keep the people that make it work; no worries adding to it but start taking away and you’ll end up with a lot less than you started with. Poor Woody, poor Hanks, poor Pixar and poor us. I was bored ten minutes in and that’s never a good sign. Mind you, I get bored very easily. Your call.
G B Hewitt.10.08.2109
PS – Wifey, without prior discussion, said almost the same thing about this film, and that is why we are such a hot couple! And I should also mention that I’m quite pleased with the title.
PPS – it’s late, apologies for slackness in any department.