The fourth (and supposedly final) instalment of Toy Story has been warmly welcomed by critics.
Woody, Buzz and Jessie are returning nine years after they said goodbye to Andy and settled into their new home with Bonnie at the end of Toy Story 3.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy said: “It’s now certain what one of the summer’s blockbusters will be.
“More than that, how many other film series can legitimately claim to have hit four home runs in a row?” he added.
Variety’s Peter Debruge said the movie gives “satisfying emotional closure”, adding that “the fourth movie wraps up the saga beautifully”.
He added the film “explores the idea of purgatory: What’s it like for a plaything to be ignored, overlooked or entirely unused?”
Toy Story 4, which is released in the UK on 21 June, sees the toys grapple with the idea of the jumble sale crate, and the possibility of being left without a purpose when their owners grow up.
It also introduces Forky, a spork who has been given a makeover in a craft project and is in denial about the fact he’s now a toy.
However The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw awarded it just three stars, adding the film is “a repeat of earlier ideas and plotlines”.
But he added: “Compare it to the fourth films in other franchises and Pixar’s latest is an amusing and charming gem… it is in a different league.
“It is sprightly, sweet-natured and gorgeous to look at (and how blase we’ve all become about animation standards that 10 years ago had us hyperventilating with astonishment). There are some nice lines and a nifty allusion to Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.”
Writing in The Mirror, Chris Hunneysett highlighted the contrast between Toy Story and the slew of superhero films hitting cinemas.
“With cinema dominated by universe-smashing superheroes, Toy Story’s sweet brand of wholesome and slightly scary fun seems almost quaint, but as a parent it’s great to have a film which offers more gentle and almost innocent pleasures.”
Many reviews talk about the message behind the Toy Story films, with Alex Abad-Santos of Vox saying this film’s “lesson is about how love defines us”.
In his five-star review for The Telegraph, Robbie Collin wrote: “Woody and co will have you sobbing like a lawn sprinkler”, and that “Toy Story has always been game to grapple with the big questions of life and purpose”.
The film, which was directed by Josh Cooley, who co-wrote and storyboarded Pixar’s emotional hit Inside Out, also made the newspaper’s reviewer “shake with laughter at least once every five minutes”.
Mashable’s Angie Han said: “Forky’s questions aren’t invalid for being fundamentally unanswerable, and they eventually become the catalyst for Woody’s own journey of self-reflection.”
‘Separation and loss’
“Pixar has done it again with the funniest of the series” and “Toy Story 4 is a complete and utter joy,” The Sun’s film critic Jamie East said:.
He echoed Bradshaw in The Guardian, who said: “There’s little point in talking too much about the storyline because it’s largely more of the same – toys escape/go missing/get rescued – which has been the constant throughout. I don’t mind though, because I don’t think that is the films’ strength”.
The Independent’s Geoffrey Macnab added that “separation and loss are the key drivers in Toy Story 4… there is no permanence in the relationships depicted here.”
“There is still a valid tale to tell,” said the Daily Mail’s Brian Viner, “that of Woody (voiced, as ever, by Tom Hanks) resolving his existential crisis by finding an enduring purpose in a post-Andy world.”
Nigel Andrews of The Financial Times simply adds: “Don’t hang about if there is a cinema near you. If there isn’t, take a train or bus. This is a funny, clever, inventive, richly endearing film.”