Toy Story 4 underwhelmingly ended the Toy Story franchise

Toy Story 4 movie via WD press
Toy Story 4 movie via WD press /
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Toy Story 4 definitively ended the Toy Story film franchise. However, it did so in an underwhelming fashion and made me question if it was needed.

Toy Story 4 premiered over the weekend and it definitively ended the Toy Story film franchise. The first Toy Story movie was the first film I saw in theaters. Toy Story 2 added characters and a familial touch to the franchise. Toy Story 3 saw Andy graduate and him give Bonnie the toys. I was eager to see Toy Story 4. I left the theaters disappointed in Toy Story 4, and I even question whether Disney needed to make Toy Story 4.

Fair warning, this article will contain spoilers. Toy Story 4 answered why Bo Peep (Annie Potts) was not in Toy Story 3. Andy’s sister, Molly, agreed to get rid of some of her toys, including Bo Peep. Woody (Tom Hanks) tried to persuade her to stay, but she said her journey lay elsewhere. She even offered for him to join her, but upon hearing Andy wondering where he was, Woody declined.

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After saying goodbye to Bo Peep, Toy Story 4 flashed back to highlights from its previous installments. It was sweet to see, and it was necessary. It had been nine years since a Toy Story film hit theaters.

The biggest issue with Toy Story 4 was its focus on Woody and Bo Peep. Woody remained focused on saving Forky (Tony Hale), a toy created by Bonnie. Forky jumped out the RV window on a road trip, and then he was captured by Gabby Gabby (Madeline McGraw). Woody attempted to return to the gang for help, but he met Bo Peep.

They dominated screen time, leaving little room for the other characters. Rex, the Potato Heads, and Jesse were severely neglected. We cherish those characters and the laughter they bring, yet they were reduced to a minor role. Bullseye doesn’t talk, but his interactions with the characters add to the love of the Toy Story franchise.

Toy Story
Toy Story 4 movie via WD press /

Even Buzz (Tim Allen) didn’t receive enough screen time. He largely wondered what to do in tough situations, and he struggled leading the gang. This surprised me because he led the gang to rescue Woody in Toy Story 2.

The overabundance of characters left too many characters underutilized in Toy Story 4, and it weakened the film. If Disney wanted to continue the franchise, it would be better suited as a TV show. There are enough characters to keep things interesting and entertaining. While I thought Toy Story 4 disappointed, I’d be curious to see a TV show about the franchise.

Gabby Gabby was an inadequate antagonist in Toy Story 4. Her henchmen were terrifying, so viewers knew Gabby Gabby had sinister intentions for helping Woody. She befriended Forky, but it was to lure Woody to return to save him. She kept Bo Peep’s sheep, but that was again to entice Woody to return to the antique store. When Woody returned to the antique store by himself, she immediately cornered him.

Toy Story 4 movie via WD press
Toy Story 4 movie via WD press /

She then talked about the importance of being loved by a kid. She had a flaw; her voice box was defective. So she convinced Woody to exchange his voice box for Forky. She had the upper hand, but she uncharacteristically changed shortly thereafter.

When the store owner’s granddaughter refused to adopt Gabby Gabby, she became resigned. She even rolled over, offering Woody his voice box back. What would’ve been more in character was to go on a tyrannical tear, similar to Lotso in Toy Story 3.

To add to this poor plot development, Woody offered her to join Bonnies’ toys. She kidnapped Forky, she strong-armed Woody to give her his voice box, and yet he showed her compassion. In The Lion King, Simba offered Scar the chance to run away, but he didn’t want him around Pride Rock. Here, Woody not only accepted her, he befriended her.

As they hustled back to Bonnie’s family RV, Gabby Gabby saw the opportunity to comfort a lost girl. Woody and Bo Peep encouraged her to be friendly, and the little girl adopted her.

In other Disney animated films, the villain doesn’t receive a happy ending. Scar in The Lion King, Ursula in The Little Mermaid, and other villains died. In 101 Dalmatians, nobody died, but Cruella de Ville wrecked her car, and in the live version, she was arrested. Gabby Gabby was a different antagonist, but her character arc developed into the wrong direction.

Finally, the ending of Toy Story 4 was bittersweet, but it lacked the gravitas promised by Tim Allen and Tom Hanks. They claimed the ending was overly emotional. The ending saw Woody bid goodbye to the gang and stay with Bo Peep, but it wasn’t as monumental as the ending of Toy Story 3.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - JUNE 08: In this Handout provided by Disney Resorts, Stars from DisneyPixars Toy Story 4 Woody (in costume), Tom Hanks (2nd-L), Tim Allen (2nd-R) and Buzz Lightyear (in costume) appear with characters from the film inside Toy Story Land at Disneys Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort on June 8, 2019 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Disney Resorts via Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – JUNE 08: In this Handout provided by Disney Resorts, Stars from DisneyPixars Toy Story 4 Woody (in costume), Tom Hanks (2nd-L), Tim Allen (2nd-R) and Buzz Lightyear (in costume) appear with characters from the film inside Toy Story Land at Disneys Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort on June 8, 2019 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Disney Resorts via Getty Images) /

Because Woody spent much of the movie away from the gang, the goodbye wasn’t as sad. Buzz and Woody hugged goodbye, but they lacked their signature parting words. Buzz should’ve said, “So long, partner,” to which Woody should’ve replied, “To infinity and beyond.”

Instead, once they departed from each other, they split up the phrase, “To infinity and beyond.” Disney missed a golden opportunity to say goodbye to this long-time friendship in this most tear-jerking way.

When Woody said goodbye to Jesse, he gave her his sheriff star. She has been around since Toy Story 2, so it was a fitting way for the two toys to part ways.

Lastly, Woody bid farewell to Forky, but he only group hugged the rest of the gang. Hamm, Rex, Slinky, and the Potato Heads have been around since the beginning. It didn’t feel appropriate for Woody, who has been overly loyal to the gang.

Obviously, I was disappointed with Toy Story 4. For the record, I greatly enjoyed the first three Toy Story movies. I graduated with Andy! He gave the toys to Bonnie, and the toys were content with their new owner. They were ready for their next journey, the next chapter of their lives after the movie ended. I was eager to see how the franchise continued the toys journey in this film. Unfortunately, I left the theater thinking the third film was a better way to end the franchise.

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Toy Story 4 is now theaters everywhere!