Toy Story 4 (2019) Review

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Directed by Josh Cooley

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack

Music by Randy Newman

Production Company Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.

My Opinion:

I adore Pixar. I think they make all-time classic family films that are far better than the majority of live-action films these days. When they became a part of Disney, I knew we might get the problem of “too many sequels” since Disney love to squeeze out these easy money-makers. I know we all love these characters but did we really need yet another Toy Story film after such a perfect trilogy? No, we didn’t. Is it bad? Of course not. Other than the Cars films, Pixar don’t tend to make bad movies. Even their “not as good” films are way better than animated films from other studios. Toy Story 4 really did feel a bit pointless to me, though. While I enjoyed it and liked seeing Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang again, I felt very underwhelmed after thinking about it for a while. I also saw it a second time as extended family wanted to go to it so it was interesting to find that I actually liked it a little less the second time. I didn’t expect that.

I’ll start with the good: Forky is a great new character. I loved his whole existential crisis and wish they had actually explored that much more than they did. We also get a lot of Woody for people who are Woody fans. Wow – these names sound a bit dirty… Who wants a good Woody Forky!?! (I do). I also loved the creepy ass dummies because creepy ass dummies are awesome (I highly recommend the movies Magic and Dead Of Night if you like creepy ass dummies). I loved getting to find out what happened to Bo Peep since they just dropped her ass from these films and it’s great that she turned out to be pretty damn cool. And the animation is AMAZING. Remember when the first Toy Story came out and we were shocked at how brilliant it looked? It looks so primitive now compared to Toy Story 4. OH! I almost forgot to mention Keanu! Keanu Reeves is in this so, of course, his mere presence makes every movie better (in my opinion, at least).


Now for some of the “not so good” things: Buzz Lightyear had nothing to do in this. Neither did Jessie. Both were really wasted in this film (as were all our most beloved original characters other than Woody & Bo Peep, obviously). I know Woody was the focus of this one but that’s always been the case yet other main characters still got some decent screen time in the other movies. I wasn’t all that into the whole Gabby Gabby story, either, as its outcome was so extremely predictable. I also think they haven’t managed to get us to like Bonnie & her family all that much compared to how we feel about Andy & his mother. It just seems like we know Andy far better than we do Bonnie. Oh, and Ducky & Bunny were annoying more often than funny. The only good new addition to this one was Forky. Oh, and Duke Caboom! But that’ll be because I adore Keanu. I’d just rather have spent more time with our favorite characters than with a bunch of new ones. To be fair, a lot of new characters were added to Toy Story 3 as well but they were far stronger than the new additions to this one. I also found that the jokes in this one, for whatever reason, didn’t make me laugh the second time around whereas I still love every funny bit from the other three films. (Well, except for the high-five Combat Carl bit, which cracked me the hell up both times)

Toy Story 4 was okay. At least it’s much better than Monsters University and Finding Dory as far as Pixar sequels go. It just doesn’t have the heart of the first or the third Toy Story or the humor of the second one. People are saying they got emotional all over again with Toy Story 4 but I didn’t feel that way in the slightest. I just about burst into tears at the end of Toy Story 3. Maybe I’m just heartless now? But Inside Out still gets me feeling all emotional every damn time (and I’ve seen that one a lot now), so I think I just have sequel burnout. Enough with the sequels, please! I still love these characters and, yes, I always enjoy seeing them. But I can’t pretend that I didn’t find Toy Story 4 unnecessary.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Love, Simon (2018) Review 

Love, Simon (2018)

Directed by Greg Berlanti

Based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Starring: Nick Robinson, Bryson Pitts, Nye Reynolds, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, Logan Miller, Talitha Bateman, Skye Mowbray, Tony Hale, Natasha Rothwell, Drew Starkey, Clark Moore, Joey Pollari, Mackenzie Lintz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

My Opinion:

I recently read the YA novel this movie is based on (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – review HERE). I enjoyed the book and would say it’s one of the better YA romances I’ve read recently so was looking forward to seeing how well they did with the movie adaptation (even though romance isn’t really my thing). I have to say that this is one of the rare occasions where the movie is possibly slightly better than the book. It’s close.

They did change quite a few details from the book, which doesn’t always work for people who want to see the story in the exact same way. For example: They added more humor to the movie (a lot of this via a vice principal who didn’t exist in the novel) and Simon has only one instead of two sisters. The changes don’t negatively affect the overall story, though. Simon still feels like the same character from the book and the romance still works well. Actually, Simon feels a little more “real” in the film. His internal struggle is also somehow more apparent and believable in the movie. I think Nick Robinson has done a good job with Simon as it’s not often that a movie character feels slightly more fleshed out than the book character. His family also feel closer in the movie and I liked that they spent plenty of time focusing on his relationship with his them as well as with his friends.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good teen book and/or movie. If you’re a reader, I definitely recommend reading the book and then watching the movie. There are enough changes that it’s worth knowing both stories. Overall, the film is slightly better and the characters feel more realistic but I far prefer the ending in the book. I’ll of course avoid spoilers but the film adds a little too much drama to a final scene, making me prefer the more likely scenario in the book. This scene was the only time the film felt a little false, though. Overall, the topic is handled very well. The movie uses humor and sensitivity and thankfully never goes over the top on drama. Being from the John Hughes generation, I can’t say I’m going to be able to fully relate to a modern teen movie but I’m glad that current teens have films like Love, Simon. It’s a good film with enjoyable characters and I’m sure it’ll be a favorite for many current teens. Judging by its 8.1 rating on IMDb, it seems to be a favorite already.

My Rating: 7/10

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli & Every Day by David Levithan (Book Reviews)

I recently posted mini-reviews of these books in my March Roundup of all that I watched & read last month. I’m posting these same reviews again as Love, Simon is now out in UK cinemas and Every Day has a release date of April 20th.

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) came out in UK cinemas last Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me!

My Rating: 4/5

Every Day by David Levithan

This is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines (mini-review HERE), I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though.

My Rating: 3/5

Here are the trailers for the movies: