Film Review: Toy Story Films

by Julia DeKorte | 31 Mar 2023

Book Reviews

Toy Story 1

In the first of the four Toy Story movies, we are introduced to the gang of toys: Woody, a pull string sheriff cowboy doll, Rex, a plastic T-Rex, Mr. Potato Head, Bo Peep, Slinky Dog, and Hamm, a piggy bank. Andy, a young boy, regularly plays with his toys, coming up with new adventures every day, and the toys are happy as can be. However, when Andy gets a new toy for his birthday, not only does Woody now have to compete for Andy’s favorite, which, up until now, he has always been, but he also has to deal with Buzz Lightyear, the spaceman action figure that actually believes he is a spaceman on a mission.


When Buzz enters Andy’s room, all the toys are very impressed by Buzz’s bells and whistles. All accept Woody, who finds him insufferable – he thinks he’s the only Buzz Lightyear in the world! Woody and Buzz butt heads until Buzz accidentally falls out of the window, and the gang thinks Woody is at fault! The pair end up in the family car on their way to dinner, but when they stop for gas, they end up in a heated argument, and the car leaves without them. When they finally reach the pizza place Andy’s family is dining at, their evil neighbor, Sid, ends up taking them home. The toys have watched Sid and his sadistic ways through Andy’s bedroom window, but now there’s nothing protecting them from Sid’s destructive ways. It’s up to Woody to get them home to Andy.


Toy Story is a wonderfully heart-warming movie, packed with enough action to keep anyone entertained. Woody’s character also sets a great example for kids, he’s a loyal friend and leader, and never leaves anybody behind. Woody also isn’t perfect, he lets his jealousy get the best of him, which ends up causing way worse problems than not being Andy’s favorite toy. Seeing all your favorite toys come alive is also fun, while there were many toys that were created specifically for the movie, many others are featured that already existed, including Barbie, G.I. Joe, little green army men, and Barrel of Monkeys. All the toys work together to stick together, so they can happily be there for Andy whenever he needs them.


Toy Story 2

The return of Woody and Buzz starts off with the toys’ worst nightmare: a garage sale. When some of their own are taken to be sold, Woody sets off on a rescue mission, but he catches a customer’s eye. After Andy’s mom explains that Woody isn’t for sale, the customer, named Al McWhiggin, steals him, and runs off, all while the rest of the toys watch in horror. Their fearless leader has been taken, and now it’s up to them to get him back.


Meanwhile, Woody is taken to Al McWhiggin’s apartment, where Woody discovers that he is an incredible valuable collectible doll from an old T.V. show called “Woody’s Roundup,” and All McWhiggin is a collector. He has all the other pieces from Woody’s Roundup and a lot of other licensed merchandise, and now that he has Woody, he plans to sell everything to a museum in Japan. Woody knows he has to escape and get back to Andy, but the other toys from Woody’s Roundup, Jesse, the cowgirl, Bullseye, his horse, and Stinky Pete the Prospector don’t want him to leave. Without him, they’re doomed to more decades in storage. While Woody fights to escape, Jesse tries to stop him, all the while Buzz and the gang are traveling great distances to get to Woody. Will they be able to rescue Woody before he’s shipped off to Japan?


Toy Story 2 was an excellent follow up to Toy Story. The toys are on another mission, this time with new obstacles, new characters, and new lessons to be learned. Woody remains as loyal as ever, and all the new toys become irreplaceable, part of the gang. Sequels are often a let down, but Toy Story 2 went above and beyond, or should I say, to infinity and beyond!


Toy Story 3

In Toy Story 3, the day the toys have been dreading all their life has come: Andy is leaving for college. As Andy decides which toys will be stored in the attic and which will be donated to a daycare, the gang waits with bated breath. Woody, Andy decided, would be coming to college with him, while the rest of the gang would take up residence in the attic. But when a mix-up leads to the bag with the toys ending up on the curb, they take it upon themselves to go to daycare, against Woody’s protests. Woody, never one to leave a toy behind, goes with them, telling them once they see what daycare’s like, they’ll be wishing they were in Andy’s attic. And oh, was he correct.


The gang arrives at daycare and are greeted by Lotso, a snuggly, strawberry scented bear. He gives them a tour of the place, and the toys are excited to the children lovingly playing with all the toys. However, they’re assigned to the Caterpillar room, where the youngest kids play, and there is nothing gentle or loving about the way they play with toys. Miserable after their first day, Buzz asks if they can be transferred to the Butterfly room, where the older children play, and things go south from there. The toys realize that the daycare is run by Lotso and his gang of toys, and they run it like a toy prison. Realizing what a mistake they’ve made, the gang’s new mission is to escape. Not unlike a prison break, they formulate a plan, and if they want to make it back to Andy’s before he leaves for college, it better work.


Toy Story 3 was again, incredible. Toy Story is truly one of the only franchises that has not only a good sequel, but a good third movie as well. These toys grow up alongside kids – Andy ages with each film just as the kids who are watching. The ending of Toy Story sees Andy make a big, bittersweet decision, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up. Another wonderful showing of loyalty, teamwork, and kindness, Toy Story 3 was entertaining, action packed, and morally, a great example for kids.


Toy Story 4

With Toy Story 3 ending with Andy giving all his toys to Bonnie, viewers kind of believed that would be the ending of the trilogy. So when Toy Story 4 was announced nine years after the release of the last movie, everyone was wondering how the creators were going to come up with something that was not only as good as the first three movies, but also more relevant to the way that toys have changed over time. In Toy Story 4, Bonnie goes to kindergarten, and she’s quite nervous about it. Woody sneaks into her backpack and encourages her to do arts and crafts at school, and Bonnie creates Forky, a spork with googly eyes, pipe cleaner arms, and broken popsicle stick feet who wholeheartedly believes he is trash, and insists on attempting to launch himself into the nearest trashcan at every opportunity. But, Forky is the only thing getting Bonnie through kindergarten, so Woody makes it his responsibility to keep track of Forky, which only gets more difficult when the family decides to go on a road trip.


While on this road trip, Forky launches himself out of the window, and Woody, looking out for Bonnie, jumps out after him, and thus begins the adventure. They end up in an antique shop where they meet Gabby Gabby, a defective antique doll who’s never gotten the chance to be someone’s toy. Gabby Gabby realizes that Woody was made around the same time as her and has the voice box that she needs to not be defective. Taking Forky hostage, Gabby Gabby refuses to let him go unless she gets Woody’s voice box.


Woody makes it his mission to rescue Forky and get back to the RV before Bonnie and her family drive off. Luckily, he runs into an old friend that he hasn’t seen in nine years: Bo Peep. Bo, who was an innocent, kind-hearted figurine when she belonged to Molly, Andy’s sister, has turned into a fierce, nomadic, leader of a group that travels around helping toys and seeing the world. Together, Woody, Bo Peep, and many other new and old characters alike work together to try and defeat Gabby Gabby and rescue Forky so that Bonnie can go back to kindergarten.


The ending to Toy Story 4 was heavy. I almost want to say that I didn’t like it, but it kind of mirrors what it’s like to grow up. Sometimes you think you’re not ready yet, but it comes anyways, whether you like it or not. Like I’ve said before, the Toy Story toys grow up with the kids that are watching them, with the first movie coming out in 1995, the second in 1999, the third in 2010, and the fourth in 2019. The toys are faced with decisions and realities that the same kids who grew up watching Woody and Buzz on their next adventure are facing, and in that way, the gang not only helps Andy and Bonnie, but they help every child watching as well.

toy story woody buzz buzz lightyear bullseye jesse rex hamm mr. potato head mrs. potato head slinky slinky dog

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