When it was first announced that Disney would be releasing a fourth Toy Story film, there were some cries of consternation — Toy Story 3 had seemed the perfect ending to the franchise, as we saw Andy drive off to college, leaving Woody, Buzz and the gang behind with a new child, Bonnie.
But while there were fears that the fourth film was simply an unnecessary money spinner, it seems we need not be too worried. Although there are some quibbles that the plot feels a little repetitive, many critics have praised the characterisation and the film's overall "charm".
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The Hollywood Reporter calls Toy Story 4 "an entirely wonderful continuation of the series that 24 years ago launched an era in the annals of animation."
"It's been nearly a decade since Toy Story 3 put a satisfying capper on what seemed likely to remain a trilogy, but the same level of wit, imagination and, yes, magic has been summoned to create yet another fully worthy sibling."
THR also praised the addition of "show-off Duke Caboom ("Canada's Greatest Stuntman"), whom Keanu Reeves helps turn into an egotistical hoot", while The Telegraph calls Toy Story 4 "outstanding," with an ending that had critic Robbie Collin "sobbing like a lawn sprinkler".
"Although it doesn't exactly reach the emotional heights of the previous films, the conclusion is still effective and well executed," the Associated Press concludes.
Critics were also impressed by Forky, a plastic spork that Bonnie turns into a toy (compete with pipe cleaner arms and googly eyes) and inadvertently brings to life.
"Forky alone is enough to elevate this potential cash-grab into the beautiful and hilarious coda that its long-running series needed to be truly complete. Forky is the hero we need in 2019," Indiewire writes.
"Pixar could easily retire this series with a clean sweep of films that have been lovely to look at and moving and funny to watch. But if they can maintain this level of wonderful, keep 'em coming," The Wrap adds.
However, Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian argues that the "movie is fundamentally repeating itself: repeating characters, ideas and plotlines – even if it does it with buoyancy and charm."
Entertainment Weekly seems to concur, calling the movie "haphazardly endearing," and adding that it "doesn’t hit the emotional highs of the previous films. There are good jokes that work and heist setpieces that don't".
"I don’t know if Toy Story 4 is the best of the series, but it might be, and it solidifies the franchise as perhaps the best quadrilogy in cinema history," Forbes concludes.
The film will be released in both the UK and US on Friday 21st June 2019, and after these reviews we think we'll be booking our cinema ticket early...