I grew up with the Toy Story movies, meaning some of my earliest movie memories are of the first two movies. What I associate the franchise with beyond excellent animation, good storytelling, etc. is a warmth that I don’t feel from many films. The characters and settings are so familiar to me. No other movies can recreate the way I feel watching a Toy Story film, in terms of nostalgia or joy.

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record with all the sequels/reboots released this summer, but I have to say I was worried about how well Pixar would be able to continue these beloved movies. Toy Story 3 was supposed to be the end. There wasn’t much wiggle room left for the creators to expand upon that story (although they did find some).

The main reason I chose to have faith in what “Toy Story 4” could be was because I trust Pixar as a studio. Considering the incredible sequel work they did with Incredibles 2 last summer, I was conservatively hopeful that Pixar could deliver, as they consistently have for years.

Despite these conflicting feelings, before going to the theater opening night, I never really stopped to consider whether Pixar would be able to capture the warmth of Toy Story on top of the other token characteristics that made the movies resonate.

It was only after the first 30 minutes or so when I realized how familiar the movie felt, not to say the movie wasn’t innovative. Familiar in terms of how I felt while watching it.

I know I haven’t fully left my childhood, yet Pixar managed to transport me back to that sense of wonder and investment in fiction I haven’t experienced in a long time. My family continuously watches Pixar movies, however none of them meant what the Toy Story movies meant to me.

I’d forgotten how I’d always want to cry during the scene about Jesse’s past in “Toy Story 2” or how horrifying I’d find Sid’s workshop in Toy Story 1. It didn’t matter that I’ve aged or matured intellectually. This movie meant as much to me now as the previous movies meant to me then.

There’s a certain magic to what Pixar is able to do. I don’t know why I’m still surprised every time I finish a Pixar movie to rediscover that they have the capability to weave so much emotion out of nothing.

Now that I’m done waxing on about my love for Pixar, I can get into more specifics about the movie.

The animation is out of this world and note, I’m not the type to take special notice of that in an animated film. I just have to acknowledge the clarity and vivid color of the picture.

There were also several laugh out loud moments, including one that had me laughing so hard I was sure I was going to throw up, start crying, or both.

The story felt new, all while maintaining continuity with what I know from the previous Toy Story movies. At its core, the plot was touching and multi-faceted.

There will always be people out there who remain skeptical of animation, labelling as merely entertainment for children. If you are one of those people, let me respectfully tell you to be more open minded. Animation, specifically Pixar animated movies, may be primarily marketed towards children, but I guarantee you there is something for everyone to take away in all of them.

In short, I should never doubt Pixar again. “Toy Story 4” is an absolutely beautiful ride with the right balance of everything a person needs from a movie. It is a must see for all ages, regardless of your opinions on animated films.

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