Three Major Reasons Why I Disliked the "Toy Story 4" Trailer
I always wish that the blockbuster movie industry could learn how to just let a good thing be a good thing. The Toy Story series is, in fact, one of those good things, with the first three Toy Story films ranking on many movie-lovers’ list as one of the best and most beloved trilogies ever produced because of its triumphant debut in 1995, its endearing sequel in 1999, and its impassioned conclusion in 2010.
Producing a fourth installment after a clear and heartfelt ending, to me, is a mistake.
But this is Hollywood we’re talking about, and more important than great art or masterful storytelling in this industry is moneymaking. And with so much profit baked into toy sells and the Toy Story franchise itself, it makes business sense that Disney/Pixar would keep ‘em coming.
This week, we got our first full trailer showing off all of the Toy Story 4 main characters and outlining the general plot of the movie. You can watch it here:
It’s clear the trailer is trying to reach for the heartstrings, but for me, there are failures to this synopsis of the film that have me wishing for better. The film itself might turn out spectacular, but here are three reasons I did not like this trailer:
It Tries to Tell Us Too Much
The trailer for Toy Story 4 turns outlining the films plot into…literally…a carnival, with a whirlwind of plotlines, themes, and characters. You have a story arc where Woody goes out to save Forky. You then have another story arc featuring Bo Peep saving Woody. And then another story arc of the rest of the toys also trying to save Woody and Forky. There’s more “rescue” happening in this preview than 2 minutes and 27 seconds can cohesively convey.
In addition to the many storylines, there are a number of big themes also thrown in the mix; being made for a purpose, earning new perspective on purpose, change and learning how to adapt to it, loyalty, and a touch of Toy Story nostalgia just to add as a selling point. As admirable as these themes are, they’re thrown at the trailer like a shotgun blast and feel very disorganized.
It’s a trailer that, in trying to tell us as much as possible, comes out much clunkier than it should. Of course, it’s entirely possible that the movie weaves all of these adventures and themes as creatively and elegantly as the previous Toy Story films have, but the trailer failed to represent that.
It’s Lacking in Comedy and Originality
There are a few attempts at gags in this trailer. One notable moment being when Woody is trying to explain to Forky why he’s alive…a narrative decision I despise…and Forky not paying attention to any of it. Another moment being when the veteran toys are trying to figure out what Woody would do and Hamm says “jump out of a moving vehicle”, like Woody did earlier in the trailer, so Buzz does so. “When you gotta go, you gotta go,” Ham quickly says to add a punch.
These moments don’t work for me in this trailer. It could’ve been that execution was off, with the trailer needing to communicate so much in a finite amount of time, but I had a hard time finding a moment comical enough to laugh out loud at.
In addition, I didn’t feel that this trailer did a good enough job differentiating itself from previous Toy Story movies. A toy gets lost, the other toys must go save it, more toys are encountered along the way, everyone is taught a lesson by the end. Perhaps this is a formula Pixar wants to mass produce for the foreseeable future of Toy Story films, but if there’s nothing new to offer to the narrative, it’s a formula that will get old and worn very quickly now that the franchise is risking its entire reputation on more movies.
Which leads me to the thing I hated about this trailer:
It Doesn’t Demonstrate Why Toy Story 4 Is Necessary
Ultimately, the trailer for Toy Story 4 does not help me understand why it was necessary to override the cloud-patterned sky conclusion of Toy Story 3. Sure, it’s fun to see these toys on a brand new adventure. But why couldn’t this material be used for spin-off stories?
Perhaps I’m still just disgruntled at the fact that Disney/Pixar is gambling a near perfect trilogy on this fourth film. As I’ve said, regardless of how I feel about this trailer, there’s still a chance that Toy Story 4 somehow manages to become a worthy addition to the franchise. The trailer might’ve been lackluster, but I’m hoping Toy Story 4 is still a good thing.