Toy Story 4 (2019)

Director: Josh Cooley

Cast: 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

Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom

100 mins. Rated G.

IMDb Top 250: #132 (as of 7/9/2019)

 

We didn’t need a Toy Story 4. That’s what I kept saying. We just didn’t need it. Toy Story 3 was a great ending to a solid trilogy and we didn’t need to muddy the waters with another installment almost destined to be terrible. We trusted Pixar not to ruin this one, and our trust in them was worth it.

It’s been two years since Andy gave his toys over to Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw, American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp) and departed for college, and the toys have been on a great many adventures since then. Andy’s favorite toy Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks, Cast Away, The Post) is struggling, though, as he has been seemingly forgotten by Bonnie when playtime occurs, but he remains vigilant in his duties to protect her, so when she becomes nervous at kindergarten orientation and makes a new toy, Forky (Tony Hale, Batman Ninja, TV’s Arrested Development), out of some trash and crafting supplies, Woody takes it upon himself to teach Forky how to be the best toy he can be. During this time, Bonnie and her family are on a vacation in the RV, and at one of the stops, Woody spots a lamp at an antique store that he believes may belong to Bo Peep (Annie Potts, Ghostbusters, TV’s Young Sheldon), a toy that one belonged to Andy’s sister, one that he cared for very deeply. Woody and Forky also come across the menacing Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks, Ginger & Rosa, TV’s Good Girls), a defective antique toy who wants Woody’s voice box for her own. Now, Woody must return Forky to Bonnie without getting caught by Gabby Gabby, and he is also forced to confront his own wants in the process.

Let’s cover the purpose of Toy Story 4, because if there was one criticism in just about any fan’s mind as they enter the theater, it’s the question of WHY? Why Toy Story 4? Well, I will say this. I think Toy Story 4 is the second-best film in the series behind the third film. That being said, I think Toy Story 4’s ending is so much better than the third film. It leaves up in a very satisfying place and works very well in questioning everything that came before. It’s a film that looks at the toys we have and asks a lot of questions.

This is very much Woody’s story, and he goes on it mostly without the help of the other toys, encountering lots of new characters in the process. While Toy Story 3 is the ending of the story in relation to Andy, Toy Story 4 takes a good hard look at Woody, a toy that has always been in service of his human, but he is confronted with the very real idea that he may not be Bonnie’s favorite toy. His character arc, especially in relation to Forky’s existential crisis of self, is very well-layered and something I’ve always wanted more out of.

The new characters are so wonderful as well. Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu, TV’s Friends from College) and Jordan Peele (Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, TV’s The Twilight Zone) appear together as Ducky and Bunny, two sentient toys made sown-together at the hands, and they are an absolute delight. Key and Peele use the classic comedic timing and chemistry that they’ve been known for to make this the funniest of the Toy Story movies. They had me in stitches, never once ruining the scene by trying to hard.

Then, there’s Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves, The Matrix, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), a Canadian daredevil toy with a motorcycle capable of performing incredible stunts, or at least, that’s what the commercials had said. I love all the character Reeves packed into such a limited screen time. He worked tirelessly on embodying his character with the director, and it shows in the work. His is a similar character to the one that Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen, El Camino Christmas, TV’s Home Improvement) was in the first film: a toy that is coming to terms with its limits. He is broken on the inside because he was never able to meet the expectations of his commercial.

The only real flaw I had with Toy Story 4 is that I believe that Gabby Gabby is probably the worst villain of the entire franchise. It sounds like I may be in the minority on this one, but I’m going to speak my reasons and let them stand. I never found Gabby Gabby as a villain to be very menacing. Yes, she’s a little creepy and her henchmen ventriloquist dummies are certainly frightening and strange enough, but I never really saw her as villainous in the way that I saw, say, Lotso from Toy Story 3. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like she was antagonistic but never villainous.

Toy Story 4 also feels, at times, like a big game of I Spy. The antique store, where a good portion of the film is set, is chock full of Easter Eggs and references to other Pixar films, to Toy Story films, and to other pop culturally iconic movies, most notably The Shining, which has always had a somewhat odd connection to the Toy Story franchise. Then, there’s voice cameos galore, many of which I didn’t catch until someone told me about them after the film ended. It’s just a celebration of so much magic that Disney and Pixar can craft.

Toy Story 4 is the perfect true finale to the franchise, one I hope they actually keep to, and I absolutely adored this movie. It’s the ending that feels most earned, not just throughout this installment, but through the entire series. It’s a powerful finale that will drive many to tears, this writer included. I really enjoyed it.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

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Director: Paul Feig

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Cecily Strong, Andy Garcia, Charles Dance, Michael K. Williams, Matt Walsh, Chris Hemsworth

Screenplay: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig

116 mins. Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor.

 

Yes, it’s that Ghostbusters film review.

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Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy, TV’s Gilmore Girls, The Boss) and Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig, The Martian, How to Train Your Dragon 2) were once partners, true believers, and friends, but that was a long time ago. The two have grown apart due to Erin’s attempts at unbelieving in the paranormal that brought the two together in the first place, but a rogue copy of the paranormal research book that Abby and Erin wrote years earlier surfaces and causes them to reunite alongside Abby’s new colleague Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon, TV’s Saturday Night Live, Finding Dory) and…uh, the one who drives the car, Patty (Leslie Jones, Trainwreck, Top Five). Together, the Ghostbusters must use their tools and expertise to stop a maniac trying to create an otherworldly invasion.

After watching the “Most Disliked” Trailer Ever on Youtube (yeah, it holds that distinction) and seeing one of the worst marketing campaigns in film history, I was extremely nervous. After all, I’ve been a fan of this franchise since I’ve known fear (that Vigo the Carpathian painting still unnerves me) and I’ve been frustratingly watching as hopes of a third film slowly dwindled into nothingness all because of Bill Murray. Yeah, I put all the blame on him. So, I was very judgmental of this reboot from the very beginning. I paid no attention to the gender-swapping in the movie because it didn’t really bother me. I just didn’t really care. What I did care about was a fun and frightful adventure that stayed true to the original but forged its own path.

For the most part, I actually really enjoyed Ghostbusters: Answer the Call. There were so many great elements and the fact that it wasn’t a straight remake really won me over. The Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat) comedy  was really funny and even though it missed the frights, it didn’t completely take me out of the experience.

There was a glaring issue that, for some, might not be a big deal. For me, it really was. This glaring issue was the decision to ignore the previous two installments. Instead of a brave decision, it felt like a slap in the face, especially with so many of the original performers returning for stupid cameos. Not a single cameo in this film made me happy except for the return of Ernie Hudson. Why Feig and fellow screenwriter Katie Dippold didn’t make this a passing of the torch I’ll never know. All it would have taken was one scene of Dan Aykroyd handing the equipment over to his neice or something. It wouldn’t even have had to been a good passing of the torch to be better than the complete retconning of the franchise. A true miss that is really the one major problem I had in an otherwise mostly enjoyable film experience.

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Perhaps one day we will get the extended cut we deserve with the original 4-hour cut that Paul Feig originally ended up with. For now, we will have to settle with a pretty fun film that pays homage and walks its own path. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the laugh-out-loud work from Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Star Trek) as Kevin the receptionist. Now, I don’t know if we are getting Ghostbusters: Answer the Call 2 down the road (the box office numbers aren’t exactly screaming for it) but I can only hope to see more adventures from this crew.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

So have you seen Ghostbusters: Answer the Call yet? What did you think? And what is your preferred horror/comedy of choice? Let me know!

 

 

For my review of Paul Feig’s The Heat, click here.

New Ghostbusters Trailer Isn’t Sure What It Is!

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Hey everyone,

So the first official trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot landed, and it’s pretty disappointing.

The trailer starts out very promising, reminding us that 30 years ago, this franchise began. There is a beautiful hint of the original film’s theme. Then, it goes on to show that this film is likely to be a note-for-note less interesting retread of the original film. SO help me if they do damage to Zuul or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!

Seriously, they director Paul Feig (The Heat) didn’t see a problem making all these characters sound the exact same and even shoehorning the black character as the one who drives them all around.

Then, there’s the issue of the CGI. I don’t mind a CGI-fest if it suits the film. So far, I’m not convinced that this iteration will embrace the horror elements that made the first two films so popular.

But the most irksome part of this trailer…I’m not sure if this film knows how to market itself at all. Is this a sequel or a remake? The beginning says one thing; the ending another. I would prefer a reboot that continues the story. It makes the film feel less lazy, and you have the ability to include cameos and hints without forcing the new story on anyone.

The new Ghostbusters doesn’t have a lot to promise if the trailer is any indication. I’m sorry to say it. In fact, it hurts to say it. I’ve been saying for years that this franchise could have a lot of steam to it, and now I’m not so sure.

So what do you think? Have you seen the Ghostbusters trailer and what did you think? Which 1980s franchise would you like to see rebooted for the new generation? Check out the trailer below, and let me know!

Ghostbusters stars Kristen Wiig and Chris Hemsworth and slimes onto screens July 15th.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Tammy (2014)

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Director: Ben Falcone

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Toni Collette, Sandra Oh, Nat Faxon, Dan Aykroyd, Kathy Bates

Screenplay: Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone

97 mins. Rated R for language including sexual references.

 

Melissa McCarthy (TV’s Gilmore Girls, St. Vincent) has the acting chops for both comedy and drama, yet she chooses to write comedies that just aren’t very good. Thus is the case with Tammy, her newest effort from husband-director Ben Falcone.

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In Tammy, McCarthy plays a down-on-her-luck food server who has just lost a car and a job and now decides to just leave town with her elderly grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise, The Big Wedding). I know, it doesn’t make much sense. Along the way, she meets Bobby (Mark Duplass, TV’s The League, Mercy) and his father Earl (Gary Cole, Pineapple Express, The Town That Dreaded Sundown) who both take a shine to ladies. Somehow. There isn’t a whole lot of chemistry, but apparently they do. They also meet up with lesbian lovers Lenore (Kathy Bates, TV’s American Horror Story, Titanic) and Susanne (Sandra Oh, TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, Rabbit Hole) who are also related to Tammy but it doesn’t seem that way. Again, I must say that it isn’t a good plot.

Essentially, this story was terrible. These characters were flat and unlikable. Melissa McCarthy isn’t funny. Susan Sarandon is disappointing. Also, the ages kind of mess with you. How is Susan Sarandon the mother of Allison Janney (TV’s The West Wing, Get On Up) who is also the mother of Melissa McCarthy? Seriously, how?

Then there is the terrible chemistry or lack thereof with Mark Duplass. I mean, c’mon, there wasn’t a single moment when I believed these two.

Let’s not forget the misuse of Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, The Boxtrolls). That’s right, she is in this movie, but look fast or you’ll miss it. The same is true with Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return).

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All in all, Ben Falcone’s absent directing of a bad screenplay between himself and wife McCarthy does nothing to make this movie anything more than a turd. Yes, I said it, a turd.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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