[Originally published on TheCelebrityCafe.com]
Pixar announced earlier this week that Toy Story 4 is in production, and it was some pretty shocking news. The studio has previously said they would be dialing back on sequels, and because Toy Story 3 so obviously seemed like the end of the series, I don’t think anyone was seriously expecting this would happen.
The Toy Story movies are three of my favorite films of all time, but Toy Story 4 is an incredibly bad idea and needs to be stopped.
Okay, first let’s be a little positive here. While movie sequels are often pretty disappointing, Pixar has proven us wrong with sequels before. Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 got consistently better in my eyes, and the series is one of the few out there which improves with every movie. Not so long ago, making Toy Story 3 seemed like it could be a disaster, and it sounded like it could be a cash grab capitalizing on a property that should have been left alone.
But we all know how Toy Story 3 turned out, and it ended up being one of the best sequels ever made. John Lasseter will be returning to direct Toy Story 4 after directing the first two films, and he claims that Pixar wouldn’t be making the movie if they didn’t have a really good idea for a story.
Despite all this though, it’s hard to feel optimistic about the future of Toy Story for a few reasons.
It ruins the finality of Toy Story 3:
First, let’s talk about the ending of Toy Story 3. That movie was all about finality and about moving on. In the incredible climatic scene, Andy plays with his toys for one last time and drives away into an unknown future. It’s an ending that plays on our own need to let go of our childhood. Plus, part of why it’s so emotional is that kids who grew up with these movies are saying goodbye to a chapter of their lives. It’s as if the Toy Story movies represent our childhood, and Toy Story 3 allows us to say goodbye to it one last time.
But what’s so incredibly important to this scene is the fact that it really is the last time we’re going to see these characters. Sure, there’s been the TV specials, but knowing that Toy Story 3 is the end of the film trilogy adds so much emotion and this incredible sense of finality as we realize this is it. This really is the end. There is something special about getting to the end of the story and knowing that there is no sequel. It’s the end of the line, and this is goodbye.
That is completely undermined by there being a fourth Toy Story. Imagine re-watching these movies in the future and getting to the end of Toy Story 3 knowing there’s another sequel after it. Sure, the movie will still be great and probably still emotional, but completely missing will be the sense of saying goodbye to Buzz, Woody and the gang, because all we have to do is pop in the Toy Story 4 DVD to see the movie pick up right where it left off.
What else is there to say?
Secondly, what else is there really to say about Toy Story? Looking back, it seems obvious why Toy Story 3 needed to exist, even if we were skeptical at the time. The first two movies play on the toys’ fear of being abandoned by Andy. Toy Story 2 comes to some sort of conclusion about that, implying that the toys will be okay as long as they have each other. But Toy Story 3 was necessary to provide closure to that idea, confronting the toys with the reality of Andy abandoning them and seeing how they deal with that.
However, is there any concept in the trilogy that wasn’t completely wrapped up in Toy Story 3? What else is there? The last film tied together every theme the films have ever dealt with, and the movies now form this cohesive storyline of a group of characters all sharing this common fear of being left behind. The conflict of the movies is that fear of abandonment, and now that conflict is over. What more is there to say?
What will probably have to happen, then, is that Toy Story 4 will be about something completely different, because it would be incredibly awkward to just explore the same themes of the original trilogy again, but this time with a different kid.
So either way, Toy Story 4 would probably either rehash the same thing we already dealt with, or throw off the great cohesiveness of the original trilogy by adding some unnecessary new conflict to a storyline that has already wrapped itself up.
We need more original Pixar movies
Finally, focusing more on Pixar in general now, the studio really needs to move away from sequels. What used to be so great about their movies was how original they were in a sea of sometimes pretty unoriginal, generic kids movies. Toy Story 2 was the exception, but typically every Pixar movie that came out was completely new and unique, with concepts that blew us away and were unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Now we’ll soon be in a situation where we have sequels to Monsters Inc, Cars, Toy Story, Finding Nemoand The Incredibles, with the last three coming out within a pretty short period of time. What used to make Pixar distinct from a company was like Dreamworks was that they didn’t just give us constant sequels to their franchises. Now, they do pretty much the same thing.
Wouldn’t you just rather see a completely new idea than more of the same, really? Next year, Pixar has a movie coming out called Inside Out. It’s a completely fresh concept about the emotions inside a girl’s brain and how they affect her actions. It sounds amazing, and I personally would much rather see another unique new movie like Inside Out than yet another Toy Storymovie.
I really don’t want to be cynical, and nothing would make me happier than for Pixar to prove me wrong with Toy Story 4. I’m open to hearing what John Lasseter says is a great concept, and it’s not like the studio has never pleasantly surprised us before.
Still, Toy Story 4 really shouldn’t happen. Its very existence ruins part of the impact of Toy Story 3, and it’s unnecessary because all the major themes of the series have been wrapped up. Pixar needs to get back in the game of cranking out unique new movies, not more of the same that could actively ruin the impact of what came before.