It’s not unnecessary, with its expanded universe, deeper themes, and bevy of fun new (or just newly developed–badass Han Solo-esque Bo is great) characters, but it does feel a little detached from its three predecessors with no strong central plot thread or thematic thrust and the usual gang sadly neglected (which makes the emotional climax a little underwhelming). Slightly unmet expectations aside, it’s still very fun (the action set pieces are great), very funny, and very well-animated.
A little unevenly constructed at points, and at others a bit too on the nose (horn?), but like quirky Kit and her krafty kaboodle, it’s mostly just wonderfully, colourfully odd, humourous, and heartwarming (see the fantastic vac presentation with her adorable two sidekicks), with an interesting ending that adds some nuance to the creativity/individuality/child-like-ness vs. conformity/uniformity/grown-up-ness theme throughout. Larson and Athie have lovely chemistry and the music’s great too.
There’s lots of good comedy here–from the celebrity satire and cameo-littered mockumentary framework to the outlandish songs and dim-witted lead–but it does start to wear thin even within the short run-time, and the predictable plot (props for the spoof of the “choosing what really matters” moment with the stage manager though) doesn’t do much to fill in the gaps. Still, a serviceable comedy that gets laughs, even if it’s just from pure ridiculousness (see the wolf attack/marriage proposal).
A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college. (IMDb)
While at times making it feel a little tangential and light, ultimately the broad multi-perspective narrative approach to telling this love story gives it an organic vibe while putting fresh spins on typical romance plot points (the pre-ending break-up had a unique cause) and throwing in new ones too (see Diane’s dad twist). Memorable dialogue with a flair for the poetic (see Lloyd’s monologue in the car, the final airplane scene), and artful edits (see Lloyd with the boys) give it extra juice.
When Woody is stolen by a toy collector, Buzz and his friends vow to rescue him, but Woody finds the idea of immortality in a museum tempting. (IMDb)
The big city setting makes for one fun adventure after another (the toy store is a highlight), leading from a cleverly edited dual-narrative to a fantastic climax airport climax. The small-toy-in-big-world ingenuity, combined with the excellent banter (the voice-work is top notch once again) and even nods to classic films (“I am your father!”) makes every scene a delight. A touching mid-movie montage on the reality of toy-life and brilliant end-credits “bloopers” elevate this to yet another level.
The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it’s up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren’t abandoned and to return home. (IMDb)
Seems to tread on some familiar ground with the Andy-obsessed Woody instigating another “get back home” adventure plot, but its central journey (this time a fantastically elaborate prison break) is more enjoyable and creative than ever and thoughtful new themes of toy aging and retirement are introduced. The daycare setting feels a little unrealistic (the toys rarely seem to think about human contact) but it does bring some great new characters (see flaky Ken) to the usual hilarious mix.
A reporter is assigned to write a story about a woman who has left a string of fiances at the altar. (IMDb)
A startlingly beautiful U2-backed opening scene is one of many unexpected elements in this fairly fresh rom-com fare: Gere’s mischievous Ike and the small town supporting cast bring a good amount of quirk to the dialogue and plot, Roberts’ “runaway bride” character is set up with surprising amount of intrigue and study (the reporter bit helps), even if it doesn’t fully live up to it in the end, and although you can see the conclusion coming a mile away, it doesn’t come when you think it will.
A man begins to suspect his neighbors are not what they appear to be and their secrets could be deadly. (IMDb)
Although it could have built its intensity more gradually, Arlington Road at least does well at maintaining it right up until its refreshingly devastating (if a tad far-fetched) climax, thanks to Bridges’ crazed, slightly over-the-top lead turn and the heavy socio-political content from his lectures that fills in the gaps between the thrilling scenes of his paranoid detective work, his chilling interactions with the subtly creepy Robbins and Cusack, and the final high-octane action sequences.