Toy Story 4 keeps the fantastic standards high while answering the fans' biggest question
The toys are back in town.
Creating the perfect trilogy - or something that's close to perfection - is almost impossible.
The Godfather Part III, Scream 3, Blade: Trinity, Spider-Man 3 (the emo Toby Maguire will haunt us forever). They're all films that spoiled the momentum and goodwill that audiences had for the franchises, however, there are also cases when three is the magic number.
The Lord of the Rings did it. All of the Back to the Future films are still loads of fun. The original Star Wars trilogy (if you're refusing to acknowledge the other entries) are fantastic.
The perfect trilogy is hard to come by and even when filmmakers get damn close, there's always the temptation to milk that cash cow for all that it's worth.
Die Hard 4.0, Jason Bourne, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are all examples of this.
On this note, Toy Story 4 arrives in Irish cinemas on 21 June but to many people, the big question is obvious. How can you top perfection?
Aside from being loved by critics, lucrative at the box-office, and adored by different generations of film fans, there's an argument to be made that Toy Story 3 was one of the most emotional, logical, and well-rounded final chapters in cinematic history.
All three films, produced on a total budget of $320 million, have grossed more than $1.9 billion worldwide. The first and second films got a perfect 100%, and the third a 98% rating, on Rotten Tomatoes.
After Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang escaped the fiery doom of the incinerator in Toy Story 3, Andy went off to college and the toys all found a new owner.
A perfect ending for a perfect trilogy.
However, never underestimate the nostalgic appeal of a franchise and it's understandable if fans are thinking that the fourth Toy Story film is just a cynical cash grab.
We're delighted to report that it's not.
Without giving too much away, we're introduced to the whole gang as they're getting to know their new owner, Bonnie, on her first week of play school.
Rather than play with an iPad or opt for some sleek new toy, Bonnie does what all kids do when they've got free time, she creates something with her imagination and her hands.
Toy Story 4 goes for the old fashioned approach by introducing the new character of Forky (voiced brilliantly by Arrested Development's Tony Hale) who quickly becomes Bonnie's new favourite toy.
Finding comfort and ease with her new creation, Bonnie needs Forky to help her with this new transition at school - he's sort of like a comfort blanket - and being the 'older toy' in the group, Sheriff Woody takes it upon himself to look after Forky and in turn, Bonnie.
However, a road trip will put Woody's parenting skills to the test as Forky escapes and Woody goes to save him, becoming separated from the group near a small town.
Make no mistake about it, this is Woody and Tom Hanks' film because he commands a fair chunk of the screentime. Yes, we still get moments of Buzz Lightyear's bravado and every other toy makes a contribution, but their story is eschewed because the film adopts a sort of father-son road trip dynamic.
We're not going to spoil all the fun but this is a Toy Story film that was made for audiences that saw the original in the cinemas back in 1995.
It's essentially about what it means to be a parent, letting your children grow up, and moving on with the next stage of your life - all seen through the prism of a toy.
To be honest, that's the natural progression of the story because the kids that grew up with Toy Story in the '90s are now having kids of their own.
In terms of the new toys, Keanu Reeves' Canadian stuntman, Duke Caboom, is an absolute joy with his unique mix of friendliness, one-liners, and weird PTSD. However, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele's double act - a stuffed bunny and duck that are stitched at the hand - can lay claim to having the darkest and funniest gag in the whole saga.
Trust us, it's an absolute riot.
Like all previous Toy Story films, the latest entry is funny, moving, and it has something to say.
However, unlike the other entries, it also a big question to answer.
Thankfully, we're delighted to say that Toy Story 4 doesn't feel like a cynical grab to make money and it doesn't tarnish the reputation of what preceded it.
From that perspective, the toys have done good.
Toy Story 4 is released in Irish cinemas on 21 June.
Clip via Pixar