Toy Story 4 (2019)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Toy Story 4 (2019) from Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios
Rated G. Animated, Comedy, Action, Family Film
Academy Award: Best Animated Feature Film

Description (from the film case): Pixar Animation Studios proudly presents the adventure of a lifetime! When Woody, Buzz and the gang join Bonnie on a road trip with her new craft-project-turned-toy, Forky, the innocent little spork’s hilarious antics launch Woody on a wild quest filled with unexpected new characters—and one long-lost friend!

My thoughts: “To infinity…” “…and beyond.”

I’ve been following the Toy Story story and characters for a quarter of a century. And I’ve been nervous every time a sequel has come out, as second and third movies can be notorious for taking a good thing downhill and making you wish folks would’ve just left the original awesomeness alone.

Could filmmakers maintain this particular awesomeness for a fourth whole movie? Well. Turns out, they’ve done just that.

I mean, I could go on in detail about the amazing detail of the art and animation, the wonderful character development, the hilarity (and downright creepiness, sometimes) and action and relatability of it all. But what may get me most is that the Toy Story movies are just that: a story. Not just a nice little amusing tale, but a story of depth and heart, of excitement and nostalgia. Imaginative and highly accessible genius coming to life onscreen—four movies in a row.

Outstanding!

Whether or not you’ve been here the whole quarter of a century, be sure to watch the movies in order, if you can.

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Hair Love (2019)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Hair Love (2019) from Sony Pictures Animation
Rated G. Animated, African American, Family Film
Academy Award: Best Animated Short Film

My thoughts: It’s simple really, but a lot—and plenty relatable for so many of us. It’s an Oscar-winning short family film about a father facing the daunting task of doing his daughter’s hair. But the story is more than that, of course.

Refreshing and clever, amusing and adorable, touching and real, this picture is. It’s no small feat for a film to manage to be everything in fewer than seven minutes.

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Haven’t seen Hair Love yet? Take a look!

 

Klaus (2019)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Klaus (2019) from The SPA Studios
Rated PG. Animated, Christmas, Comedy, Family Film

Description (from Netflix): A selfish postman and a reclusive toymaker form an unlikely friendship, delivering joy to a cold, dark town that desperately needs it.

My thoughts: I heard a little positive buzz via Twitter about the return of 2D animation for Christmas, and being the lover of holiday flicks that I am, I decided to check this movie out. It had an entertaining enough start for me, and I settled in to watch something with middling but adequately fun humor. You know, mild amusement wrapped in about an hour and a half of holiday spirit.

I had no idea I would eventually laugh out loud as much as I did, or that I’d wind up with tears running down my face at more than one point in the movie. And at the last moment of the last scene that punctuates it all, I threw my hands straight up in the air, feeling as oddly triumphant as I was thoroughly touched.

Yes, this movie is fun and funny, cute and Christmassy, but it’s also a rather brilliant work of storytelling, adding clever and imaginative details and twists to bring a legend to life, so that even though you already know what’s going to happen at times, the story as a whole is fresh and refreshing.

I wouldn’t expect everyone to wind up weeping as I did, but don’t prejudge or dismiss this as “just a kid’s cartoon” or “only a Christmas comedy.” It’s an entertaining and beautifully developed story of friendship and family, love and loss, discovery and growth, risk and adventure, reconciliation and redemption. It has to go on my list of all-time favorite Christmas movies.

And yes—I do dig the wonderful 2D animation!

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Downton Abbey (2019)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Downton Abbey (2019) from Focus Features, Carnival Film & Television
Rated PG. Drama, Historical/Period Film, Royalty, Romance

1/2

Description (from the film case of the television show, where so much happened): This is the epic tale of the Crawley family and their servants, set in the lavish surroundings of their ancestral home, Downton Abbey…bringing Downton Abbey from pre-war England through the storms of World War I and into the social upheaval of England in the 1920s as the lives of its inhabitants are shaped by romance and heartbreak, ambition and betrayal.

My thoughts on the film: It’s 1927, and the King and Queen of England are coming to Downton.

I don’t go to see movies in theaters much at all, but I went to see this the day after its US release. As The Silver Petticoat Review might say, I went to experience “movie magic.” In fact, I watched the entire television series (for the third or fourth time) in the weeks ahead of the film to prepare for it. And everything it needs to be, it is.

Yes, you do have to already love Downton to love this film as you should. You can still enjoy it without having all the background on the characters’ lives, but you’ll be at quite a disadvantage and will likely be able to tell as much on some level. It would be worth your while to go back and watch the television series afterward, if you’ve not seen it already!

The continuity from television to film is well done here, both where the plot and the characters are concerned, and it’s upbeat and satisfying overall without making every detail of every character’s life perfect. It was great hearing all the music again, too. Downton’s theme, the Mary/Matthew theme, the Tom/Sybil theme—and don’t get me started on the exquisite costumes.

Whenever I rewatch the series now, I’ll be sure to include this in the cycle.

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A tiny “sneak peek” featurette…