Matt and Nick debate the very idea of a Toy Story sequel
When a rumor of a Colombian Toy Story 4 confirmation went up a few days ago, there was an odd amount of division between the Flixist editors. Some editors (me) were in favor of a Toy Story sequel, while other editors (Matthew Razak, who's also completely wrong) though Toy Story 3 ended so gracefully that it should be messed with. This divide between Matt and I eventually spurned on a deadly healthy argument between the two of us.
Before it eventually devolved into name calling (me) and tantrums (again, me), we brought up some good points and decided to share them here with you all. Hopefully this starts a community wide debate on this subject. So without further delay, let's get it on!
Nick Valdez: Toy Story is my favorite Pixar series for a reason. I love the world, I love the characters, and the underlying themes of the trilogy still resonate with me. With that being said, a fourth entry is a great idea. Now I'm usually not the first to say " more movies using [insert precious childhood memory here]," (for reference, I originally rejected Fast and Furious, but that turned out splendidly) but I still think Toy Story has more of a "story" that deserves telling. And that's more than I could say about Pixar's other franchises.
Matthew Razak: I'm not sure how you can call 3's ending open. There was a clear story arc here and it blatantly concluded in the third film. Not only did it blatantly conclude it perfectly concluded. Extending this out further ruins what was already a perfect ending. One of the wonderful things about most Pixar films is they never feel like they're being made just to be made. After the ending of the third Toy Story, this Toy Story automatically feels like it's just being made to be made.
Nick Valdez: I call it open ended for one reason: Bonnie. Toy Story has always been about accepting the future and the change it brings. The first film was about Woody accepting new friends (as Science Fiction "The Future" overtakes Westerns "The Past"), Toy Story 2 was about a desperate grab for nostalgia (Prospector literally wanted to be frozen in time), and the third film was about letting go of the past and respectably moving forward. While I'll agree that TS3's ending was sublime, it was even better at keeping hope alive.
Thematically, Bonnie represents the new generation of children realizing how great Toy Story's characters are (In fact, TS3 is my five year old cousin's introduction to the franchise). As we watched Andy slowly grow up into adulthood, a lot of us grew up with him. Andy becomes a physical manifestation of ourselves, and when he passes on his toys to Bonnie, we pass on the characters, the Toy Story world, to a new generation of kids who deserve a TS film to call their own.
Matthew Razak: Those kids have three amazing movies to grow up with already. If you want to tell a new story then tell a new story with new characters. It's not like Pixar is bad at doing this stuff. How many times are Buzz and Woody going to have issues or get lost or have to find their way home. This cast of characters is amazing, and I'd be fine with them showing up in fun shorts, but Pixar's attentions could be spent developing a whole new universe for this new generation to fall in love with. Sequels for the simple fact that the characters are popular, which this definitely feels like, aren't what Pixar needs to be doing. At some point a cast of characters needs to be set aside before they start to wear out their welcome.
Nick Valdez: Now this is probably the "least legitimate" of my rebuttals, but I see Part 4 working as a reboot of sorts. I'd say introduce a new central character and conflict, while still allowing past characters to influence the story (but not take it over completely), and naturally move forward as a new story that continues to flesh out TS's universe while gradually stepping away from past episodes. Just a suggestion, but maybe Pixar can expand on the feeling of loss that lingered in the third film. As toys becomes less and less relevant in our current world, it'd be interesting how a new toy would survive. Or something. Look, the good folks at Pixar are smarter than I am about that stuff, so I'm sure they could do better. The point is, I want to explore this universe even more as it seems there are stories left to be told. Playtime never ends, so neither should the series.
Matthew Razak: Now we're talking spin-offs. I have amazing faith in Pixar (more so than any other studio), but spin-offs mean the death of anything. When they look back and discuss where it really started going downhill for anything it's always around the time that a franchise starts to focus on other characters. The idea of toys coming to life isn't new, it's the characters and story that make Toy Story work so well. Veering off into some other storyline is fine and all, but it hardly ever works. You may ask why they shouldn't just try, and I bring you back to the fact that the story already concluded too perfectly. All your doing now is hammering nails in a coffin that was already buried.
The question also becomes where do you stop. I'm sure Disney would have them make 50 more, and pushing to a fourth (especially with new characters) signals that they're totally willing to do that. I was wary about Pixar making so many sequels already and I think Cars 2 proved that everything they touch isn't gold. They're so good at crafting original stories that it seems a waste to churn out a fourth in the Toy Story series.
Nick Valdez: I can see your point, but that wariness has been around since Toy Story 2 was announced. Toy Story itself was so beautifully told that felt like it ended also. When Toy Story 2 was announced (with brand new characters I might add) that doubt initially faded when TS2 turned out great. And when TS3 was announced? There was an even greater fallout, but that eventually subsided when we realized we can put our faith in Pixar. The same thing is happening here. We all know TS4 is going to be great because the material is there. Cars 2 flopped because it tried to make something out of nothing. And Planes? F**k Planes.
Now to figure out where it should stop. I most certainly think it should end after a fourth as even I have limits. And it's not liking working on 4 is going to take away from their originals. Look at Monsters University, it's branching off a story they've told already but they still have time to work on The Good Dinosaur, that Dia de Los Muertos film, and that one about the mind. With their invigorates production schedule (and money), why not squeeze in another Toy Story?
I mean, they're making Planes!
Matthew Razak: Defending a bad idea by pointing to a worse idea doesn't actually make the bad idea any better. Yes, they're making Planes, but they shouldn't be. Just because you have the money doesn't mean you should use it on things that seem pretty geared towards simply making more. It's hard to point Pixar as an evil movie studio just gong for a quick buck, because they aren't, but a fourth installment is really just about that for the simple fact that it doesn't need to be made.
Let's say the fourth one turns out good, that still doesn't mean it should have been made. There's something to be said for knowing when to end a story and the perfect endings is when you should end a story. Toy Story has had that perfect ending and adding to it, even if you add something good, cheapens that ending. With a fourth film we're taking something that has been made whole already and making it more whole. You can't do that. You're basically just handing someone a nice full glass of water and then pouring more water in. That waters not useful, it's just making a mess of your glass of water as it spills all over the place. Why have more of something that doesn't need more in it?
Nick Valdez: Damn it Matt, your analogy was way too good. I honestly want to keep arguing that they should make more, but as the logic sinks in, I can predict my arguments will devolve more and more into blind fandom (until I eventually put my fingers in my ears and scream "LA LA LA NOT LISTENING LA LA LA LA").
I'm just going to concede on my end with one final push. I honestly just want more Toy Stor(ies) because I love them. Sure 3's ending was great (but I still argue that the open ending and passing the torch left me personally wanting), but we all know we're getting more of them whether we want them or not. Given Pixar's recent property mining, we could do a looooot worse (Up sequel? Didn't think so. That's an even better example of a perfect ending that shouldn't be ruined).
This argument may seem tonally defensive (and even less legitimate than the previous one) but even if the fourth releases, it doesn't necessarily mean that the other three are going anywhere. TS has never been a franchise hinged on continuity restraint and it's broad themes lend themselves to an even wider range of stories, so it's not like another venture would ruin the franchise or the original trilogy's ending.
In closing, why don't we enjoy playtime one more time? I have at least or more in me (and still have a snake in my boots) and I'm sure Pixar does too.
And that's all, folks! Did you enjoy our little argument? Don't worry about Matt and I though. Like Woody and Buzz, we're the best of friends now! Disagree with Matt or myself and have an opinion of your own? Why don't you share it below in the comments or wage war in the forums!