One of my favorite things in the world is when a movie is released the weekend of my birthday. It’s like a birthday present from a major movie studio! My favorite childhood movie, “Finding Nemo,” had a sequel come out on my birthday weekend, and I was over the moon.

This year, “Toy Story 4” came out on my birthday, and I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate. But instead of the major excitement and childhood dreams fulfilled that came with “Finding Dory,” I was only mildly entertained and mostly disappointed.

“Toy Story 3” came out nine years ago, and it was critically acclaimed. My family and I all loved it, and thought it was a perfect way to end the successful “Toy Story” franchise. So you can imagine our confusion when this latest movie was announced. Why add on to what was already wrapped up so well?

If I look at “Toy Story 4” on its own, not connected to the rest of the franchise, it’s fine. It’s a perfectly good kids movie. But in terms of its predecessors, it’s extremely lackluster. I would’ve liked it better if it was part of a spinoff series, even. Like the “Air Bud” movies taking on the “Air Buddies” franchise. Loosely connected to their parent franchise, but a series on its own — that kind of scenario and some added tweaks would’ve made “Toy Story 4” much more palatable to me.

We all know that Hollywood loves one thing more than anything else: money. But it’s still a disappointment to see it exercised in such an obvious way. In all honesty, a lot of the aspects of this movie can be seen as just plain lazy.

The best comic relief throughout the movie is the new spork character of Forky, and even that was easily executed humor. His character curve is barely even a curve, and I felt Forky didn’t affect the plot that much.

The subplot of the doll Gabby Gabby and her broken voice box was unnecessary, especially with the way it ends, considering how dramatic they make the issue of the broken voice box.

The biggest disappointment to me, however, was the plot. Over the past several years, Disney movies have had plot twists that are hard to predict. It’s never the ending you want, but an ending you’re satisfied with. “Toy Story 4” doesn’t have a single plot twist I was surprised by, and some foreshadowing allowed me to predict the ending way before it came.

The franchise didn’t need to be continued. It was wrapped up so well in “Toy Story 3” that the addition of this new movie weakens the entire series. A lot of the original characters from the series were left out this time, since their stories were already concluded in the third movie. I hope Disney doesn’t continue further with these characters, but I’m sure the studio will, considering the financial and critical success this new one has seen. I’m sure Disney will try to capitalize on as many sequels as it can, as there are obvious potential storylines left at the end of the movie.

That being said, I did find two positive aspects from this film. The inclusion of Bo Peep is a nice addition to the story, especially with her strong character arc. In the previous movies she didn’t serve much purpose besides being a love interest for Woody. But in this movie, she is her own character and has a much more likable personality. Plus the inclusion of a strong female lead is a step in the right direction.

But, by far, the best part of this movie is the animation. It’s astonishing when you compare the visual details of this movie against the first one from 1995. The movement and dimension of what’s seen in “Toy Story 4” is so accurate, at times seeming better than my own eyesight.

Is “Toy Story 4” inherently awful? Not at all, and I’ve seen plenty of movies worse than this. This is cute for a kids’ movie, and it hits all the marks for its intended demographic.

But when children are the main demographic, Hollywood tends to forget where to stop, and focuses on the potential for money, merchandise, and exploiting the dedicated fans children tend to be. In doing so, Disney forgets that the first “Toy Story” came out over 20 years ago, and a lot of the now-older original fans would be disappointed with this latest addition.

I can only hope they end it here. Overall, I give “Toy Story 4” a fitting 4 out of 10.

Karlee Van De Venter is a 2019 graduate of Eisenhower High School.