IT was the perfect ending to the perfect trilogy. 15 years in the cooking and as even a bake as they come. To make one classic is hard; to produce an equally joyous sequel is rare; to round things off with a supreme third almost never happens. Pixar did it with Toy Story 1-3. Why on Earth are they tempting fate with a fourth?

Not all franchises die with their fourth entry of course. Jurassic World substantially improved on its direct predecessors, whilst Mad Max: Fury Road is an acclaimed six-time Oscar winner. That said, the fourth big screen instalments in the Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Superman series are best long forgotten.

Praise be, Toy Story 4 is a hit. A beautiful, heartfelt, hilarious hit. I confess to doubting this in the run up to the film’s release - Toy Story 3 had felt so complete a conclusion - but I am only human. What’s transparent now is that the folks at Pixar simply are not.

The film opens with Woody (Tom Hanks) and co. still in the home of Bonnie, the little girl gifted Andy’s toys last time around. When Bonnie brings home a new toy from school, the gang are quick to welcome him into the fold. Only, this toy isn’t like the others. Forky is a homemade creation, an arts and crafts composite of plastic fork and pipe cleaners, suffering an existential crisis. Ill-equipped for life in the play pen, Forky flees but soon finds Woody hot on his heels.

Structurally, it would be fair to say that Toy Story 4 isn’t so far removed from those before. There’s separation, a villain - Christina Hendricks’ voiced Gabby Gabby - and a mission to get back home. Emotionally, however, don’t expect exact replication. Toy Story 4 proffers a franchise matured. Having been absent in Toy Story 3, Woody’s once love interest Bo Peep (Annie Potts) returns and brings with her new perspectives.

Toy Story 4 is as wonderfully imaginative as one would hope. It’s also very funny. Keanu Reeves delights as Canadian daredevil Duke Caboom, whilst there’s witty work too by Keegan-Michael Kay and Jordan Peele playing plush toys Ducky and Bunny. At times, some of the old timers - Buzz and Jessie among them - feel oddly relegated, but, when push comes to shove, this has always been Woody’s story.