I’m going to make a bold statement and this isn’t a joke: Toy Story is one of the best trilogies ever made. In my opinion it’s the second best trilogy of all time (Star Wars gets top spot). Sure on the surface it’s a fun kids movie but if you look deeper it’s actually a gripping trilogy that deals with much more mature themes. Themes like mortality and learning how to deal with broken dreams.
Let’s deal with the broken dreams aspect, which I think is what the first Toy Story is about. The film deals with this theme from two perspectives, each coming from the viewpoint of the two leads – Woody and Buzz. Woody’s superiority as Andy’s favourite toy has never been challenged. All the other toys are freaking out about the prospect of Andy replacing them with better toys from his birthday while Woody is barely breaking a sweat. Woody does eventually get replaced by buzz and he has to deal with the fact that he’s lost his place in Andy’s life. Now I think we can all relate to this because we’ve all being the most important thing in somebody’s life at a stage. Whether it be our parents, the people we date or marry, our children or even just our friends. We’ve all experienced that feeling of being ‘king of the castle’ and then getting replaced by something or someone shiny and new.
Staying with the theme of broken dreams, Buzz also experiences this in the first movie. He has to deal with the fact that he is actually a toy and not a Space Ranger as he believes himself to be. It’s a jarring experience for him because it’s the destruction of his entire reality. That scene where he tries to fly out the window and then falls and breaks his arm is one of the most touching scenes I’ve ever seen. Coupled with Randy Newman’s amazing “I will go sailing anymore”, that scene is absolutely heartbreaking. It reminds you of your own failure and how, no matter how hard you persevere, certain things are always going to be out of your reach.
Now Toy Story 2 deals with theme of mortality with absolute class. Where Toy Story was really about accepting that things will change; Toy Story 2 is about accepting that the fact that things will end. Woody (similar to Buzz in the first movie) has to accept that he is a toy and, more importantly, that toys aren’t played with forever. Woody has to face his own mortality and decide how he wants to journey to it. Does he go back to Andy and soak up the remaining years of joy before Andy stops playing for him for good; or does he choose to live forever in a plastic display? It’s a great introspective question. Another great part of the movie is when we learn Jessie’s backstory and how her owner dumped her in a box on the side of the road. I think this resonated with a lot of people because it reminded us how we all discard our toys and effectively throw away the thing that was our first real best friend growing up.
Toy Story 3 really expands on the previously mentioned two themes. The toys have to deal the moment they’ve been dreading, the realisation that Andy isn’t going to play with them forever and that they’re going to essentially ‘die’. In this movie we see how toys don’t allows deal with this realisation in the best of ways and will do whatever it takes to survive. Lotso bear who is technically the villain in this movie shows off such great heart and you really connect with his pain and understand him as a character. In the end, the toys find ‘life after death’ when Andy donates them to a younger owner so they can be played with again. It’s a great way to cap off the trilogy.
So if the Toy Story trilogy is so great, why do we need another movie? Well I’ve always liked the way that John Lasseter and Pixar go about making movies. It never feels like they make movies just for a money-grab but instead they do it because they have stories to tell and I think Toy Story is a story worth telling. Apparently Toy Story 4 is apparently going to be a romantic comedy of sorts and I’d love to see that. With every addition to the franchise, Pixar takes a step further into the world of the toys. First it was the fear of their replacement, then the acceptance of their impeding mortality and then lastly their acceptance of their mortality and realising that there is life after death. So I think there’s so much more that can be explored in the world of toys and that a love story would be great to see.
They’ve done so much with the story of Toy Story that I can’t wait to see what the new installment holds. Honestly, its one of my favourite trilogies and the original will always hold a special place in my heart. Bring on the next!