FCC 06: Christian Themes in “Toy Story”

Let’s catch up with Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang and seek out Christian themes in the debut Disney/Pixar feature-length film Toy Story.

Toy Story is “A Visionary Roller-Coaster Ride of a Movie.”

And I’m quoting Roger Ebert’s original four star review on that one.

In 1995, my little sister was just a year old, and we were either in the process of moving or just finished moving. So when Toy Story came out, I already had those subtle similarities with Andy.

However, as far as I was concerned, my toys didn’t come to life whenever I left the room.

Nobody’s toys came to life. Hence, when this movie came out for me, it was magical. Seeing Buzz and Woody travel a universe of Andy’s room, the minivan, the gas station, Pizza Planet, Sid’s room, and (most excitingly) a suburban street. All these different settings give the story an “epic” feel, which added to the magic.

Okay...we get it...magical...

Okay…we get it…magical…

But what made it gripping was the existential crisis that the toys experience.

From the moment the action leaves Andy’s room, Buzz and Woody question everything from who they are to which one Andy loves better to why Andy even loves them in the first place.

This causes the story to become, in a sense, a “coming of age” story. That is, Buzz and Woody become wiser at the end than they were in the beginning – (hopefully) like the rest of humanity at one point or another.

This existential crisis hits its peak in the torturous pits of Sid’s room, where we find Buzz duct-taped to The Big One and Woody held captive under a milk crate. Woody is accepting the fact that they may never return home, and Buzz is accepting the fact that he is just a toy.

But then they remember that the resolution to their crises has been with them all along: Andy’s name.

FCC - Toy Story 2

Wow! And in permanent ink!

As Buzz puts it earlier in the film, Andy has “inscribed” his name on them. No matter what, they belong to Andy.

This calls to mind one of the more calming passages in the Revelation. These are the words that Jesus tells John to write to the angel in charge of Philadelphia:

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. (Revelation 3:10-12)

Just as Andy has inscribed his name on Buzz and Woody, Jesus will do the same for those in His kingdom.

Of course, this all leads to a different philosophical question altogether:

If Andy is God, are we just toys?

Believe it or not, some people would agree with this notion: that we simply exist for the entertainment and dominion of any and all higher powers.

And this would be ludicrous…if the similarities between the Andy-Toys relationship and the God-Mankind relationship weren’t so plentiful:

  1. Andy and the toys exist on different levels.
  2. Because of that, the toys can never fully understand Andy.
  3. Therefore, the toys’ collective purpose is fulfilled through Andy’s playing with them.

Don’t believe me on that last part? Woody even says it himself at the staff meeting:

FCC - Toy Story 1

It’s doesn’t matter how much we’re played with. What matters is that we’re here for Andy when he needs us. That’s what we’re made for, right?

But here’s the difference: while the toys cannot have a close relationship with Andy, mankind can have a close relationship with God – in fact, that’s what He’s always wanted. Seriously, our God wants relationship.

Just as Jesus prays in the garden before he is arrested:

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you – the only true God – and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:1-3)

This is Jesus’s hope for everyone separated from God – or, you know, everyone: that we get back to Him and that we get to know Him.

And how awesome is that?

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Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is a graduate student pursuing his Master in Theatre Arts degree with Regent University. He is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. You can find him live-tweeting his favorite movies on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever or posting poetry and unsolicited opinions at thebookofbrenden.com
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