By Skylar Bell Brenner, Entertainment Editor
If you have not yet seen Toy Story 4, read no further, as this article contains spoilers.
The Toy Story franchise has been around longer than I have been alive, beginning in 1995 with the original Toy Story. I grew up watching these movies, being heavily influenced by the themes of loyalty, friendship and finding your true identity and purpose.
As a child, I was fully convinced my toys had their own lives beyond being my toys. Even as I grew out of this childish belief, I still held onto the importance of good friendships, which is communicated in the first three movies. Call me fallacious but claiming to not like Toy Story is like admitting to hating your friends.
Clearly, I am deeply invested in these films, so it was only natural that I had to see Toy Story 4 as soon as it came out. In order to recreate as much nostalgia as possible, I had to see it at the local drive-in, which I grew up doing. I had a lot riding on this experience. This was the moment I would find closure for my childhood.
In the first three films in the collection, the story line centers around Woody and Buzz finding their way back to their kids and fulfilling their purpose of making them happy.
Toy Story 4 successfully undermined all of the themes and character development created in the first three films. It was like watching a parent take away a child’s pet hamster and flush it down the toilet, saying, “Welcome to the real world, son. Life sucks.”
To start, the humans are barely involved, and the plot is tightly focused on the toys. If you read parent reviews of the film, you’ll discover many of them did not enjoy this movie as much as the past films because it hardly has the family aspect and themes of loyalty and friendship.
At the end of the movie, Woody abandons his family and friends that have developed over the past three movies. Basically, the movie emphasizes that following your inner voice is more important than remaining true and loyal to those who love you.
This movie was littered with individualistic ideology, trying to prove how enlightened Bo Peep had become for not belonging to a child and how Woody was trapped in the old mindset believing his purpose was to belong to a child. The famous song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” emphasized the idea in past movies that toys are made for the children. In the fourth movie, it is clear that you do not have a friend in me.
This transition of being community and other-focused to becoming individualistically focused is demonstrated as Woody finds his purpose in being with others in the first few movies, but later decides to find his identity as an individual.
The saddest part about this movie is not how it ends with Woody abandoning his friends and family. Rather, it is the fact that this movie is a reflection of our culture today.
We have become increasingly individualized in our society. We see family as the people we simply grow up with for a short 18 years, then venture into the real world to become a free individual. Many of us find our purpose and identity in our own goals, desires and talents.
I believe this mindset is poison to the Christian. I believe that God is triune, therefore meaning that God is the ultimate example of perfect love as God lives in communion with Godself and exemplifies true love and perfect relationship. Since humanity was created in the image of the triune, relational, loving God, people find their purpose in loving and being in community with God and one another.
In American society, there is an obsession with defining one’s own identity. Perhaps the biggest problem with the overemphasis of defining ourselves is that a person becomes her own “mini-god”. In other words, in defining oneself, a person rejects her created nature in favor of her own self-definition. In Toy Story 4, Woody chose to define himself and his own identity, leaving his friends and family in order to do it, ultimately becoming his own mini-god.
With all that said, Toy Story 4 was still very entertaining, despite my grievances with the plot and abandonment of previous themes from past movies.