A Trip Down Memory Lane w/ "Toy Story"
Having just seen the recent Toy Story 4, I figured a marathon on an old classic was well overdue and thus, embarked on this trip down memory lane. So, welcome to that trip and state of realization or remembrance, as to why Disney and Pixar classics like Toy Story are always worth the re-watch as an adult.
In troubling times such as these, a familial favourite on the topic of loyalty, the strength of true friendship, topped with a total sense of adventure is something I think we all need nowadays, and Toy Story delivers on all fronts. The first Toy Story is an insider point of view on the life of children’s toys and in particular, the toys that belong to “Andy”. Protagonist “Woody” is Andy’s favourite toy, and when the two become separated Woody goes through extraordinary lengths to get back to him. Woody’s loyalty to Andy is unfaltering, and it’s because of this loyalty that Woody is always able to find his way back home – along with sheer courage, determination, coordination, and learning to accept and even ask for help when needed (a true life lesson most people often overlook, but really should remember!). My take-away on the topic of loyalty portrayed in almost any of the Toy Story’s, but in particular, the first one? To remember that loyalty to people who love, cherish and truly care for you the most can bring you to do just about anything, to overcome incredible odds, and is a driving force for what matters most and deepest in our hearts.
Regarding courage, determination, coordination, and working together with others, this is where the real adventure behind all four Toy Story’s take place! In a world run by humans, the secret life of a toy is already somewhat dangerous, but trying to make it back home after you’ve been lost on the street, mistakenly taken by another kid, or accidentally donated? How on earth could something so small overcome such big obstacles? Well, Woody makes sure to remind you that so long as you have the above mentioned skill set (or at least, have them for the most part), you can achieve anything! An even bigger takeaway though is that sometimes, not all goals can be reached on one’s own. And Woody – a Sheriff cowboy ragdoll, favourite to his owner, leader amongst all Andy’s toys and therefore quite proud and self-righteous – eventually realizing that is what makes you, the viewer, reflect on whether you should be asking for help more often when stuck or, how often you’re not accepting or asking for help from others, simply because of attributes like pride or ego.
Now I know you must be thinking, “How can a scene in a child’s animation film actually have me reflecting on how I live my life and the type of person I might be?” Because children’s animation films are created by adults, who experience and tackle the same hardships and/or events older viewers do. Plus, there's also the tone in Woody’s voice, his body language – once stood tall now slightly hunched and eventually, sat down – the lighting in the scene, the camera’s focus slowing zooming in on a somewhat sadden Woody, as he realizes he literally cannot escape Sid’s room without the help of “Buzz Lightyear” (Andy’s newest space action figure and therefore Woody’s new rival), and finally, the score. All these elements that present that state of realization of Woody, ultimately brings that same state of realization to the audience. As a matter of fact, it’s almost always these moments – where everything begins to feel too real and hits you right in the feels – that help remind an older audience that a “family favourite” animation film, and the lessons or takeaways they try and teach you as a child, still hold true no matter how old you’ve become. And perhaps most importantly, that you should think twice before writing-off animation films!
Lessons and trips down memory lane aside, as I said earlier Toy Story is an adventure story. Whether it’s accidentally being left behind at a gas station with your new arch nemesis Buzz, and having to work together to get back to Andy, discovering an alien land at “Pizza Planet”, being picked up by your neighbours kid who has a thing for warping, disfiguring and exploding his own toys, and to top it all off, trying to make it back before Andy and his family move house, Toy Story is full of suspense, crazy and even downright strange hurdles! And that’s just the general plot timeline of the first Toy Story. Each Toy Story that follows is ultimately an adventure story of their own – which don’t disappoint and keep you engaged beginning to end (which can be so hard to say these days about film series). And although each film has similar endings (the quest to get back home), the eventual turning point of deciding if going back home even is the best choice anymore, is the step above these films take, that make them “adult-friendly” as much as they are “child-friendly”. The films present you with tough questions, questions that make the toys and subsequently, the viewers really think, but pairing them with adventurous tales make the entire journey worthwhile, every time, and is exactly why the Toy Story films can still be cherished in perhaps a new light, as an adult!