toy-story-01I first saw Toy Story 3 when it came out in 2010. It was kinda emotional because I had grown up with the series, but it was also very entertaining on its own. I practically had to will myself not to cry as Andy played with the toys one last time…

Upon revisiting the Toy Story series a few weeks ago, I was able to look past the shiny graphics and noticed something deeper:

The main characters are all dealing with issues of identity and inherent value.

Toys having identity crises? Here are a few examples:

  • Woody’s identity as Andy’s favorite is threatened with the arrival of Buzz in Toy Story.
  • In that same movie, Buzz has an identity crisis when he learns that he is a “child’s play thing” and not a Space Ranger. And by crisis, I mean he becomes Mrs. Nesbit.
  • In Toy Story 2, Woody discovers who he is as a part of culture and must choose who he wants to be: a museum piece or Andy’s toy.
  • And in Toy Story 3, the toys wrestle with their identity when Andy stops playing with them – if they aren’t played with, then are they even toys?

Toys like Woody and Buzz have their value tied to their identity.

When they aren’t sure about their value, their identity wavers. When they aren’t sure about their identity, they think they don’t have any value. And the cycle continues.

By the time Toy Story 3 rolls around, though, Woody has already learned his lesson. He knows who he is – a toy – and although it makes him sad, he’s grateful to have served Andy for so long. Now, he gets to serve another kid, and he’ll be doing just that for the rest of his life.

Toy Story 3 is a chance for all the other toys to come to grips with something that Woody’s been struggling with for years.

The villain, unfortunately, never gets that chance. He’s stripped of his identity as a toy and is tied to the front of a truck, where he will eventually crumble into pieces and die.

It’s a sad end for a character who was going through the same struggles as Woody and his friends.

The Verdict

Knowing who you are and what you’re worth is super important because it can shape your life, for better or for worse.

I love seeing deeper topics explored in kids movies, because it creates an accessible environment to wrestle with questions and ideas.

Toy Story 3 was no exception, and I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it a few weeks ago.