If Toy Story 1 taught us one thing as kids, it’s that our toys had this rich inner life that revolved around being the best toys they could be for their kids. This created a weird hoarding issue for many families. Getting rid of a toy meant the toy itself would feel bad about it for the rest of their little lives, or until they get incinerated in Toy Story 3. (Too soon?)
Either by a writers innate sense of creating balance in a long arc story line, or perhaps a rapidly declining likelihood of Tom Hanks willingness to voice Woody for the eternities, Toy Story 4 had one lesson – the importance of letting go.
A character-by-character study
Let’s start with Forky. He’s a fork that Bonnie has glued eyes and feet to. He doesn’t want to be a toy, he knows he’s meant to be disposable and that his destiny is a trash can. He spends the first half of the movie trying to throw himself away. He desperately wants to be let go because he doesn’t understand his importance to Bonnie.
In contrast, we have Woody who believes the worst thing that could ever happen to him is for his kid to no longer want or need him. He knows exactly who he is and what his role is supposed to be. He’s now struggling to adapt to change as Bonnie grows up.
Little Bo Peep is in the same boat as Woody. However, instead of fighting the change and the loss of her role as one kid’s toy, she has embraced her new lifestyle of being a toy who no longer has a kid. She has become a Mad Max style renegade vigilante of the playgrounds and goes from from place to place finding a new kids to play with. Compared to Forky and Woody, she has found fulfillment and happiness in her new role.
And finally we need to talk about Gabby Gabby, Toy Story 4’s unique villain. She was a defective toy right out of the box. The core belief that has driven her for an untold number of years is if she can get fixed, she can finally be loved. When she discovers that Woody has the part she needs, she will do anything and to get it.
The important lesson in Toy Story 4
Every toy in this movie had something they wanted. Woody wanted to take care of Forky because that was the best way he could take care of his kid. Little Bo peep wanted adventure and freedom. And Forky wanted to fulfill his destiny of becoming trash.
In each of these cases the toys needed to learn a valuable lesson before they could let go and move forward. What he learned that it was OK to let his responsibility to go to the other toys and let someone else take charge. Bo peep learned to make the best of challenging circumstances and do what she really loved. And Forky, dear Forky, learned that his destiny was much greater than being thrown away because a kid loved him.
Each one of us has a little bit of these characters hiding inside us. Sometimes we take responsibility for things that we should really let go to other people. Sometimes we need to learn how how to make the best of challenging circumstances. And sometimes the hardest part is figuring out who we really are and what our true destiny is.
What are your thoughts about Toy Story Four? Are you a Woody, Forky, or Bo Peep?
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