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Why “Toy Story 4” Is not a Kid’s Film

“Cars 2” was universally panned for its weird torture scene, and while I found it the best of the Cars series, most people didn’t appreciate the adult themes in a child’s movie. “Toy Story 4” doesn’t have the torture scene though it does have a half toy and a scene of involving dummies trying to rip Woody’s voice box from him. As for adult themes, “Toy Story 4” runs circles around Lightning McQueen and friends, and they make the film deep and darkly depressing. There are scores of Easter Eggs for the Pixar fan, including “Lifted” and Dinoco.

Spoilers after the trailer.

The first part of the film contains elements from previous films. A flashback to nine years ago shows what Woody is willing to do so that no toy is left behind and how Bo Peep is removed from the home. It also shows how Woody is tempted to leave Andy for the love of Bo Peep, but his loyalty to Andy keeps him home.

Flash forward and Woody is abandoned in the closet. His “Sheriff” badge is given to Jessie while Bonnie plays games with all the other toys. Woody puts on a brave face and does his best to keep everyone safe and organized. However, his disappointment and pain are clear. When Bonnie faces the trauma of going to Kindergarten, Woody tags along and helps her build a new friend. The new friend is a spork that wants to be in the trash, so Woody spends an entire song trying to keep the spork from throwing itself away. Much of the rest of the film involves Woody trying to save the spork from an antique store.

During his adventures, Woody meets up with Bo Peep, who has been on her own for years, and is faced with a decision: Does he go back to “his kid” or does he stay with the love of his life? This parallels the exact decision that adults have to make when it comes to their relationships or their children, except Woody is abandoning his child for his old flame.

The choice he makes is disturbing on several levels. Woody chooses Bo Peep going against his long-held beliefs about loyalty and no toy left behind – something he learned in the first film during his rivalry with Buzz.

He also goes against his character traits of compassion and selflessness, which are still on display moments before his final decision. The implication is that if your child ignores you, it’s okay to abandon that child for someone else. When the going gets tough, Woody leaves.

If Woody is the father in this scenario (the film revolves around getting back to his child), Bonnie is being left in a selfish decision that is spurred on by Buzz, who misunderstands what his inner voice is. In essence, Woody is spending his child’s inheritance and never going to see her again.

But he’s not just abandoning Bonnie. He’s abandoning the toys that he’s become a leader to, and he’s abandoning his friends. Woody choosing carnal love over enduring the hardships if familial love that come with a changing position and lifestyle is exactly what many people are doing nowadays.

For more Disney-related analysis, order “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

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