This is the third of a 23-part series in which we visit the Pixar movies in chronological order.
Back in 1999, Hollywood wasn’t quite consumed with sequels, prequels and reboots as it is now. But still, it was surprising that Pixar was going there three movies in! Toy Story had already proved wildly successful with tons more storytelling potential, so why not play with it some more?
The whole gang is back!
It Seriously Played
Toy Story 2 was a hit! The decision to go sequel so soon, paid off. Audiences came out to play to a Randy Newman tune of ………. “I’ve got a friend in you,” indeed. Not bad for a project that was once considered for straight to video. No really!
Hey Kids, Let’s Contemplate Our Own Mortality
The film deftly handles these themes while maintaining a zany, fun energy throughout.
It continued Pixar’s early streak of brilliance and is easily one of the best sequels ever made. Yes, Mr. Lasseter, right up there with The Godfather Part II.
That’s the Sound of Inevitability
To ever so slightly paraphrase the philosopher Agent Smith, of the Matrix: “You hear that, Mr. Woody? It’s the sound of inevitability.” It’s one of the great struggles of life.
Woody is faced with a tragic truth.
Stinky Pete: "How long will it last, Woody? Do you really think Andy is going to take you to college, or on his honeymoon? Andy's growing up, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's your choice, Woody. You can go back, or you can stay with us and last forever. You'll be adored by children for generations."
Pete may be manipulating Woody for his own selfish reasons, but he’s not wrong. Jessie affirms it through her own traumatic experience and backstory, having faced abandonment herself. At one point she experiences something akin to a panic attack. Despite being in seemingly perfect condition, she is clearly a broken toy.
The boy, Andy, Woody’s reason for living, is going to grow up. And nothing, not even the powers of infinity and beyond, can stop that.
Change is inevitable.
Keep the Change? Make Some Change?
Losing a job or starting a job, moving to a new city, new relationships, lost relationships, parenthood… PANDEMIC?… there’s no shortage of life happenings – exhilarating or disappointing – readily available to shake up our lives at a moment’s notice. Some change we have to keep.
So how to healthily navigate changes as they happen in our lives, particularly those that cause anxiety?
There are always ways to empower ourselves even when things feel out of our control. Consider this well known prayer from St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, grant me the strength to change the things I can, the serenity to deal with the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.“ Even the non-spiritual have to admit there is some solid self care happenings here, with karate chop action!
This St. Francis self care plan requires an intentional level of evaluation of self and situation. Ask ourselves: What can I take responsibility for here? This will allow for moving towards empowerment, working towards the possible.
If it’s a loss, remember it’s okay to sit with the sadness. Then instead of pushing back and avoiding, acknowledge it, learn from it, and seek support, whether from a trusted friend or a therapist. Make a list of your strengths and what you have come through in the past.
Once Woody was able to collect himself (he’s a collector’s item, remember?), he acknowledged his own unique situation. The changes he feared was future tense, something that could paralyze him if he got too bogged down in the what-ifs.
His resulting action was to take a risk, bring himself back into the present, perhaps taking a deep breath, regaining his focus and being proactive. It meant returning home and leaning into his support system – Buzz, Bo Peep and the rest.
Invite Others to Play
We are not alone!
Note that once Woody was able to reorient himself, he found other struggling toys. How beautiful was it when he took Jessie and Bullseye under his wing, brought the two back to Andy’s house, effectively restoring them to community and sense of purpose? Can we not do the same?
Yes, the threat of future “abandonment” still loomed but they would deal with it together. And, as Toy Story 3 would prove, these scary changes can still find bittersweet resolutions. But that, of course, is for a future installment in this series.
Where to Watch
Toy Story 2 is currently streaming on Disney+. What did you think of Pixar’s third outing for its favorite toys? Is it a sequel worthy of the greats? How do you navigate change? Let us know in the comments below!
Other installments in the Pixar series: Part 1 - Toy Story Part 2 - A Bug's Life
Toy Story (1999)
Director: John Lasseter
Screenwriters: Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin, Chris Webb
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Kelsey Grammer, Joan Cusack, Wayne Knight, John Ratzenberger, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, Annie Potts
Runtime: 85 minutes
Scott is a movie lover who brings over 20 years experience in mental health, journalism and vocational ministry. He has a Masters of Divinity degree, which is not nearly as amazing sounding as Masters of the Universe, but it is what it is. It is here at Movies That Move Us where his powers combine! It is not uncommon to find him pretending to open automatic doors using The Force.