Toy Story: To Humility and Beyond (Lessons in Community)

This is the first in a 23 part series in which we visit the PIXAR movies in order of chronological release…. annnnnnd as I type this out, it is now hitting me the enormity of the task! It won’t be an every month kinda deal, so we should see the end in… oh… 10 years?

When Minivan Adventures and I set out to decide what film to kick off our monthly Family Movie Fridays Twitter party events, the choice was a no-brainer: Toy Story. The OG of PIXAR.

Let’s play! (Warning: Spoilers)

INFINITE Possibilities

Toy Story was Pixar’s first feature film and wow, did the studio ever know how to make an entrance! The 3D animation, so commonplace these days, was revolutionary at the time. And it wasn’t just eye candy, it offered an imaginative and engaging story that entertained both children and adults alike.

To infinity and beyond became more than just a catchphrase for an imaginary toy – it almost felt like a slogan for the studio itself. It felt like anything was possible… and, indeed, future offerings backed that statement.

The basic concept: When humans are not around, toys come to life. WHAAAAAAA??

The setting/conflict: Andy’s bedroom, populated with SOOOOO many memorable characters. Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles)! Little Bo Peep (Annie Potts)! Slinky Dog (Jim Varney)! T-Rex (Wallace Shawn, INCONCEIVABLE)! A piggy bank named Hamm (Pixar All-Star John Ratzenberger)! Good luck picking a favorite.

Do these toys ever have a story.

Cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) is the main man, errr, toy. A role that comes with being the “favorite.” Things change when Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) – the HOTTEST new toy of the season! He LIGHTS UP with lasers! He TALKS! He… FLIES? – arrives from the shelf and into Andy’s hands.

Buzz thinks he is a real spaceman, which leads to some fun moments and some strong emotional beats when he later learns the truth. The crux of the story hits when Buzz begins living every toy’s worst nightmare – he becomes lost! An unfortunate consequence brought on by Woody’s jealousy. OH NO!

The mission to bring Buzz home is full go and along the way, lessons are learned about friendship, rivalry, and loyalty.

A Tweet for Your Thoughts?

Other bloggers participated in Family Movie Friday last week and shared some really great lessons in Silver Screen Self Care based on the question prompts.

Surely I wouldn’t stoop so low as to use their tweets in lieu of actually putting in any actual work on my part? ……. OF COURSE I WILL.

(I kid. I received their blessing!!)

The Many Parts Come Together

April, of cohost Minivan Adventures, was moved by the scene in which Woody was recruiting and mobilizing the “scary” toys into an effort to rescue Buzz. These were the same toys that were grotesquely transformed by the evil neighbor boy, Sid.

Hey, turns out they just wanted to be loved all along. Don’t we all?

There really is something beautiful about Woody restoring these outsiders back into the community. These toys were once associated with fear, but were now instilled with new and righteous purpose. WOW!

It begs the question: What kinds of scary people in our own life might we find a potential ally in once we get to know them?

Well, Imagine That!

Toy Story seeks to examine the power of imagination and reminds of the importance of play time over screen time. Indeed, it made me nostalgic for the days with my best friend Jason and our younger brothers. The neighborhood became the Mushroom Kingdom and we became Mario, Luigi, Toad and…. Toad’s brother. Neither of our little brothers wanted to be relegated to the role of Princess Toadstool (not that there is anything wrong with that)! Ha.

Oh. And my childhood bedroom? It was actually a small town named Animalville. T’was a silly place.

My stuffed animal collection. At age 42.

The point? Our imaginations allowed us to go wherever we wanted to go. Be whoever we wanted to be! It engaged our brains in ways that television couldn’t.

Melissa of A Little Time and Keyboard says it is a great lesson for us grownups, too!


Well said, Mel!

To Screen or Not to Screen

So screen time is bad for kids, right? Not so fast, says Michelle, of Spring From Your Shell.

She’s right, you know. Family Movie Fridays ARE cool.

Just don’t go overboard. Kids nowdays are inundated with technology and are spending a whopping 18.6 hours per week on screens! So what is the answer? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “no more than one hour per day of ‘high-quality’ media.”

Friendship for the Win!

Stacey, of Love, Laughter and Luggage, kept things delightfully simple with her lesson.

Falling for you. With style.


Friendship really is a powerful thing! But first we have to get there. Humility is a key lesson. Before Woody and Buzz could fully realize the power of their connection, the former had to get over himself.

It’s a familiar feeling though, isn’t it? We feel threatened in our standing by someone and we try to take that someone down a peg. “YOU. ARE. A. TOY.” Woody’s friends took notice of this behavior and, instead, he was the one that was lowered in their eyes.

Good thing Woody learned. It resulted in resilience, resourcefulness and teamwork. Putting others before himself. At that point, Woody and Buzz SOARED. His friends were inspired. FRIENDSHIP WON THE DAY.

Let’s Move

To recap:

  • Ask yourself: What kinds of “scary” people in our own life might we find a potential ally in once we get to know them?
  • Encourage the kids in your life (and yourself!) to play with their toys and IMAGINE.
  • Remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than an hour per day of screen time… and the occasional family movie is more than fine, of course.
  • Humility! Drop the me-first attitude, lift up others, and watch your relationships soar.


Where to Watch

Toy Story is available for streaming on Disney Plus.

What lessons have you taken from Toy Story? Was imagination a big part of your childhood? Let me know in the comments below!

Toy Story (1995)

Director: John Lasseter

Screenwriters: Andrew Stanton, Joss Whedon

Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, John Morris

Rated: G


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  1. Michelle Faler

    Thanks for letting me participate and including me in your delightful post! I agree that both kids and adults should use screens in moderation. Too much screentime isn’t healthy for anyone. But I believe we can use certain popular media to motivate kids to think critically about important issues. This is why we write about movies, TV shows, music, etc. in a way that educates people about mental health. Also, this is way off-topic, but I’m SO jealous of that Homer plush. I have Maggie, Bart, and Marge. Unfortunately, our family dog ate my Lisa doll twenty years ago. Anyway, I had a lot of fun last Friday, and I’m super excited about next month’s movie!

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      Scott Harrison Rees

      Absolutely, Michelle! I agree. And the two can also go hand in hand. All those hours I spent outside pretending to be Super Mario or the Ghostbusters? My imagination was sparked by those cartoons. And DOH!! RIP Lisa. See you at next month’s Family Movie Friday for HOOK. 🙂

  2. Unwanted Life

    I still love watching animated films as I creep up to 40 long years on earth. Toy Story was a total game changer and I’m glad Disney haven’t ruined Pixar by cramming a boat load of songs into Pixar movies since buying them out

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  3. Celeste

    This was such a fun post and a great read! I haven’t seen Toy Story in a while and was instantly flooded with memories as I was reading along. I also noticed the Mickey Mouse stuffed animal and my grandma has almost an exact replica from when my mom was a child

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