Toy Story 3

Meaning in Toy Story 3

If someone were to ask you what you would consider a deep and meaningful movie what would you say? Odds are it would not be a movie made for kids, yet alone one that is animated. Although it may seem unlikely, Toy Story 3 is a truly deep movie with significant greater meaning than any Saturday morning cartoon could hope to offer. It brings to light several important issues people shall always face. Toy Story 3 shows, in multiple contexts, that good things can come to an end, and brings to question if love is worth the effort if it may not last.

Movie Summary

The movie begins with a home video of Andy as a young child playing with all of his favorite toys. His imagination runs wild and the toys are clearly enjoying themselves as well. This home movie ends, and it becomes clear that times have changed. Andy, the once imaginative child, is now seventeen and ready to head off to college. Andy has grown apart from his once beloved toys and is now more interested in typical teenage activities. At this time, he is given an ultimatum. Either pack his toys away in the attic, or donate them. The toys are hoping to be packed away in the attic to be played with years later, maybe by Andy’s children. Andy opens his toy chest for the first time in a long time, and packs all of his toys into a black garbage bag destined for the attic, but leaves his favorite toy, Woody the cowboy, aside to take with him to school. Andy’s mother confuses the bag for trash and places it outside. Woody then attempts to save the toys from the garbage truck. The toys all escape and decide it will be best to jump in the family car and donate themselves to a local day-care. Woody thinks this is a bad idea, but is trapped with the other toys in the car anyway. Upon their arrival, Andy’s toys meet all of the toys in the day-care, and everything seems that it will work out okay. However, the toys would soon find that things were not as good as they seemed. The day-care, “ is run like a prison by a mean teddy bear that was abandoned by his owner and has taken twisted revenge on all toys, building up a hierarchy of privilege and punishment for all donations to the day
The toys decide it is best to donate themselves to Sunnyside Daycare.
The toys decide it is best to donate themselves to Sunnyside Daycare.
care” (Craig Forgrave, Movie Analyst, MarketBOB’s Movie Review, 6-19-10). Woody escapes the evil Lotso in an attempt to find his way back to Andy. Meanwhile, Barbie and Ken meet and fall for each other, and the gang of toys is forced to suffer the destructive play of toddlers in the less desirable room of the day-care center. In an attempt to save the gang, Buzz Lightyear tries to escape the tortures of the toddler’s play room, but is re-programed by the evil toys to do their bidding. Woody returns at the perfect time and forms an elaborate plan for all of the toys to escape. Just as it appears that they will all escape without harm, the evil Lotso bear attempts to foil their escape, and they all end up in a dumpster and are taken to the city dump. The toys all regroup and are scooped up and thrown into a trash separator. Woody even helps Lotso the bear to avoid a horrible trash shredder, and in return, Lotso proves his evil ways and leaves the whole group to be incinerated. The friends all join hands and brace themselves for the inevitable. Suddenly, a giant claw appears and scoops the toys away to safety, thanks to the alien toys who adore the claw.

At this point, the movie seems as though it would conclude with the typical fairytale ending, as the evil Lotso bear is forced to live his days tied to the front of a garbage truck, and all of the good toys return safely to Andy’s house just in time for him to leave for school. But instead of going to the attic, the toys put themselves into a box marked “Donate?” When Andy wakes up, he finds the box and decides he will donate his toys. Andy drives to the house of the little girl who took care of Woody when he escaped. She promises to take good care of his toys while he is away at school, so Andy pulls each one of his old toys out of the box one by one and introduces them to the little girl. Last out of the box is Woody and Andy decides that even his favorite toy deserves to be enjoyed by the little girl. Before he leaves, Andy and the little girl play with all of the toys together, and the toys are able to play with Andy for one last time. Andy drives off into the sunset. His toys are sad to see him go, but are happy to have found a new home.

This movie is incredibly effective at establishing important ideas like the concept of growing up and the fact that good things do not always last. Andy is a prime
Andy plays with Woody for one last time.
Andy plays with Woody for one last time.
example of growing up. In the earlier Toy Story films, Andy is a young and imaginative boy who loves and adores his toys. He spends nearly every waking moment with them, creating new adventures and obstacles for them to overcome. The audience is reminded of this by the home movie of Andy playing at the start of the movie. Immediately after is when the harsh reality sets in that Andy is growing up. He is not the same boy he used to be and has matured into a young adult. Along with this growth came a lot of change. “As with almost all young adults, Andy's attention is very much divided among many different things, none of which being his former partners in crime.” (Sylvan Dupree, Movie Analyst, of Associated Content, 6-28-10) As a result, he played with his toys less and less frequently until they were eventually forgotten in a toy box, left to collect dust. This is difficult for the toys as they never do grow up. Andy’s toys were always ready for adventure and play and wanted nothing more of life. Sooner or later Andy’s growth was bound to catch up to them and leave him and his toys after different things. It became obvious at this point that their relationship would never be the same again.

Woody also does a fair bit of growing up in this movie. From the very beginning, Woody has always been loyal to his owner Andy. He would make any sacrifice
Woody risks his safety to help his friends.
Woody risks his safety to help his friends.
for his owner and truly loved and adored him. Woody was very strict in his beliefs that Andy’s toys would always be Andy’s toys and that they would stand beside him no matter what. When the rest of the toys decided they wanted to be donated instead of sit in the attic, Woody was completely against it. As time wore on, however, he began to favor the bond with his friends over remaining loyal to Andy, a boy who had outgrown his toys. Woody’s growth is complete when he realizes that the toys would be better suited making other kids happy. It is then that Woody puts a note on top of the toy box which reads “Donate?” This is also the final point of Andy’s growth in the movie as he makes the difficult decision to give up his toys and make another happy.

In another example, Lotso the bear was adored by his owner. One day he and some of her other toys were left behind at a park by mistake. Lotso traveled for days on end to eventually return to his home and his owner Daisy, only to find that he had been replaced by another Lotso bear. It is clear that she missed her favorite toy and her parents replaced it with a new one. Daisy was likely too young to notice the difference in the two toys and moved on with her life. Lotso, on the other hand, could not cope with the loss of their relationship, having gone from the favorite to being completely out of Daisy’s life. In this example, Lotso held a grudge against all other toys, since he lost his good life with Daisy.
Additionally, these important life concepts bring about the question: Is it better to have loved, and lost then to never have loved at all? In the case of Lotso the bear, he was unable to continue leading a happy life lacking the love he once shared with his owner Daisy. Lotso likely would have rather never even known Daisy than to live without her. But for all of Andy’s toys, quite the opposite is true. Although he has moved on to bigger things, it is safe to say that they will always cherish their time with Andy. And rather than waste away in a box, they now have a wonderful owner who possesses an amazing imagination, just as Andy did when he played with his toys. These toys can now bring joy to another child’s life and still hold the fond memories from their first owner.


It is through all of these great examples, obvious or hidden, in Toy Story 3 that connections can be made to everyday life. Most people hope for things in life to work out like fairytales, with perfect endings and happily ever after’s, but in reality, this is almost never the case. People, by nature, are not perfect. And as time goes on, things may change. Relationships may come and go, and all the while people are constantly changing as they grow older, and move on to different things. At times things will end when we want them to continue, or change when we want them to stay as they were. However, we can work to change things, to make things last, and to make things stronger. We must continue onward even if things change in a bad way because for all we know, something better is waiting just around the corner.

Although Toy Story 3 is a movie intended for a younger audience, it brings about deeper thought and meaning than most other movies hitting the box office. This movie allows the audience to see how growing up can change many things, and that change is at times inevitable, all through a fabulous and enjoyable story. This gives reason for adults to watch and learn from the movie along with their kids. Toy Story 3 faces some of the real issues of everyday life that are not always the brightest, yet leaves viewers realizing that there is always hope for the better. This movie is timeless and teaches just as much to adults as it does to kids.

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Useful Links
Disney's Toy Story WebsiteToy Story 3 Fun Facts