I’ll warn you now… A certain and extremely popular movie’s story-line will be spoiled if you continue to read this post. However, along the same line-of-thinking you’ll likely need to watch the film to make sense out of this post, altogether. Oh… And, maybe have some awareness around the Bible, Dante (Inferno) and God, in general.
There is the movie Toy Story brought to you by those hearty and ferocious cinemeisters (I made that up!) Pixar. But, there are also two sequels (that did very little for Tim Allen’s acting career). But, as well-received, and, and lofty, I’ll add, as the original effort was, and remains, the third film in the Toy Story series is the most dogmatic to date. In fact, it’s the story of mankind’s relationship with God, and our collective position relative to the way beings, human, and otherwise, relate to the almighty couldn’t be more clear (to me any way). It could be argued, and I will, that the script may as well have been written by John Calvin himself.
God, cast as God (or, Andy):
God, or the God, in this movie is referred to as “Andy” to throw off the less focused. The film begins as God (heretofore: “Andy”) is preparing to move on to a new universe (rather like Babylon 5 and the “Old Ones”), leaving behind the realm he has long ruled. Andy’s current universe is populated with toys that he has loved and cherished throughout a period of his existence (consider my prior post: How Long Is Seven Days?), and before he can leave he apparently has to decide what to do with them. Although why God has to do anything, other than be satisfied with what he’s both wrought, and set into motion, is not made clear. To wit… He has four choices: he can take them with him to his new domain; he can hand them over to a different god [small caps because there is, in my current view, only the one almighty] (so okay, maybe the script isn’t as Calvinist as I laid-claim to above); he can consign them to a purgatory also known ominously as “the attic”; or he can send them to …Hell. He chooses the third option for all the toys except his favorite, Woody, with whom he is well-pleased. So, we also have Paradise Lost, in play (well past the Adam and Eve part, mind you).
Woody, the Arbiter (in form, if not name):
Woody is a sanctimonious prick who spends his entire life reminding all his colleagues of Andy’s greatness and infallibility – and, generally bossing people around like a fifth grade hall-monitor. When Andy decides to send the rest of the toys to purgatory (heretofore: “the Attic”), Woody supports Him totally – and, we can reasonably assume that had Andy decided, instead, to send them straight to Hell, Woody would be quoting Romans 3:10 /1 as justification, and telling them to suck it up because the ‘potter can do whatever he wants with his clay’ […].
All that said, and thusly, nonetheless, when, by mistake, the mother of Andy (work with me, here, because this obviously deviates from any context of the Bible) sets the toys on a path towards Hell, Woody sets-out to save them.
Is it because he’s concerned for his people (all Moses-like), or because the (or, a) law as established by his Lord has been interfered with? I think it’s probably the latter, because Woody is a dick (just like almost every power-hungry fifth grade hall monitor you ever met).
The Other Toys, cast as “the Fallen”:
When the toys realise that they’re destined for Hell they (understandably) become rebellious and elect to reject Andy and go off to find other gods (just a reminder, this would be children) to, in effect, serve. Woody remonstrates with them, telling them they should remain faithful, and that it was all a mistake; but under the leadership of the female temptress Jesse (naturally a Barbie Doll with Eve-like qualities, and who shall realize redemption), the others won’t listen to him. As far as they’re concerned whether their deity has abandoned them to Hell or Purgatory makes little difference; the issue is that they’ve been abandoned, while Woody has not. So, the rage is thusly, tinged with jealousy, as well.
The plot gets really interesting when they arrive en masse at a kind of Paradise for toys; a place where they will be played with all day long (which after all, is what they were designed for), Woody is still in the throes of righteous indignation, and insisting that they return to Andy’s house, and get themselves up into Attic-that-is-Purgatory, where they belong, while he waltzes off to whatever earned and exciting new place Andy is making for. However, the other Toys choose to ignore him, looking forward to a new life of hedonism… So, there is the Pinnochio element here, as well.
And this, of course, proves to be their downfall. The loss of grace, or the perception thereof, as it were, is so devastating, eh.
The paradise they think they have discovered, and will ultimately lose, is in fact ruled by an atheist! This dark angel is an evil, strawberry-smelling bear who has rejected all gods and has set himself up as a mortal god on earth. He’s a pink furry Joseph Stalin (I’ll need to revisit the film, but I coulda sworn he was referred to as “Uncle” at one point. How apropos.).
The film could have ended here, but audiences may have been left with a view of God as cold and unconcerned with his universe, so the story carries on with rescue and redemption promised and gamely [sic] afoot. All the while, Woody continues his righteous quest to be reunited with his Master, but then he gets distracted by feelings of compassion for his friends. Foolishly, it would seem, he tries to help them, not realising that by attempting to interfere with destiny he’s only going to make things worse.
Woody’s fateful efforts lead the toys to the very precipice of Hell (oh, the inferno!), which they only escape by means of a ludicrous plot device (that also serves to remind us that this is a children’s first movie). The atheist Lotso, of course, who has by now been exposed and proved his evil atheist character beyond a doubt, is not so fortunate, and is consigned to an eternal punishment direct from the mind of Dante.
And as it should be, once the atheist villain has been disposed of, the film can end nicely with the redemption of not only foolish Woody and the ungrateful toys but also Andy, who is finally shown indulging his merciful side.
And you, that collective you, can make your way from the cinema, or possibly the comfort of your home state-of-the-art theaters, comforted in the understanding that God is great after all, possibly fair – and, made relevant today by his easy interpretation on the silver screen.
…at least to Pixar, anyway. According to Wikipedia.org, The film is currently the highest-grossing film of 2010 in the United States and Canada. /2
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
1/ As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one“.
2/ The film is also the highest-grossing film of 2010 worldwide. In July, it surpassed Finding Nemo to become Pixar‘s highest ever grossing film at the North American box office. In early August 2010, the film became Pixar‘s highest-grossing film worldwide, and surpassed Shrek 2 as the highest-grossing animated film of all-time worldwide. In late August 2010, Toy Story 3 became the first ever Pixar film and animated film in history to make $1 billion worldwide. It is currently the 5th highest-grossing film worldwide of all time.
A story, and an epic one at that, within a story, to be sure.