At last we come to the final installment in the Toy Story Trilogy. I really hope it stays a trilogy and they don’t make a 4th. The shorts they have been doing are ok, but making another feature would likely cheapen the franchise. Thankfully, despite the fact that this is a “3” film, it’s a solid story and actually answers the question that’s been in our mind ever since Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl sang “When Somebody Loved Me”; that is, “What’s going to happen when Andy, the boy who loves his toys dearly, goes away to college?”
We come back into the lives of Buzz, Woody and their other toy pals just before their boy, Andy, goes away to college. As you may remember from the Gospel Explorations of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Andy is the Christ figure in this story. The toys get their worth from him, and without Andy, they are only toys. The opening scene reminds us of how awesome the toys are when they are in Andy’s hands.
But it’s actually been a while since Andy has played with his toys, and they are starving for his attention. One might even think that Andy had completely forgotten they existed. At many times in the life of a Christian, it may feel as though we are further from Christ than we once were; or there may be some tragedy or a “desert place” that causes us to feel like Jesus has forgotten us. But we know that Jesus will never leave us, nor forsake us.
When Mom tells Andy he needs to decide what to do with his toys, he decides to keep the toys in different ways. Woody he plans to take to college, and the other toys he puts in a garbage bag for storage in the attic. Not exactly the dream life for toys, especially toys that know the wonder of being played with by Andy. Woody again reminds his comrades that, “This isn’t about getting played with; it’s about being there for Andy.” And the toys all agree, if that’s what Andy wants, that’s what they’ll do. But, oh no! Mom thought the garbage bag was trash and put it by the road for pick up!
The toys misunderstand Andy’s actions and in anger, they decide they’d rather get donated to Sunnyside Daycare. When they get there, everything seems great, and Woody ends up leaving his friends there, imagining they will be fine. Buzz and the rest see the daycare as awesome opportunity to live freely, without being tied down to a child who might one day break their hearts. In reality, the daycare toys are all imprisoned by Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear and his minions.
Sunnyside is a lot like the world. It’s very welcoming and promises us freedom, particularly, freedom from God’s invasion into our lives. In reality, the world is a prison with Satan as the warden. The only way we can really be free is when we are in the will of our LORD. Andy’s toys decided they didn’t like what he had chosen for them, so they made their own path. Sometimes we don’t like Jesus’ plans for us and try to go our own way. That will only lead to destruction.
Meanwhile, Woody ends up in the possession of a little girl named Bonnie. Bonnie has her own toys at home and takes good care of them, just like Andy. But he also meets Chuckles the Clown and learns the truth about Sunnyside and Lotso. He goes back to free his friends and return them to Andy. After realizing that Andy did intend to keep the toys in the attic and not throw them away, they are just as eager to return to him as Woody. In a terrifying ordeal, they end up at the dump and almost get shredded and burned. That is a great example of what the end of the line is for those who choose their own path in life instead of the Way of Jesus.
After they arrive back at Andy’s house, Andy decides that, instead of putting his toys in the attic, he’ll give them to someone who will take good care of them, Bonnie. When Andy brings the toys to Bonnie’s house, he introduces each toy to her. Andy knows his toys, everything about them, because he loves them. And even though he has to leave for college, his love hasn’t changed. Bonnie will take good care of the toys, and play with them just like Andy did.
Wait, if Andy is the Christ figure, does that mean Bonnie is, too? Actually, Bonnie is a great way for us to explain the Holy Spirit to our children. Jesus had to leave Earth, but He promised He would not leave us alone. In His absence He has provided a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Without a doubt, Jesus knows us better than Andy knows his toys, and has left us in Good Hands. I imagine the scene where the toys were sitting on the porch watching Andy drive away was very like the way it was for the disciples to watch our Lord ascend into heaven. Of course, Andy’s not a prefect shadow of Christ, and even though Andy may never return for his toys, before Jesus left, He promised to come back, One Day. Maranatha!
- At the very beginning of the movie, Andy is playing with his toys, and it is amazing; but after many years, he doesn’t play with the toys. Does that mean he doesn’t care about them anymore? Would Jesus ever forget you? (Isaiah 49:15, Deuteronomy 31:8, Matthew 28:20)
- Andy wanted his toys to go in the attic, but instead they ran away to Sunnyside Daycare. They ended up in a lot of trouble because of that. Sometimes Jesus will want us to do something that we don’t want to do. What will happen if we don’t listen to him? (Psalm 139:7, Jonah 1:1-3, Matthew 7:14)
- When the toys first arrived at Sunnyside, they thought it was going to be a wonderful place, but it turned out to be a prison. How is that similar to the way the world may offer us nice things, but in the end we will be its prisoners? (John 8:34)
- Before Andy left for college, he gave his toys to Bonnie and he told her how to play with them best. How is that like Jesus, who gave us the Holy Spirit to comfort us while He is with His Father in heaven? In what very important way is it different? (Jesus promised to come back for us.) (John 16:7, Acts 2:17)