In this new and final installment of Pixar-Disney’s Toy Story, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that regardless how much image digitization and editing we perform, no matter how bright we make Bo Peep’s chops, to look like a porcelain figure, there are just some things beyond the scope of technological innovation; and here, it’s working on values. You’re not looking for a super toy, a new Buzz Lightyear (whose role is less prominent in this movie). Here, we’re on a different mission: the mission where an ugly and shoddily crafted toy, Forky, helps us become better folk. Enter stage left, a plastic fork with misplaced eyes and fragile arms, but who, nevertheless, is accepted and loved by all. And even in reality! The toy has become merchandising gold as its best-selling toy, even beating our beloved Sheriff Woody.
Toy Story marked the beginning of an era. It made children’s fantasies come true: toys, finally, coming to life. But from a simple and humble beginning to what it’s become after four films, now that is a stretch! In the new film, which has already raised more than $500 million at the box-office, they go that one step further; here, the central character is different. This inevitably sends a message; everyone deserves to be accepted within a group, regardless of their physical appearance or disability, just like kids do, pure and without prejudice. This need for inclusion is also central to the Gabby Gabby doll’s character, who lives in a showcase, protected by terrifying and deformed dolls, because her time is up! A trinket from the past, too old for modern tastes until eventually, she’s found by a girl who respects her and wants to be with her.
There is also a nod towards the female figure. Bo Peep, our guiding-lighted shepherdess is now an independent woman, catching up quickly on what she’s missed and honing her heroine skills, saves Buddy from more than a few tight situations. She’s got tough and is presented as a crucial figure in history. But, there’s still another message, although this has been ever-present throughout all four films; the value of friendship. Friends are not left behind. They must stand together and help each other, no matter what! (“You’ve Got A Friend in Me…”). There is even talk of something deeper: personal growth. Woody has to overcome the fact that neither Andy nor his little sister Bonnie want to play with him anymore. And he (finally) decides to choose his path, to live his life and shake of the ‘not lost’ toy chains; to become a toy who has found itself.