To start off, the first Toy Story (1995) film was the rudimentary foundation that the forthcoming sequels could build and expand upon. In addition, Toy Story introduces all the significant playthings in Andy’s Room plus one of the film’s stars: Woody, a pull-string cowboy voiced magnificently by Tom Hanks. Presenting Andy’s toys includes firmly establishing each individual toy’s personality and idiosyncrasy. On Andy’s birthday his illustrious gift is a high-tech space ranger named Buzz Lightyear which amusingly is given life thanks to Tim Allen. Since he came out of his packaging Buzz has been deluded, he believes that he’s a genuine space ranger and not a toy. When the duo become “lost”, Woody is determined to return to Andy, if only he and Buzz can survive their stay at Sid’s house, a kid notorious for dismembering and blowing up his toys. On top of that, the majority of Andy’s other toys believe a jealous Woody killed Buzz by knocking him out of the bedroom window. However, through their horrific ordeal, Woody and Buzz become friends and Woody’s innocence is proven. And the idea of what being owned entails in conjunction with its importance is explored, this is something Woody strongly believes in and it carries on through Toy Story 2 (1999) and 3 (2010).
Likewise, the wit and charm from Toy Story reverberates in its sequel, furthermore the characters aren’t rough around the edges any longer, and they’re even more believable now. The toys’ difficulties are exceptionally mature and universal. Whatever heart was in the predecessor trails the second installment of Toy Story. Sticking to the continuity founded in Toy Story, Toy Story 2 begins with the unthinkable happening to Woody: his arm rips. He’s “broken”, literally and metaphorically. Broken toys are moved to the shelf, an omen for a broken toy’s future: either by being sold at a garage sale or being tossed into the trash. He is “stolen” by Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight), an obsessive toy collector and owner of the toy store Al’s Toy Barn. The film divulges that the Woody figure was a world phenomenon, at one time possessing a cheesy television series called “Woody’s Round-Up” featuring Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (Joan Cusack), Bullseye, Woody’s trusty steed and Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammar); all four together were dubbed The Round-Up Gang. Lamentably, without Woody as part of their Round-Up Gang set, Jessie, the Prospector, and Bullseye will be shoved back into permanent storage where only darkness and forgetting is. The heartrending back story of the cowgirl Jessie involves the special love a child can feel for a toy then abruptly having that affection ripped away, tragically followed by downright abandonment. Woody is faced with a thought-provoking moral dilemma: Return to Andy? Or be immortalized at a toy museum in Japan and adored by children for generations? In the long run, Woody leaves with Jessie and Bullseye, recognizing Andy won’t be a kid forever, accepting his bittersweet future.
Finally, for Toy Story 3, Andy, now seventeen, is leaving for college. He has to decide which toys get to be stashed in the attic, donated, taken to college or thrown in the garbage. Due to a mistake, the toys end up on the curb and a concerned Jessie says, “It’s Emily all over again,” remembering her excruciating separation from her onetime owner Emily. Because of Woody’s quick thinking, the toys are taken to Sunnyside Daycare Center which seems like Eden, with its an infinite supply of children, eager to play with them, five days a week. Not convinced, Woody, longing to go back to Andy departs, saying his farewell to all of his friends. Unfortunately, it is soon apparent, that Lots-O-Hugging Bear (Ned Beatty), a pink and white teddy bear that smells of strawberries, turned this paradise into a prison. After hearing about Lotso’s sad past, (he was accidentally lost, along with Chuckles the depressed clown and Big Baby, but then “replaced” by another Lotso), Woody comes back to rescue the toys from Sunnyside. In the end, Woody is given away too with all the other toys to a worthy and imaginative successor. A reluctant Andy then provides Woody and his toys one last playtime before eternally relinquishing them. Woody knows that there’s no way to change being “outgrown” by Andy, so his years-long ownership with him is officially over and his new present is quite playful. John Lasseter, the creator of the highly successful Toy Story and who directed the first two films, says, “When you’re broken, you can be fixed; when you’re lost, you can be found; when you’re stolen, you can be recovered. But there’s no way to fix being outgrown by the child.”
Frankly, Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy makes an incredibly strong case for being one of greatest trilogies in cinema history. The trilogy is a tale about toys and the ramifications they endure during their lifetime. Throughout all three films, the themes of friendship, acceptance, loss, redemption, being useless, battered psychological states, fear of being unloved, the fear of isolation (death) and growing older are excellently addressed. For instance, Andy playing with his toys before going away to college in Toy Story 3 marks his transition from being a child to now an adult. Furthermore, Jessie, an outwardly boisterous girl, is haunted by her previous owner’s desertion, evident through her hyperventilating and nyctophobia (a severe fear of the darkness), triggered from years of loneliness in storage. Despite how much time has passed, Jessie’s scars remain. These CGI toys symbolize the vulnerability of humanity, they are impressive parodies of what human beings will likely experience during his or her life: the good and the bad. Ultimately, Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy is masterfully consistent, human, comical, entertaining, profound, and effusive with hints of somberness nestled in between everything else, just like how life is.