No More Toyboxes and No More Closets
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Woody's transition from a child's toy to a "lost toy."
As a film student I get to do one of my favorite things, watch lots of movies. As part of my studies I also get to analyze lots of different features of movies. Here are some of my thoughts on Woody's story arc at the end of Toy Story 4...
Is Woody a "lost" toy or a "free" toy?
Woody, the primary protagonist has had many owners throughout his life: Andy, Sid, Al, Sunnyside Daycare and finally Bonnie. Unlike Sid, Al or the Sunnyside Daycare, Andy and to an extent Bonnie cared deeply for the cowboy. At the end of “Toy Story 3,” Woody ended up with Bonnie since Andy was going away to college and he gave all his toys to Bonnie. However, Bonnie does not really care much for Woody, she plays with all of Andy’s old toys except him causing him to feel extremely empty.
The beginning of the film is a flashback to how Woody and his longtime love interest, Bo Peep, got separated from one another as foreshadowing of Bo Peep’s return. However, the true beginning of the movie is in Bonnie’s closet. Woody is clearly upset that Bonnie does not pay attention to him like Andy did. Woody is especially humiliated after Bonnie forms a greater attachment to Forky, a spork with googly eyes, stick legs and pipe cleaners for arms. Woody spends most of the first part of the movie forcing the sentient silverware to not discard itself. Woody is only doing this since Bonnie likes the Frankenstein of a “toy.” The setting proceeds to jump back and forth due to the road trip Bonnie, her family and the toys all take.
The two primary settings throughout the rest of the film are the traveling carnival and the antique store. Both settings are a stark contrast to each other. The traveling carnival is fun, exciting, bright and mobile while the antique store is drab, boring and stationary. Woody’s plan was to go to the carnival to meet back up with the other toys and reunite Forky with Bonnie. Woody sees the lamp that originally held Bo Peep and her sheep in the antique store and goes in to investigate. However, Bo Beep has left due to being stagnant on a shelf for so long. Due to a chance encounter, Woody reunites with his long-lost love interest. Woody tries to convince the shepherd and her sheep to join him, but she states that she is a free toy not bound by any owner. More and more probing by Bo Beep causes Woody to reveal that the only reason he wants to return Forky despite knowing he will most likely be shelfed again by Bonnie is because he has nothing else to live for. Eventually Woody, Bo Beep, Forky, Buzz Lightyear, and newcomers to the series Ducky and Bunny, return to Bonnie and her family at the carnival. Woody has to make the choice to live as a free toy with Bo Beep or stay with the rest of his pals. Woody decides to go with Bo Beep and live as a “lost toy.” Even though “lost toy” sounds cold or sad, it is a term to that liberates Woody from the mundane closet. Like the carnival, Woody will soon be traveling the world living the rest of his days happy and free.
by Drew Cheskin