Last week, I started my reviews on the three “Toy Story” movies. This week comes “Toy Story 2”, which turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater. I have never seen a theater so full and laughing so hard, before or since. “Toy Story 2” is, in my opinion, the funniest of the three movies, and on top of its humor, it also contains spiritual themes that started with the first “Toy Story”.
Tom Hanks again voices Woody, Andy’s favorite toy (along with, of course, Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Tim Allen), and the two of them are getting ready to go to camp when Woody’s arm rips. Through a series of events that are too irrelevant to put in this blog (yeah, just watch the movie), Woody is in a sense “kidnapped” by a toy collector named Al (Wayne Knight). It turns out that Woody actually had a 1950’s TV show called “Woody’s Roundup”, alongside Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (Joan Cusack), Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammer), and Bullseye the horse. Al has added Woody to his collection of the show’s merchandise that is soon to go to a Japanese museum on display. Buzz, Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), and Slinky (Jim Varney) go after Woody to find him, but as they are on their way, Woody starts believing that going to the museum is better than going back home to Andy—after all, Andy is growing up, and pretty soon, he’ll be too old to play with any of his toys.
There are three elements to this movie that I want to mention that relate to my faith. First: Buzz going to look for Woody after he’s kidnapped. Though Woody has been taken far away (at least, from a toy’s perspective), Buzz is determined to find his friend. “Woody once risked his life to save me,” he says. “I couldn’t call myself his friend if I weren’t willing to do the same.” As a Christian, the purpose of my life is to serve and glorify God because of what He’s done for me—he sent his son Jesus to die on a cross bearing the world’s sin. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Because Jesus died for me, I need to die to self—that is, put away the desires of my heart and surrender to God’s will—and humble myself before God just as Jesus humbled Himself on the cross.
Second: Woody starting to believe he shouldn’t go back to Andy. Remember what he told Buzz in the first movie? He tells Buzz, “Over in that house is a kid who thinks you are the greatest. And it’s not because you’re a space ranger, pal! It’s because you’re a toy! You are his toy!” Woody believed in Andy like a firm Christian believes in God—no matter what happens, God loves us for who we are, because He made us. In “Toy Story 2,” you could say that Woody, in his own way, is straying away from the faith. He’s forgotten what life with Andy was like, and he’s starting to believe that life in the museum will be better: as Stinky Pete tells him, “It’s your choice, Woody. You can go back… or you can stay with us and last forever. You’ll be adored by children for generations.” Don’t Christians think like this sometimes? We are distracted by a lifestyle that seems better than the one we’re living in Christ, and we start to abandon our faith—even though, in those terms, I might sound extreme. But one Biblical example of this is in Galatians, where Paul is writing to a people who are “turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. …But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (1:6b-7a, 8) When Woody is finally found, Buzz tries to bring Woody back in the same way that Paul brought back the Galatians.
WOODY: I don’t have a choice, Buzz. This is my only chance.
BUZZ: To do what, Woody? Watch kids from behind glass and never be loved again? Some life.
Eventually, Woody realizes he has to get back to Andy, and even though he can’t stop Andy from growing up, he “wouldn’t miss it for the world.” As Christians, we need to live this life without thinking about the end or about death, because God has a paradise in Heaven waiting for us in the next life.
This leads us to the third element: Andy growing up. Pretty soon, Andy will be at an age where he won’t play with Woody, Buzz, or any of his toys anymore. But should that stop the toys from being optimistic about the future? Woody’s ready to face it: “It’ll be fun while it lasts. Besides, when it all ends, I’ll have old Buzz Lightyear to keep me company—for infinity and beyond.” As a Christian, I need to be optimistic about the future, because as He says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Whatever God has planned for me, even though it may not seem to make sense right now, it will turn out for my good and His—even after this life! My prayer for you, the reader, is that you will never lose sight of what God has in store for your life, and that you would live this life with the knowledge that what is ahead of you is not only for your good, but also for the glory of God.