Toy Story 3: Who owns you?

Posted: September 6, 2011 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Family
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When you first watched Toy Story 3, did you think it was just a story of a maturing Andy, leaving behind his childish toys?  Or maybe a story of friendship and faithfulness?  If so, you missed an incredible gospel opportunity with your youngsters.  Go ahead, pull the movie out again, get some popcorn, and be ready to watch and talk–with your Biblical worldview glasses on!

Toy Story 3 should be subtitled: Who Owns You?  From the beginning to the end of the movie, Woody is the voice of a radical faith: He believes with all his plastic heart that he belongs to Andy FOREVER.  With his name imprinted on his boot, Woody has always lived to please Andy.  The other toys are very shaky in this belief, at best; the fear of the attic causes them to doubt Andy’s love, and then the illusion of being kicked to the curb does them in.  Suffering and pain has drained their little toy-like faith.

Enter the seduction of “the world” in the form of Sunnyside Daycare.  A place for castoff toys where, according to a Serpent-tongued strawberry bear named Lotso, “No owners means no heartbreak,” “We are masters of our own destinies,” and “We OWN OURSELVES.”  All Andy’s toys, except faith-filled Woody, is sucked into these lies.  That is, until “the world” eats their lunch.  Not being owned by ONE means being used by EVERYONE!

The toys finally realize that Andy is seeking them out.  “We’ve gotta go HOME” is their cry.  When Woody, on his own way home, realizes his friends are in a place of “ruin and despair,” he rushes in to save.  No returning to Andy for Woody without bringing salvation to his friends.  They must to stick together to get back to their true OWNER: the ONE who stamped his name on all his chosen toys!

Then there’s the climactic scene at the dump–a dramatic picture of hell, including the fire and brimstone.  Evil Lotso takes his last shot to destroy Andy’s toys, shouting the ultimate pagan lie: “You were made to be thrown away!”  On the verge of burning and destruction, saving grace comes “from above” in the form of a claw that plucks them from death.  Then, they finally make it back home to their OWNER.  And, they fully embrace his RIGHT to do with them as he pleases.  And, Andy doesn’t fail them–he provides a new, very heavenly, home for them before he goes to college!

Does any of this sound familiar?  It’s the GOSPEL packaged in an entertaining Pixar film.  Use this incredible animated film to teach your young viewers that the Lord Jesus OWNS them.  That the world and their own fearful hearts will tempt them to become their own gods and reject the one true God.  That they need to have the Spirit open their eyes to see their true OWNER and true HOME.  That they were made to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  That it’s all about God!  That He is the potter, and we are His “plastic toys.”  That the LORD can be trusted to save, and to provide a forever home for us in Christ!

  1. John, thanks for the incisive ideas. Great food for thought.
    It is very curious how (SPOILER ALERT) the bad bear never finds redemption, which of course is well in accord with the Bible. I saw it on 3D… although I normally do not like 3D in this case the glasses had the advantage of masking the tears!

  2. Lynne in NC says:

    Thanks for this review. We saw TS3 as a family and I better understand why it spoke to all of us. Thanks for your insight as well. It seems to be an excellent tool for children of all ages, including the 50-somethings among us!

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