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‘Toy Story 4’

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The first chapter in the saga of Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) laid out a universe in which a child’s toys lived life in the same manner that humans do.

In that universe, there is loss and gain. There is joy and sadness.

But deeper is the life of the toy. A toy that could enrapture a child but also be thrown into the trash heap. That drama continues in this fourth chapter.


Toy Story 4 – Official Trailer

We begin not in the present, but in the past. If you have kept up with the story, in “Toy Story 3” there was a character missing: Bo Peep (Annie Potts).

There is an accounting of what happened to Bo because she plays a large part in this story.

Also in chapter 3, we see Andy – Woody’s and Buzz’s owner – preparing to go to college. His last act was to give his toys to Bonnie, a preschooler.

Now, Bonnie is about to go to kindergarten orientation, but she is fearful.

Woody decides to hide in her backpack and go with her. In the class, Bonnie is so shy she sits alone.

When it comes time to make a craft, the crayons and other supplies on her table are taken by another child. In sadness, she puts her head on the table. The little boy walks by the trash can, and some of the supplies fall in.

Woody comes out and goes to the trash. He grabs up the supplies, as well as a Popsicle stick and a plastic spork, a combination of spoon and a fork.

Placed on the table with Bonnie, she takes the stick and the spork and creates a new toy – Forky (Tony Hale).

When Bonnie returns from school, Woody introduces Forky to the other toys.

Forky is full of anxiety because he is aware of what he is and he believes his place is not as a toy, but in the trash.

He was found in the trash and he wants to return to the trash, for that is his destiny. Forky feels like he has achieved his purpose.

Bonnie’s family goes on a trip in an RV. Along the way, Forky is Woody’s responsibility, and we see the trouble Woody has just keeping Forky out of the trash.

It is along the journey that we reunite with Bo, and we find Woody and Forky within the walls of an antique shop, where there is a toy named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks).

She desires something Woody has. If Woody gives up what Gabby wants, that will make a terrible change in him.

Back in the RV, Buzz decides he must go and find Woody. He wants to ensure that his pal gets back with Forky, and they can continue living as Bonnie’s toys, but Buzz ends up as a prize in a carnival game in the process.

One of the things we learn about Woody is that he clearly holds to what he sees as his purpose. He says he knows he was made to help a child.

What we have seen in all four of these movies is Woody living out that purpose with clarity, but also with trouble.

He says in the fourth movie that he does not remember it being this hard to help a child.

This is what draws us to Woody. He lives out a clear understanding of his why. No matter what obstacle or circumstance, he holds tightly to that ideal.

What we see in Woody can be applied to where we are as God’s people.

We can say we feel we were not created for times like these. We know how we have configured our corporate life does not seem to match the reality we face. None of the ways we did things in the past works in the current time.

That is why coming to understand our why is of critical importance.

Woody understands his purpose, his why, is to help a child. Living that out gives him his reason for being.

That is what he tries to give to Forky, even though Forky believes his time is done and he belongs in the trash.

In this, and the other “Toy Story” movies, we see Woody living out what is his vision of purpose.

If we, as the church, can get to that place and decide what our reason for existing is, we may find our individual life and our corporate life may be much sweeter and enriching.

MPAA Rating: G

Director: John Cooley

Writers: Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom

Cast: Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Annie Potts (Bo Peep), Tony Hale (Forky), Christina Hendricks (Gabby Gabby).

The movie’s website is here.

Michael Parnell

Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.