REEL Conversations Case Study – Toy Story 3: Unwanted Junk or Precious Personalities

REEL Conversations is what I refer to as a ministry of seeing the theme of redemption in modern stories, namely cinema.  This is a brief write-up of a group discussion on the redemptive themes in the movie Toy Story 3.  This was used for a movie night we had at our church.  Enjoy and feel free to share! For a PDF version, click here.

Toy Story 3: Unwanted Junk or Precious Personalities

Toy Story 3 from Disney/Pixar

 “He called us ‘junk’!” yells Mrs. Potato Head in a healthy mix of indignation and shock.  This is the feeling at the very beginning of Toy Story 3.  And that sad assessment of the toys reality send them on a journey to find a new owner, a new home, where they would be appreciated for who they were.

“Welcome to Sunnyside!” This is the siren’s call of a place where they will never have to worry about anyone using them only to discard them later.  At last, the toys have found a place where they are promised to be played with, and never abandoned again.  They are free to be who they are and can enjoy their lives as it was meant to be lived.

Or are they?

Is this really what we want?

In their quest to find happiness they find themselves trapped and enslaved by one who cannot be happy unless others are miserable.  How will they escape?  And what would happen to them if they did?

This movie, the third installment of the hugely successful Disney/Pixar animated film company and Toy Story franchise, delves into the pervasive longing for “home”, for a place to belong and be loved, a place where a toy can be free to be a toy.  They ultimately find their answer not in a perfectly orchestrated system of manufacturing “kids” who replace other “kids” (Sunnyside), but in the loving arms of a “person” who embraces them (Andyà Bonnie).

Questions to consider:

  1. How did the toys feel at the beginning of the movie: like precious toys, or unwanted junk? What made them feel this way?
  2.  Why did they go to Sunnyside?  What did they like about it?
  3.  How do you think Woody felt trying to explain things to the other toys?  Was he right?  Why wouldn’t the others listen to him?
  4.  What happened to them at Sunnyside?  Was Lots-O a good guy or bad guy? What made him so?[1]
  5.  Did you like the end of the movie?  Why or why not?  Was the redemption found in the movie satisfying? Would you say it might even be biblical? (Read quotes below for more on this)

Quotes to consider: From Albert Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview

“God does not make junk, and he does not junk what He has made.”

“To sin, in the Bible, is to serve Satan—or rather, to be enslaved to Satan…Bondage in Scripture has to do with enslavement to a spiritual empire.”

“…redemption:  a freeing of creation from the shackles of sin and evil and a reinstatement of creaturely living as intended by God.”

[1] Think along these lines: “If I can’t be happy, then I’ll make others miserable.” Could we imagine Satan saying this?