SPOILER WARNING: Do not read this until you've seen the film.
The third film in Pixar's Toy Story series is the most dogmatic to date. It's the story of mankind's relationship with God, and its position on how humans should relate to the almighty couldn't be clearer. The script may as well have been written by John Calvin himself.
The God in this film goes by the name of Andy, and at the beginning of the movie it's established that he is about to move on to universes new, leaving behind the realm he has ruled over up until now. AndyGod's problem is that his current universe is populated with toys that he has loved and cherished throughout his existence, and before he can leave he has to decide what to do with them. He has four choices: he can take them with him to his new domain; he can hand them over to a different god (so okay, maybe the script isn't as Calvinist as I said above); he can consign them to a worldly attic purgatory; or he can send them to Hell. He chooses the third option for all the toys except his favourite, Woody, with whom he is well-pleased.
Woody is a sanctimonious prick who spends his entire life reminding all his colleagues of AndyGod's greatness and infallibility and generally bossing people around. When AndyGod decides to send the rest of the toys to purgatory, Woody supports Him totally -- and we must assume that had AndyGod decided instead to send them to Hell, Woody would be quoting Romans 3:10 as justification and telling them to suck it up because the potter can do whatever he wants with his clay.
When, by mistake, the mother of AndyGod sets the toys on a path towards Hell, Woody rushes to save them. But why? Is it because he's concerned for his colleagues, or because the Law of his Lord has been interfered with? I think it's probably the latter, because Woody is a dick.
The Other Toys
When the toys realise that they're destined for Hell they (understandably) become angry and decide to reject AndyGod and go off to find other gods to serve. Woody remonstrates with them, telling them they should remain faithful and that it was all a mistake; but under the leadership of the Female Temptress Jesse, the others won't listen to him. As far as they're concerned whether their deity has abandoned them to Hell or Purgatory makes little difference; the issue is that they've been abandoned, while Woody has not.
When they all arrive in a kind of Paradise for toys, a place where they will be played with all day long (which after all, is what they were designed for), Woody is still griping and insisting that they return to AndyGod's house and get themselves up into Attic Purgatory where they belong, while he swans off to whatever exciting new place AndyGod is going to. The other Toys again ignore him, looking forward to a new life of hedonism...
And this, of course, proves to be their downfall.
The paradise they think they have discovered is in fact ruled by an atheist; an evil, strawberry-smelling bear who has rejected all gods and has set himself up as a mortal god on earth. He's a pink furry Stalin (I think they even refer to him as "Uncle" at one point). The message is clear: if you reject the god that owns you, you have only yourself to blame if you end up being tortured in a totalitarian gulag.
The film could have ended here, but audiences may have been left with a view of God as cold and unconcerned with his universe, so the story carries on. Woody continues his righteous quest to be reunited with his Master, but then he gets distracted by feelings of compassion for his colleagues. Foolishly, he tries to help them, not realising that by attempting to interfere with destiny he's only going to make things worse.
His efforts lead the toys to the very edge of Hell, which they only escape by means of a Ludicrum Ex Machina. The atheist Lotso, of course, who has by now proved his evil atheist character beyond a doubt, is not so fortunate and is consigned to an eternal punishment direct from the mind of Dante.
Once the atheist villain has been disposed of the film can end nicely with the redemption of not only foolish Woody and the ungrateful toys but also AndyGod, who is finally shown indulging his merciful side.
And we can all walk out of the cinema saying "Ah, see? God is great after all. And blimey those 3D specs are uncomfortable, hope that fad burns itself out ASAFP."
Old Town, San Diego
1 day ago