When I first heard about a Toy Story 4 movie being made, I was terrified. So often, sequels end up tainting the original movie and what was so great about it. Somehow, Toy Story was able to make equally as good, maybe even better, movies a second and third time. That’s almost unheard of. Can they do it again though? Will Toy Story 4 be just as wonderful — or will it simply be overkill?
Toy Story means a lot to so many of us. When it first came out, we were just kids — kids who owned toys just like Andy did, toys like Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang. When I watched Toy Story, I saw Andy playing pretend with his toys the same way I did, and I imagined my toys going on courageous adventures when I wasn’t around, just like Andy’s toys did. I was a weird kid, and my imagination was my greatest friend. My toys and I spent hours creating worlds together, taking over my entire room with our adventures. I was, as probably a lot of us were, a real life Toy Story.
When Toy Story 2 came out, we were all still young. We had not yet been exposed to the potential horror and destruction that sequels can bring upon an original movie. When Toy Story 2 was just as good as the first one, it was no surprise to us. It was just the next installment in the lives of our favorite toys, and now we had new toy characters to love, too. I sang, “When She Loved Me” to myself and hoped my toys would never feel that way about me. Note: I might be listening to this song as I write this. I might put it on replay.
With Toy Story 3, we were all of course nervous. We were older at that point, but I’d played with my dolls until I was at least 14 (probably 15, but that’s our secret), and I was still oh so invested. We’d seen Bring It On 4, 5, 6, etc. We knew what could go wrong. I remember sitting in the theater with my friends (because of course I saw it in theaters), bracing myself. When the iconic scene of our favorite characters facing a fiery death occurred, there were definitely little kids in the theater crying out of fear. We were crying for our childhood. At the end, when the toys find a new home and the cycle of child and toy friendship continues, we finally got the closure we needed. Woody and the gang would be fine. They would always be played with. Toy Story 3 came out the summer before my friends and I were slated to start college. It couldn’t have been timed better. We were going off to college, but it was going to be ok. Toy Storysaid it was going to be ok.
As a photographer at Walt Disney World, I got the chance to work with and take photos of Woody, Jessie, Buzz, and even Lotso. I got to see the smiles on kid’s faces as Woody and Jessie gave them hugs. I got the see the laughter when kids pushed the buttons on Buzz Lightyear’s chest and he struck a pose. I got to see the wonder in kids eyes when they smelled Lotso and he did indeed smell like strawberries. I danced to “Shout” with Buzz and had Lotso try to steal my camera. These characters are real, and they are important.
And now, Toy Story 4 looms on the horizon. The ending to the trilogy was so perfect. We felt good about it. What will Toy Story 4 bring? I don’t want an endless train of sequels for this story. This story of toys is important. It isn’t to be messed with.
When I first heard about it, I was against it. I still am, a little. Don’t mess with a good thing, right? But I read a quote on ABC News from director John Lasseter, who directed the first two movies, that said, “We love these characters so much; they are like family to us. We don’t want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what’s gone before.” And so now, I am listening.
If the directors care as much about these characters as we do, if they know how much they’ve meant to us over the years, and if they feel the same way about them, then ok. I guess, with an anxious heart, I can trust them.
To Disney and Pixar: You’ve never let me down before.Toy Storyis a movie that made everything seem ok to so many people, including me.Toy Storylet me know that my imagination was nothing to be ashamed of. It was ok to play with my toys, and it was ok to eventually give them away. Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3 all gave me that. Toy Story 4? My hopes are high, my fingers are crossed, and I anxiously await 2017.
My childhood is once again in your hands. Proceed with caution. This means a lot.