Tuesday, June 28, 2011

“Toy Story” as an Allegory for Fatherlessness and the Importance of Family

Quick, how many times do we see Andy’s father in the three “Toy Story” movies?

The correct answer, of course, is zero times. There is no father, or father figure, present in “Toy Story.” The only parental figure in the movie is Andy’s mother, and even she doeCover of Cover via Amazonsn’t play much of a role in any of the movies until “Toy Story 3.”

So where is Andy’s father during the course of the trilogy? Well, the simple answer is we just don’t know. We don’t know if he died, if he and the mother divorced, or if they were even married in the first place.

OK, maybe that’s a bit of a lie. We DO know that Lee Unkrich, who edited the first “Toy Story,” co-directed “Toy Story 2” and solo directed “Toy Story 3,” has said multiple times that it was never intended for Andy’s father to be included in the movie. In an interview with Mary Pols for MSN Movies, Unkrich said, “The decision was made really early on in 'Toy Story' to have Andy's dad not be around. We've never addressed it directly, nor have we given any explanation for where he is or why he's absent.”

Even though Unkrich and the other directors never intended for there to be any mystery behind Andy’s father’s absence, many viewers have surmised that Woody has acted as a surrogate throughout the trilogy.

It makes sense when you think about it. In all three movies, Woody is constantly the voice of reason, telling the other toys they have to be there for Andy. Woody is the one who refuses to go to Sunnyside Day Care in “Toy Story 3” (even though the other toys say that he was always Andy’s favorite and he would be going to college.)

Besides the fact that Woody acts as a surrogate father to Andy, we also see the importance of family throughout the three films, especially in the third. Without spoiling one of the most heart-wrenching and heart-warming scenes in the final (or not?) film for those who haven’t seen it, we see the toys share a touching moment that really solidifies the fact that they are a family, despite their initial differences and disagreements.

Although there isn’t much emphasis on Andy’s actual family, i.e. his mother and sister, we do see the role of family dynamics in the toys’ interactions with each other. And while Andy’s father is a non-entity in the trilogy, the third film drives the point home that Woody has been Andy’s primary father figure for the last 17 years.

Maybe we’ll get a glimpse of Andy’s biological father in “Toy Story 4”?