What power a children’s movie can have! C.S. Lewis has remarked upon how, by writing for younger people, you can say so much more. And Pixar has fully grasped the notion. Every Toy Story movie goes further, building more upon the previous mythos. This latest iteration, Toy Story 4, gets deep into the existential philosophy of toys. What is a toy, and what is a toy’s purpose in life? Only adults wonder about this kind of thing. At the end someone asks Forky, the trash item transformed into a beloved toy, “How did we become alive?” And Forky wisely answers, “I dunno!”
But what interests me today is what this movie actually can say to a child: the main market for the film, after all.And this message is even better. It is that change is not only inevitable, but good. You will grow and change, and you can embrace it without fear. You will go to kindergarten, go through puberty, go on. It’s natural. Even Woody the Cowboy does it. And it’s fine. You will be fine.
What a grand and important thing for a little one to absorb! If a kid can learn to step forward into life with confidence and joy, that’s one of the best things she can learn. Are there other children’s works with this theme? Suart Little comes to mind, but not very many others. Most plots involve going back again, Dorothy Gale clicking her heels as she murmurs, “There’s no place like home.” No, there isn’t. But you’re going to leave home some day. Go for it, to infinity and beyond!