Toy Story 4 is bright, colourful, funny, exciting and engaging from the opening scene to the closing credits (don’t leave too early or you’ll miss even more funny and poignant scenes). It is a family film in the widest possible sense of that word, with something for everyone, whatever your age and life experiences.
Ostensibly it follows the familiar simple story arc of toys going missing and being rescued. But this film also delves more deeply into themes of rejection and restored hope. From Gabby Gabby, a doll who was discarded because of her disability, to Duke Caboom who was unwanted because he didn’t live up to the media image, the film explores what it feels like to be devalued and rejected. These mini storylines are resolved as the toys find a restored hope. Gabby Gabby develops empathy for a lost child and, in turn, finds the total acceptance she sought. Duke Caboom develops a renewed confidence in his abilities and rediscovers the value he had lost.
Most significantly, wrapped around these many short stories is the overall narrative of Forky, a toy created out of rubbish by a little girl who needed a friend. In contrast to the others, Forky is not rejected by others, but by himself. “I’m not a toy”, “I’m trash” he says as he repeatedly throws himself into rubbish bins. How is that story resolved? By Forky discovering that he is unique and beautiful in his own way, because his value does not come from what others think of him, or even what he thinks of himself, but from the fact that he was created for a purpose and is loved by his creator.
At a time in our culture when many are struggling to find a sense of self-worth, perhaps there is much we can all learn from Forky’s journey of self-discovery.