‼️ Warning! Major spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t seen Toy Story 4 yet. ‼️
Okay, I’ll admit it: I didn’t cry at the end of Toy Story 4.
I could see all this emotion and devastation happening in front of my eyes, but I didn’t cry. Woody was embracing Bo – the love of his life – saying goodbye to his faithful companions of many years, nodding his farewell to Slink, hugging Buzz Lightyear for presumably the last time… And, I didn’t cry.
My main emotion during the climax of Toy Story 4 wasn’t sadness. It was complete disbelief. Weirdly, I could see something like this was coming right from the beginning of the movie. As soon as Woody wasn’t chosen by Bonnie for play time, a pit began to form in my stomach. All the momentum of the film was leading towards this ending, and I could feel it, but I still stubbornly chose not to believe it. Honestly, the toys all seemed much more contented with this ending than I did. “How dare they?” I thought. “How dare they just go along with this?” Woody has Bonnie’s name written on his boot. Woody has a kid. And Bonnie made a promise to Andy! WHAT JUST HAPPENED. I left the cinema feeling betrayed by a cowboy doll and a 4 year old child.
I trusted you, Bonnie.
Needless to say, I did still enjoy the movie. It’s fast-paced, hilarious and beautiful, and I really do admire the direction they took it in. But that ending, though. It’s taking me a while to process.
Seeing it a second time, though, has made me look at the ending differently. In fact, it’s made me look at myself differently. There’s a moment in Toy Story 4 where Woody and Bo are convincing the great Duke Caboom to pull a stunt for them. And this is how Bo changes his mind: she says,
“Be the you who you are today.”
For a second, you can see a lightbulb flicker in Woody’s head. And the same happened for me too.
Toy Story 4 has lots of brave, confident themes. It’s about love, leaps of faith, and loyalty. But it’s also about letting go, and recognising that staying true to your past self isn’t necessarily staying true to yourself. When Woody and Bo are stood on top of the carousel preparing to part ways again, Buzz helps Woody realise that ‘being there for Bonnie’ is a duty that Woody doesn’t have to hold onto anymore. Andy grew up, Bonnie’s growing up, and Woody’s changing too. People can move on, and that’s okay. His past self would have leapt back into that trailer immediately, but he isn’t his past self now. He’s himself!
I think I was guilty of not letting go too. When you think about it, of course Woody is going to be happier living alongside Bo and helping toys around the country find their owners. And of course Bonnie is allowed to have her favourite toys and give Jessie the sheriff badge (in fact, I 100% support that last part in particular). I was stubbornly holding on to the past, and not embracing the joy of the current situation. I didn’t want Woody to leave, but why? Because I wanted things to be how they always were. But that’s impossible.
Anyway, I still didn’t cry at the ending of Toy Story 4 the second time around, but my eyes did begin to well up a bit. Maybe by the third viewing, the disbelief will have subsided and a few tears will be shed.