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The narrative of Toy Story has enchanted audiences since its release in 1995. Both adults and children alike have enjoyed this adventurous, heartwarming, and nostalgic movie. Young audiences relate to the dream of having one’s toys come to life, and older audiences are reminded of a simpler time in their lives that were full of joy and play. The screenplay of Toy Story expertly uses dialogue, images and music to express themes of friendship and childhood innocence that draw audiences of all ages to fall in love with this beautiful visual narrative.
The opening scene of Toy Story takes place in a child’s bedroom full of toys. The movie’s theme song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” begins to play. This song is a very appropriate choice because not only does the tune and beat set a warm and happy feeling to the opening sequence, but it also leads into the theme of friendship and reminds audiences that a toy can be a child’s best friend in the land of make-believe. The audience is introduced to the character of Andy, the little boy who inhabits the room. The audience sees him playing with his toys, specifically with a cowboy doll who he refers to as Woody. This image would immediately cause audience members of all ages to reminisce and relate to playing with their own favorite childhood toys. The theme song playing in the background emphasizes how many young children like Andy see their toys as friends. Andy then exits his bedroom and the toys are left alone. They are shown blinking, moving, and coming to life as they begin to interact with each other. Every member of the audience would remember a time during their childhood when they wondered what their toys were up to while they were out of the room. Children in the audience will interpret this scene as the confirmation that their speculations about their toys really being alive are absolutely correct. The toys consult among each other as they worry about Andy’s impending birthday party and the new toys that he may receive. Whedon, Stanton, Cohen & Sokolow describe the toys’ fears over being replaced by a new or better toy. They are shown to be a strong community where each toy looks out for the others, building strong friendships between them (11). They want to look out for each other during this stressful time, which is shown through lines such as when Woody reassures his fellow toys by saying “ Hey listen, no one is getting replaced. This is Andy we are talking about” (Whedon, Stanton, Cohen & Sokolow, 12). This furthers the screenplay’s overall theme of friendship by emphasizing the strong relationships between each of the toys.
Whedon, Stanton, Cohen & Sokolow describe the toys as showing dismay when Andy receives a new action figure named Buzz Lightyear (20). Andy begins to play with Buzz and ignore his favorite toy and best friend Woody. Jealousy begins to grow in Woody which is shown through sarcastic lines such as “That’s enough, I know we are all impressed with Andy’s new toy” (Whedon, Stanton, Cohen & Sokolow, 28). Woody’s jealousy comes to a climax when he causes Buzz to be pushed out the bedroom window. The other toys become angry with Woody for his jealous actions and the strong friendships seen earlier in the toy community become strained. This is shown through lines such as directed at Woody by the other toys such as “Where is your honor dirtbag? You are an absolute disgrace!” (Whedon, Stanton, Cohen & Sokolow, 45). This sudden attitude of animosity in the toy community juxtaposes the theme of friendship to highlight friendship verses enmity to audiences.
Woody embarks on an adventure to retrieve Buzz and save his relationships with the other toys. As they encounter struggles together such as being left behind at the gas station, being abducted by the sadistic neighborhood boy named Sid, and struggling to return to Andy before he moves away and they are lost forever, Woody and Buzz begin to bond. Whedon, Stanton, Cohen & Sokolow show this growing bond by the way Buzz and Woody risk themselves to protect each other such as when Woody refuses to let Buzz be taken by Sid without being there to help rescue him (63). By the time Buzz and Woody return to Andy safely they have developed a caring relationship that further supports the screenplay’s theme of friendship. The ending scene in the screenplay displays Christmas morning while the toys watch Andy open his Christmas presents. Whedon, Stanton, Cohen & Sokolow describe the attitude of the toys as excitement instead of fear (123). This scene contrasts the toys anxiousness over Andy opening birthday toys in the past. They have become secure in their friendships with each other and their relationship to Andy. They no longer have a fear of being replace but instead welcome new toys to build new friendships with.
Whedon, Stanton, Cohen & Sokolow expertly build the theme of friendship into Toy Story’s screenplay by using the elements of dialogue, images and music. The theme song “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” associates audiences to the movie and the friendship-filled narrative it displays. The images used throughout the screenplay connect audiences to their childhoods and to the times when they made friends with their own toys. The dialogue presented in the screenplay reveals the friendships between the toys through all of their adventures. The screenplay of Toy Story was highly affective in drawing audiences to watch and love this visual narrative that promotes friendship and provides a nostalgic flashback to a time when toys came alive in the imagination.
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