If you were lucky enough to be sitting in a cinema on the 19th November 1995 when Toy Story played for the first time, you were witnessing history. Toy Story turns 25 this week and while Pixar’s first feature-length animation would go on to change the game, taking $362 million at the global box office and spawning a $2 billion franchise, its legacy extends beyond its impressive earnings.
Instead, the film is best represented by a generation raised on the film’s life lessons. While many ‘classics’ fail to stand the test of time, becoming faded, dated or irrelevant, Toy Story hasn’t aged a day. Not only does it stand up, but the film’s messages seem more important now than ever.
Here are four life lessons from Toy Story that still hit hard today.
An Enemy Can Become a Friend
At a time when the world is more polarised than ever, it pays to remember that there is always a path back to your fellow man.
Toy Story presents it’s first major life lesson right at the start when Andy brings Buzz Lightyear home from the store. Previously, Woody had been the go-to guy for playtime, but Buzz is fancy, flashy and new.
Andy’s enthusiasm for Buzz fuels Woody’s hatred, and before long, he declares the space ranger his sworn enemy. But when circumstances force them together, it becomes clear they have more in common than they realise.
Eventually, Woody realises that his hate for Buzz is rooted in fear of being replaced, but there is room for both Buzz and Woody in Andy’s life. Talk about a lesson we could all be reminded of.
Never Limit Yourself
One of the best things about Toy Story is that it’s light on cliches, choosing instead to use more specific lessons to get its message across.
However, the film didn’t shy away from cliches entirely, and there are none better than “reach for the sky!”
The catchphrase is part of a series of pre-programmed sayings that spew out of Woody’s voice-box. Reach for the sky becomes a running theme in the Toy Story franchise, as the toys struggle with identity and ambition, balancing their grand ideas with the reality of their world.
Shout out to Woody’s other best catchphrase, “There’s a snake in my boot!”
You’re Not Special, And That’s OK
This may seem like a depressing life lesson, but it’s incredibly impressive that Toy Story, an animated film aimed at children, was game enough to make us confront a universal truth.
None of us special, but we’re all special.
For the early part of the film, Buzz is convinced he is on an all-important mission to meet up with Star Command and save the world. Woody tries to convince Buzz of the harsh reality, telling him, “You. Are. A. Toy! You aren’t the real Buzz Lightyear! You’re an action figure! You are a child’s plaything!”
This scene where Buzz realises he is a toy is the most emotional film scene of all time.
— cj (@CCUJJ) December 25, 2012
But it’s not until Buzz sees a commercial for Buzz Lightyear toys being sold at Al’s Toy Barn, that he can accept the truth.
As far as gut punches, they don’t come much more relatable than this one. Believing you are unique, only to realise you are not is a rite of passage we must all painfully pass through.
Change Is Scary But Inevitable
Woody’s entire existential crisis in Toy Story franchise boils down to Andy growing up and how that change impacts him personally. He struggles to accept that Andy wants to play with Buzz, wants to play with friends, wants to expand his horizons.
While the sudden change bruises Woody’s ego, and he yearns for everything to be how it once was, he can lean on his support network (another life lesson) and enjoy what comes next.
“I can’t stop Andy from growing up,” explains Woody. “But I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Learning to accept that change is scary, but unavoidable is a lesson that we all continue to learn, no matter our age or stage of life.