REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

8 Theories About the Toy Story Franchise

REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

You may have noticed that Andy's evil neighbor Sid returns briefly as the garbageman in Toy Story 3. A theory related to this career choice just popped up on Reddit:

"[Sid is] a guy who just learned that inanimate objects are alive. He's trying to save the toys. He picked the one kind of job where you can rescue those things. And Sid is uniquely equipped to fix those toys that he finds that are broken."

Maybe? Maybe not. If you're not convinced, perhaps one of these interpretations (with varying degrees of plausibility) will change the way you see the Toy Story movies:

1. Andy’s mom previously owned Jessie.

The most recent Toy Story theory to go viral is courtesy of Jon Negroni, known for the “Pixar Theory” that every Pixar film takes place in the same universe. Negroni has recently written an article claiming that Andy’s mom is the Emily that Jessie sings about in “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2. Andy’s mom is never given a name in the films, so she could easily be Emily. Negroni also notes that Andy owns a cowboy hat, but its much more similar to Jessie’s hat than Woody’s. It is also extremely similar to a hat that can be seen on Emily’s bed in a flashback, so it plausibly could have been passed down through the family and ended up as Andy’s hat. Plus, Emily’s face is never shown, but she does have hair that is a similar length and color to the hair of Andy’s mom.

2. Andy’s parents are going through a divorce.

This theory has long persisted, but it seems to date back to a blog post by Jess Nevins. Andy’s father never is mentioned or seen in any of the Toy Story films. Not only is he not around, but he seems to have disappeared without a trace. In Andy’s house, there are family photographs, but only of Molly, Andy, and their mom. Their mom also never wears a wedding ring. Interestingly, in Toy Story, Molly is also only one, so whatever happened between Andy’s parents must have happened shortly before the film begins. The same film shows the family moving into a smaller house, which often happens after a divorce.

3. Or Andy’s father is dead.

There's a popular Reddit thread that explores the possibility that Andy’s father is dead rather than estranged. One user believes, “Andy’s dad was a cop who was killed in the line of duty. Not only is he attached to two male toys, but both represent some form of law enforcement.” Although this theory doesn’t have an answer to why Andy’s mom would have taken down the photographs of her deceased husband, it does better explain the absence of Andy’s father at his son’s birthday party and later departure to college.

Pixar story supervisor Matthew Luhn has responded to the question of Andy’s father. He claims, “If there was a dad in Toy Story, the boy would not have had such a need for a doll who represents a kind of authority figure, like Buzz.” This apparently was so obviously necessary to the story that the actual circumstances were never discussed further by the creators of the film.

4. Toy Story 3 is an analogy for the Holocaust.

Film theorist Jordan Hoffman has noted many parallels between the journey of the toys in the film with the victims of the Holocaust. For example, Buzz Lightyear recommends they hide in the attic, as Anne Frank and her family did. Sunnyside Daycare could represent a work camp. Also, the toys view being thrown away as a constant threat, which would result in them being burned alive. This one has been previously investigated here at mental_floss. We learned that Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich once stated, “The Holocaust was never anything that was discussed in the making of [Toy Story 3].”

5. Toy Story 3 has Marxist undertones.

This theory also comes from Jordan Hoffman. In this interpretation, Andy stands in for the bourgeoisie: He comes from a rich family, he’s moving on to higher education, and he’s obsessed with his belongings. Therefore, his toys are the proletariat. The most compelling argument here is probably that Andy puts literal labels on his toys, which is a symbol of exploitation. Hoffman also claims that Barbie represents Marxist philosopher Rosa Luxemburg. Presumably, he believes this to be the case because of Barbie’s line, “Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from threat of force."

See Also: 10 Rejected Titles for Toy Story

6. Toy Story is an analogy for the director’s experience with Disney.

Getty Images

Before creating Toy Story, director John Lasseter was once fired from Disney for pushing a computer-animated method at a time when the company wanted to stick to hand-drawn films. Along with a few colleagues, Lasseter started to work on a computer-animated version of The Brave Little Toaster, so he lost his job. According to this theory, Toy Story is Lasseter’s way of reconciling those differences in beliefs. Woody represents the traditional animation route and Buzz represents a newer, most technologically-advanced method. At the end of the film, the two put aside their differences to make a child happy, just as Disney and Pixar eventually would do for their audiences.

7. Toy Story 3 contains Illuminati messages.

The Internet and Illuminati conspiracy theories go together like Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (or else there probably wouldn’t be extensive blogs dedicated to the Illuminati’s connection to Boy Meets World). Conspiracy theorists who write about the Illuminati usually focus on the secret society’s power to influence the United States. In the film, Lotso supposedly represents the Illuminati and their manipulation. For example, he brainwashes Buzz Lightyear into becoming a spy. One line about Lotso in particular stands out to these theorists: “He’s made us into a pyramid and he put himself on top.” This is interpreted as a reference to the pyramid and eye symbol that represents the Illuminati.

See Also: 8 Creative Interpretations of Groundhog Day

8. The Walking Dead is based on the Toy Story trilogy.

The YouTube video “Zombie Story” properly lays out the similarities between the plot of the hit television show and Toy Story. For example, both star a sheriff who’s “the leader of a motley group thrown together by fate, living in a world full of beings that want to chew them up or tear them apart.” Both have cowgirls, barns, jailbreaks ... the list goes on and on. The video also contains some very convincing side-by-side comparisons of frames from Toy Story and frames from The Walking Dead

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Shout! Factory
10 Surprising Facts About Mr. Mom
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

John Hughes penned the script for 1983's Mr. Mom, a comedy about a family man named Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) who loses his job. To ensure their three kids are taken care of, his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), goes back to work—leaving Jack to fight off a vacuum cleaner and learn why it's never a good idea to feed chili to a baby.

In 1982, Keaton turned in a star-making role in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, but Mr. Mom marked the first time he headlined a movie, and it launched his career. Hughes had written National Lampoon's Vacation, which—oddly enough—was released in theaters the weekend after Mr. Mom. But Hughes himself was still a relative unknown, as it would be another year before he entered the teen flick phase of his career, which would make him iconic.

In the meantime, Mr. Mom hit home for a lot of viewers, as the economy was on the downturn and more and more women were entering (or reentering) the workforce. But some people think that the movie's ending—which sees the couple revert to traditional gender roles—sidelined the movie's message. Still, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Mr. Mom remains an ahead-of-its-time comedy classic.

1. IT'S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Mr. Mom producer Lauren Shuler Donner came across a funny article John Hughes had written for National Lampoon. Based on that, she contacted him and the two became friends. “One day, he was telling me that his wife had gone down to Arizona and he was in charge of the two boys and he didn’t know what he was doing,” Donner told IGN. “It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing. He said, ‘Do you think this would make a good movie?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, this is really funny.’ So he said, ‘Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?’ So I looked at it and I said, ‘This is great! Let’s do it!’ We kind of developed it ourselves.” In the book Movie Moguls Speak, Donner mentioned how Hughes “had never been to a grocery store, he had never operated a vacuum cleaner. John was so ignorant, that in his ignorance, he was hilarious.”

The players involved with the movie told Donner and Hughes they thought it should be a TV movie. Hughes had a TV deal with Aaron Spelling, who came aboard to executive produce. “Then the players involved were upset because John was writing out of Chicago instead of L.A.,” Donner said in Movie Moguls Speak. “They fired John and brought in a group of TV writers. In the end, John and I were muscled out. It was a good movie, but if you ever read John’s original script for Mr. Mom, it’s far better.”

2. JOHN HUGHES REJECTED THE IDEA OF DIRECTING MR. MOM.

Stan Dragoti ended up directing the film, but only after Hughes turned it down, because he preferred to make his movies in Chicago, not Hollywood. “I don’t like being around the people in the movie business,” Hughes told Roger Ebert. “In Hollywood, you spend all of your time having lunch and making deals. Everybody is trying to shoot you down. I like to get my actors out here where we can make our movies in privacy.” Hughes remained in Chicago and filmed his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, there.

3. MICHAEL KEATON GOT THE ROLE BECAUSE OF NIGHT SHIFT.

In 1982’s Night Shift, Keaton’s character works at a morgue and starts a prostitution ring with co-worker Henry Winkler. Donner had an agent friend, Laurie Perlman, who represented the not-yet-famous actor. She contacted Donner and pitched Keaton to her. “’Look, I represent this guy who is really funny. Would you meet with him?’" Donner recalled of the conversation. "So I met with him. Usually I don’t like to do this unless we’re casting, but I met with him because she was my friend. And then she said, ‘You have to see this movie Night Shift that he’s in.’ So I went to see Night Shift, and midway through I couldn’t wait to get out of that theater to give Mr. Mom to Michael Keaton. Fortunately, he liked it."

Keaton told Grantland that he turned down one of the main roles in Splash to play Jack Butler. “I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift,” he said. “I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. So then Mr. Mom came along. So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things.”

4. THE FILM BROKE NEW GROUND.

Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Frederick Koehler, and Martin Mull in Mr. Mom (1983)
Shout! Factory

In 1983, more women stayed at home than worked, so it was a novelty for a man to be a stay-at-home dad. Today, an estimated 1.4 million men are stay-at-home dads, and 7 million men are their children's primary caregiver. “Mr. Mom became part of the vernacular,” Donner told Newsweek. “Mr. Mom represented a segment of men who were at home dealing with the kids who, up until then, really hadn’t been heard from. That’s what really told me about the power of film, because it spoke for a lot of men. It also helped women, because I think that women sometimes, if you’re a housewife, you’re not really appreciated for what you do. This sort of made women feel better about what they did because they knew that men were understanding it.”

5. TODAY, “MR. MOM” IS CONSIDERED A PEJORATIVE TERM.

More than 30 years after the film’s release, stay-at-home dads feel the term “Mr. Mom” should die. The National At-Home Dad Network launched a campaign to terminate the phrase and instead have people refer to men as “Dad.” In 2014 Lake Superior State University voted to banish “Mr. Mom” from the lexicon.

“At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after declaring “Mr. Mom is dead.”

6. TERI GARR DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS A MESSAGE MOVIE.

The movie redefined gender roles, but when the producers pitched the premise to Garr, they hid the plot reversal. “They just told me it was about a guy who does the work that a woman does, because it’s so easy,” she told The A.V. Club. “And I went, ‘Oh, yeah. Ha ha.’ It’s so easy. All the women I know who stay home and take care of their kids, they go, ‘Oh yeah, this is easy.’ Hmm.”

7. MARTIN MULL IMPROVISED THE “220, 221” LINE.

The quote everyone remembers from the movie comes from Jack, holding a chainsaw, standing next to Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) and discussing what kind of wiring Jack will use in renovating the house: “220, 221, whatever it takes,” Jack says.

“We’re doing the scene and it was okay,” Keaton told Esquire. “And I remember saying to the prop guy, ‘Go find me a chainsaw.’ When he comes back with it, he says, ‘You wanna wear these?’ And he holds up some goggles. I go, ‘Yeah.’ You know, they make me look crazy. And when Martin shows up, I know I should look under control, I’m not sweating it. I’m a dude. So we’re standing there, Martin pulls me aside and says, ‘You know what you ought to say? When I ask about the wiring, you oughta just deadpan: ‘220, 221.’ I died. It was perfect. I may have added ‘whatever it takes.’ But it was his.”

“That was a little ad-lib that we just threw in, but every carpenter or construction person I’ve ever worked with, they’re always quoting that line from Mr. Mom,” Mull told The A.V. Club.

8. MR. MOM OUTGROSSED HUGHES’S OTHER 1983 SUMMER MOVIE—VACATION.

Mr. Mom only opened on 126 screens on July 22, 1983, but managed to gross $947,197 during its opening weekend. Once the film went wide a month later to 1235 screens, it hit number one at the box office and spent five weeks at the top. By the end of its run, the film had grossed just shy of $65 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 1983 (just between Staying Alive and Risky Business). National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes’s other film that summer, came out July 29 and ended its theatrical run with $61,399,552 (at its height, it showed on 1248 screens). Vacation finished the year in 11th place.

9. THE MOVIE LED TO HUGHES BEING CALLED “A PURVEYOR OF HORNY SEX COMEDIES.”

During a 1986 interview with Seventeen magazine, Molly Ringwald asked the writer-director why he never showed teen sex in Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. “In Sixteen Candles, I figured it would only be gratuitous to show Samantha and Jake in anything more than a kiss,” he said. “The kiss is the most beautiful moment. I was really amused when someone once called me a ‘purveyor of horny sex comedies.’ He listed The Breakfast Club and Mr. Mom in parentheses. I thought, ‘What kind of sex?’ Yes, in Mr. Mom there’s a baby in a bathtub and you see its bare butt.”

10. MR. MOM WAS MADE INTO A TV MOVIE AFTER ALL.

In the beginning, producers wanted Mr. Mom to be a TV movie, not a feature film. But a year after the film came out in theaters, ABC produced a TV movie called Mr. Mom, with the same characters and premise. Barry Van Dyke played Jack and Rebecca York played Caroline. A People magazine review of the movie stated: “They and their three kids are immediately likable … But it goes downhill from there as the script lobotomizes all its characters. Here’s a textbook case in how TV takes a cute idea—and a script that does have some good lines—and leeches the wit out of it.”

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Central Press/Getty Images
Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
Central Press/Getty Images
Central Press/Getty Images

Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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