Culture

The Toy Story Theory (From The Guy Who Brought You The Pixar Theory)

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Last summer a friend of mine shared with me an article in which writer Jon Negroni explained his insane ideas regarding the connections between the films in the Pixar canon. I analyzed it and shared it here at PJ Lifestyle.

Well, it just so happens that Negroni is back – this time he has discovered the true identity of Andy’s mom in the Toy Story films. And this theory just might make some sense.

Negroni’s idea centers around Andy’s cowboy hat, which looks an awful lot like Woody’s hat, with one exception:

Notice anything weird about the hat? It looks nothing like the hat worn by his favorite toy, Woody. Why wouldn’t Andy wear a hat that was brown?

He makes the observation that we’ve seen the hat in one other place: Toy Story 2. Cowgirl Jessie wears an almost identical hat. The only difference? A white band above the brim. Jessie’s previous owner, Emily, had a similar, child-sized hat.

Emily, Jessie’s previous owner, wears that hat throughout the “When She Loved Me” sequence in Toy Story 2. The sequence clearly takes place in the 60s and 70s, as evidenced by the decoration and qualities of Emily’s things.

Negroni notes that, though Andy’s hat lacks the white band, there is a faded area on the hat exactly where a similar band could have been.

Are you tracking with me here? The perceptive Negroni notes another fascinating link between the first two films. Emily, Jessie’s first owner, looks an awful lot like a younger version of – you guessed it – Andy’s mom!

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Negroni brings it all home (and points out what has become painfully obvious to those of us who have read thus far):

…yes, Andy’s mom is Emily, Jessie’s previous owner.

Now you may be wondering if Emily/Andy’s mom noticed that Andy suddenly had a toy she once had as a child. Think of it this way: how would you react if you saw that your kid had a toy that looked like one that you had? You probably wouldn’t assume they’re the same, even if you’re in a Pixar movie.

Now, you might think Negroni would leave his thoughts there, where those of us who immerse ourselves in Disney and Pixar could appreciate another reward from the filmmakers to their loyal fans, or where even a casual Pixar fan would think, “That’s cool!” and leave it at that.

Nope. He had to tie in some overarching idea of redemption to the story:

The theory is that in a twist of fate, Emily (Andy’s mom) loved a cowboy toy but gave it away during her adolescence. Her son would grow to love a cowboy toy as well, in a weird way that resembles the strong love she once had. She passed the hat down to him, and as destiny would have it, Andy would one day receive Jessie, as well. This would redeem his mother’s abandoning of her, making Emily’s story come full-circle.

That’s where he lost me. Some plot twists (or Easter eggs, if you will) are their own reward. As I noted with the Pixar Theory, the folks at Pixar have made a neat game of rewarding viewers and fans who are paying attention. They’re fun “aha” moments – no more, no less. At least, that’s what I think about the possible connection between Emily and Andy.