Slouching · Towards · Bethlehem
In Toy Story, Who Was Andy's Father?
It's not like I want
to spend time thinking about the following. I've got a steampunk novel to plot. But my son Henry--that's him on the right--loves Toy Story
We watch a part of it every night before bed. Have done since we bought an iPad. So I've seen Toy Story
every night for over three months now, and while it still retains its ability to charm, I have to admit to not paying full attention to it, or letting my mind wander...
...which is how I came to ask the question, Who Is Andy's Father?
You'll note that there aren't any pictures of him in the house. Don't believe? Go look. I can wait.
See? Lots of pictures of Andy and Molly, individually and together, and one or two of Andy's mom, Mrs. Davis, but none of Andy's dad. Why is that, do you think?
The obvious answer is that Andy's mom took them down. Why would she do that?
Let's think this through. Andy's father never appears in any of the films. He's never even mentioned. If Andy's mom was still married to "Mr. Davis," that wouldn't be the case. He's deliberately absent from the films because he's not part of the family any more.
If he had died, there would still be pictures of him in the house. Divorce is a possibility, but I don't believe Andy's mom would have removed all the photos of Andy's father just because of the divorce, not least because of how Andy might react to that. If there was a divorce, then Andy's mom won custody, and while Andy is clearly happy with his mom, it'd only be natural for Andy to want something of his father, if only a picture.
The remaining alternative is that Andy's father abandoned Andy's mom, and Andy, and Molly. This would explain why Andy's mom removed all the pictures of Andy's father. It would also explain why Andy's mom is moving the family to a smaller house during Toy Story
1. Go ahead and compare the house at the beginning of the film with the one in the final scene--post-move house is smaller. it also explains why Andy's mom is bringing so little furniture to the new house--take a look at the contents of the moving van in TS1, there's practically no furniture in it, and the time from when the movers arrive in TS1 to when they leave can't be much more than an hour. Not only is the new house smaller and needs less furniture than the old house, but Andy's mom, having been abandoned by the former Mr. Davis, is in all probability facing some difficult financial times and is selling not just the house but some of the furniture.
But the matter of "Mr. Davis" doesn't end there. Consider Woody. We know from Toy Story
2 that he's a valuable and rare collectible. How did he end up in Andy's hands?
(The formidable James Wallis, creator of the wonderful, sui generis
roleplaying game The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchhausen
, recently wrote about this
on his blog
. I had this essay in mind long before Mr. Wallis wrote his piece, but what he wrote--which was, erm, far from his best work, shall we say--impelled me to finally set this all down).
According to Andy's mom, Woody is an old family toy. But if that's really
the case, why is he in mint condition? If he's been played with before, by a previous generation of Davis children, why does he look like he's fresh out of the box? And why does he act like Andy is his first owner?
We have to assume that Woody was, indeed, an old Davis family toy. The logical assumption is that he was Mr. Davis' before he was Andy's. (We could extrapolate other ways in which Woody joined the Davis family, but Woody being Mr. Davis' toy is the least unlikely). But how did Woody remain mint if Mr. Davis played with him? And if Mr. Davis played with him, why doesn't Woody remember him? We know the other toys remember their previous owners--Jessie remembers Emily, Lots-O-Huggin' Bear remembers Daisy--why doesn't Woody remember Mr. Davis?
If--as I think is a reasonable assumption--Mr. Davis abandoned Mrs. Davis, Andy, and Molly, he did so recently. Molly's only a year old, and it's probable that she is Mr. Davis' daughter, which means that Mr. Davis abandoned Mrs. Davis when she was pregnant or had a one year old to raise. Which ain't cool, at all, and hints that Mr. Davis might be worse than just a deadbeat dad, he might be a genuinely Bad guy.
There's also the matter of Sid Philips, the psycho boy next door in Toy Story 1. Sid is disturbed in the ways that Andy is not...but they both have vivid imaginations when it comes to toys, both are resilient (notice how quickly Sid recovers from the disappointment of the sudden rainstorm in TS1), both are energetic, and while Sid is cruel to his toys he loves his dog Scud.
Could Sid and Andy be...related? Sid looks nothing like Andy, but then, Andy looks nothing like Molly. During TS1 Sid is 10 years old and Andy is 6. Did Mr. Davis abandon Mrs. Davis because Mrs. Davis discovered Mr. Davis' affair, previous or ongoing, with Mrs. Phillips?
Okay, perhaps not--perhaps that is a stretch. But the point about Mr. Davis being a rotter remains.
Now, as we see in TS1, when toys are tortured, they are traumatized. Only one of Sid's toys can communicate in any way, and none of them have the ability to make facial expressions, whereas most of Andy's toys can talk and move their faces. In the world of Toy Story
, as in ours, torture leaves a permanent mark on its victims.
But there are many different types of trauma, and some are more subtle than others.
Consider Woody's relationship with Andy. Woody is devoted to Andy. Fixated on him, really. Is willing to do anything to get back to him (as we see in TS2 & TS3), refuses to admit that Andy has outgrown him (in TS3)...I'm not sure that "obsession" is too strong a word for Woody's devotion to Andy. Woody's feelings for Andy are clearly much stronger, much more obsessive, than what any of Andy's other toys feel for Andy.
Why? Why does Woody not seem to have any memories of his previous owners, but is fixated on his current one?
Because his previous owner did something to cause some trauma in Woody, I think, a trauma which gave Woody either traumatic amnesia or a deeply-embedded case of denial of memories as well as a case of idealization (in the psychological, defense-mechanism sense) of Andy. Woody can't remember (doesn't want to remember) his previous owner, but his current owner, Andy, is wonderful, worth following to infinity and beyond (idealized owner, safe owner, everything's okay with Andy, everything's fine).
Obviously Woody was never tortured by his previous owner--Woody couldn't have been, not and be in mint condition. But he could have witnessed
torture. That would certainly qualify as traumatic.
Woody is fixated on Andy. But he actually considered abandoning him for a new life with Jessie, Bullseye, and Stinky Pete. It wasn't the lure of the museum which temporarily changed Woody's mind--it couldn't have been. No, it must have been the prospect of a reunion with Woody's toy family.
Reunion? Yes, reunion. Who do you think Woody saw being tortured by his first owner?
I'm sure there were other toys that Woody's first owner tortured. But I think it's safe to suppose that the rest of the Round-Up Gang were some of the victims there. The reason Woody escaped the torture? Woody's previous owner just never got to him--moved on to other things, and left Woody in the attic, in the dark, wondering when he was next to go under the magnifying glass or scissors...in the dark for years, for decades, until he is given to Andy, wonderful, kind Andy.
And so the obsession is created.
I've painted a dark picture of Mr. Davis, Woody's original owner: abandoner of wife and children, possible adulterer, torturer of toys. This begs the question: who is Mr. Davis?
Andy was born in 1989 (6 in 1995, the year of TS1). In TS1 I'd put Mrs. Davis at around 40 (which is how old Laurie Metcalf, the voice of Mrs. Davis, was in 1995), and we can assume that Mr. Davis is roughly the same age, meaning he was born in the early/mid-1950s. Woody's tv show lasted from 1946 to 1957, so--assuming Mr. Davis was given Woody & the Round-Up Gang in the last year possible, and when Mr. Davis was young--we can put Mr. Davis' birth year in the 1951-1953 range, which would have made him 35-37 when Andy was born.
Mr. Davis: born in 1951-1953, a torturer of toys, a man who abandons his wife and children. We have the makings of a true villain in Mr. Davis. So who was he? He would have been active in his twenties during the 1970s and still alive, though temporarily settled to a suburban lifestyle in his forties.
Who fits this profile? What villain of tv, movie, or comics could this apply to?Edit
: I love Marcus Rowland's suggestion: Dexter Morgan!
Perhaps Mr. Davis spent a huge amount of money buying a mint-condition, never-been played with Woody, similar to the one he had as a child. When Mrs. Davis confronts him about the purchase, Mr. Davis covers, saying it was a gift for Andy, and he got a good deal on it.
It was not the first time Mr. Davis lied to his wife about the money he spent, nor would it be the last...
This doesn't fit with your later speculation, but re: the earlier parts, maybe Mr. Davis bought Woody as a collectors item and valued him as such. Mrs. Davis could have taken the mint condition toy out of its box and given it to Andy to play with as a form of revenge.
That does fit the known data, certainly. We'd have to ignore Mrs. Davis' comment about Woody being an old family toy, but otherwise your theory is sound, and significantly kinder to all involved than mine. :-)
The "old family toy" comment could still refer to an old family mint-in-box toy. Just because it's called a toy doesn't mean it was played with. Besides, a jilted wife would easily refer to "my ex's old collectable" as a toy. And if Woody had been in his box for so long, look at the other Buzz's. None of them move. Prospector is the only toy that moves when it's in it's box, and even that is false because we know later that he does indeed move out of the box.
I'm not sure your case regarding the lack of photos of Mr. Davis is necessarily compelling - there are very few photos of my father in the house where I grew up, but that's because he was the designated photographer. And there are very few photos of my own family on our walls, period - but that's because we mostly have digital photos on the computer.
Everything else, though, is compelling, and a trifle creepy. Bravo.
OR maybe Andy's dad died when he was very young and Andy's mom finds it too painful a thing to have photos about reminding her of her lost husband. She would undoubtedly have some photos somewhere, but locked away in albums not on display.
Or, maybe Ms. Davis doesn't know who the father is. She might be a trifle on the wild side. That would argue that Andy and his sister are only half-siblings.
Or, final possibility, IVF. She's a strong woman who wanted kids and didn't want a husband.
All possible, but a) Andy's dad was alive within the past two years--the result was Molly, b) Mrs. Davis doesn't strike me as the wild side type, c) possible, but she's called "Mrs. Davis," so there must have been a mister.
a) True, so maybe Andy lost his memory in the tragic accident that claimed the life of his father, or perhaps he was the accidental cause of the tragedy. b) Still waters run deep. We don't see much of Mrs. Davis, who knows what she could be up to? Perhaps that's why they have to move, to stay one step ahead of creditors/scam victims. c) Perhaps Mrs. Davis is just a polite fiction to keep away nosy neighbors. OR d) Maybe Mrs. Davis is the villain here, kidnapping the children, constantly moving so that no one can find them, changing her name, no photos of the dad so that the kids will be more dependent on her and forget any previous life. Perhaps Woody is something that she stole from a mark who was a classic top collector. You are just assuming that she is a reliable narrator.
Consider, just for a moment, that perhaps Woody IS Mr. Davis. This wouldn't obviate the bulk of your argument, Jess, but provides a reason for his exit. His soul is the soul of a torturer, the soul of a burgeoning criminal -- after all, it's a small step from setting toys on fire to doing the same to animals, and if he was a bedwetter too (and there's nothing in the Toy Story canon to suggest that he WASN'T), you've got the serial killer profile trifecta.
But perhaps Mrs. Davis -- wise to his ways, and tired of the ammonia stink of their king-sized mattress -- found a way to trap her husband's soul in the form of a cowboy doll. And suddenly the line about him being an "old family toy" is delivered with a wink. The trauma of being trapped in the form of a Woody doll would, as you suggest, affect Mr. Davis's memory -- but he'd still recognize his son, and this would explain his fierce love for the boy.
Hell, maybe Woody's family in the museum were other trapped souls. Maybe Andy and his sister are due for a similar fate. Maybe Mrs. Davis is really the villain of the piece. After all, what's a Disney film without an evil sorceress? Or a pee-stained mattress?
Disney does have a thing for wicked stepmoms. Maybe Mrs. Davis is a stepmom who put Mr Davis in Woody as she plans to do to Andy.....bawhahaha!
On September 10th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
, (Anonymous) commented
The day we saw TS3 I floated the idea to Nicole that Andy's father was Sid's father, based on the simple and compelling non-evidence that Sid's father was the only man in the movie. It's this same impulse that leads otherwise fine writers to somehow conclude that Grendel is the child of Grendel's Mother and King Hrothgar. Both pairings make absolutely no sense at all, but God and critics abhor a vacuum and will latch onto any port in a storm.
I'm not a Dexter watcher, but it's an amusing idea, so I say we go with it.
Hrothgar is Grendel's father what what what?
Ah...gosh, and to think I missed all that by not seeing the movie. Darn.
You do realize that is common among Disney films. Most Disney movies have an absent parent. I only one I can think of one off the top of my head. That is the Incredibles. Otherwise the father or mother is dead or estranged.
Oh, I know--but why did Mrs. Davis erase Mr. Davis from the house? No photos at all?
Another missing father (doesn't) show up in UP. I really want to know what's going on with Russell's family. Not only is Dad missing, but Mom can't be the parent on the stage with Russell at the end. I always assumed Andy's dad and mom were recently divorced, but your argument is compelling. Creepy, but compelling.
Yeah, that one really bothered me as well.
As to the original question, we're looking for someone born in the 1950's who vanishes from the picture no earlier than 1993?
My first thought was Drexl Spivey from True Romance. Mom took the opportunity to leave once Andy's father, the abusive pimp, is killed. She still moved around a lot because she was afarid that someone like Christopher Walken would try to hunt her down.
Andy's father was Ralph the Plumber, the first murdered ex from So I Married An Ax Murderer. Andy's mom was so distrassed to find out that out her husband was a polygimist after he was murdered that she just erased him from their lives.
Andy's father was a murdered bystander in Chow Yun-Fat's Full Contact. He was in Bangcock doing something unsavory and illegal when he got caught in the crossfire. Like the previous idea, the circumstances of his death and what it revealed about him is why Andy's mom started erasing his memory from their lives.
Andy's father was Dennis Nedry in Jurrasic Park, and mom just didn't want to be reminded of her corporate criminal husband who was killed by a poison-spitting Dilophosaurus. Actually this one works teh best for me. The Dennis Nedry character seems like someone who might have had collectable toys in teh attic.
Ohhhhh, I like the Dennis Nedry theory! He IS the sort to have all sorts of collectibles in his attic, just so he can brag about have so many expensive things...
Alternatively, Mr Davis was my ex brother in law, who is now my ex-sister in law kinda sorta and for all sorts of reasons my sister prefers no pics of him around ....
I always though that Andy's mom was a successful (single) woman who decided she wanted children, which fit with the thought that she was downsizing life and taking a new job so that she could spend more time with them. That she was single would also explain why Andy and Molly look nothing alike; she probably chose different sperm donors.
Edited at 2010-09-10 10:49 pm (UTC)
This is a well thought out post, but I have some thoughts:
First, the dates for everything except the run of "Woody's Round-Up" are open to debate, considering that Andy only aged 11 years in 15 years of real time. Add to that the fact that the first film has a late 80's aesthetic (Pizza Planet and the alien mascots definitely remind me of something inspired by mid-80's Amblin Entertainment films), and pinning down exact dates for anything else might be folly on all of our parts.
But let's go with Andy's 1989 birth date, for the sake of argument. If he grew up in the 90s, that means that he grew up in a time period that had many failed revivals/remakes (the He-Man with the ponytail, Flash Gordon, Phantom 2040, James Bond Jr., etc.). Who's to say that there wasn't a early 90s revival of "Woody & Friends" that only lasted a season, but came out at just the right time to inspire fervent loyalty in kids like Andy (speaking from personal experience as a Battle of the Planets fanboy)? That would account for other Woody paraphenalia in the house (posters, sheets, etc). But how does this account for Andy getting a hold of this vintage toy?
Let's say that Andy's grandfather bought young Mr. Davis the toy on Christmas of 1957, the year "Woody's Round-Up" got cancelled. The present didn't go over well with Mr. Davis, and it ended up in a closet or an attic somewhere. Flash forward to whatever year the "Woody and Friends" revival happens. For the sake of convenience, let's say that Mr. Davis died suddenly that year (car accident or somesuch). Grandpa Davis noticed the Woody poster on his wall and gives him this old toy that was collecting dust in an attic in an attempt to console his grieving grandson. It would explain why Woody only remembers Andy as his owner, and it would explain Andy's attachment to the toy.
Occam's Razor be damned, I hate the idea of Mr. Davis being a sociopath and a serial killer, and if I can come up with another explanation for his absence, I will.
Oh, I was such a Battle of the Planetd fangirl! I even wrote fanfic. Which no one will ever see.
I love the speculation, but I don't see why Mr. Davis has to be anything but a mostly-absent father/ex-husband. No one in the family seems traumatized by the lack of him, which you'd expect if he'd died. No one seems traumatized or angry at all, which I would expect if there had been a nasty divorce and/or abandonment. The fact that she's called "Mrs." Davis does indicate that she was married, as opposed to having always been a single parent. It seems most likely to me that there was a reasonably amicable divorce; she got the house and decided to downsize; she removed all his photos because she wants to move on; and he hasn't necessarily abandoned the kids, but he isn't around much either, which explains Andy's attachment to the toy his mom gave him - displaced affection or something. Maybe Woody is so attached to Andy simply because Andy is especially attached to him - maybe toys reflect how their owners feel about them. (Jenny was quite attached to Emily, too.) Woody's clearly been stored away for many years, but he could have been "an old family toy" of Mrs. Davis' family, too. If he'd been in Mr. Davis' family, seems she would have said something like, "one of your father's toys". Maybe her dad had been a collector, and she found the toy in the attic and figured someone ought to play with it (lots of people don't "get" keeping toys as collectibles and never realize they might be valuable). As for why Molly doesn't look like Andy, this could be Mrs. Davis' second marriage; maybe Andy never knew his own father for whatever reason; maybe Mr. Davis had adopted him as a baby.
I can't believe I've put this much thought into this.
Oh, wait, yes, I can.
All good points.
But what especially disturbs me is that Sid lives with BOTH of his parents. We hear Sid's mom in the background once or twice, and we see Sid's dad (or, at least, his feet) in TS1 when Scud follows Buzz into the room with the TV showing the action figure commercial. Scud's hasty, fearful retreat tells us everything we need to know about Sid's dad and (probably) why Sid behaves as he does.
So, in its animated features at least (excepting "The Incredibles" as previously noted), Disney suggests that single-parent families are the crucible for producing "heroes," while traditional, two-parent families create ... well, "monsters."
OR is Disney merely catering to the prevailing cultural norm resulting from decades of increasing divorce rates, gambling that the lion's share of its audience/target market resides in single-parent homes?
The Timing is a Little Off...
But how old is Scorpio from the movie, DIRTY HARRY? Assume he survived the end- he certainly has the malevolent personality that could fit your description.
I'm going to get some strange looks from the wife when i tell her this.
His dad is the original GI Joe and died in combat.
His dad is Gazerbeam, and died on the island in Incredibles, or maybe he's Thunderhead.
I like the theory that Woody is a posessed doll a la Chucky though.
Ooh, maybe Mrs. Davis is a hermaphrodite and self impregnates like the lady in Koontz's Bad Place.
Ok. This is my theory:
Andy's dad (Mr. Davis) was hardly ever home (Probably traveling alot), and after a few years of marriage, Mrs. and Mr. Davis got divorced - because it probably didn't work out. This happens all the time and I don't think Mrs. Davis don't have any pictures of her ex-husband because she dislike/hate him (50% or so of all marriages ends in divorces, and alot of them don't necessarily ends with the couple disliking/hating each other). But if there WERE any pictures of the dad hanging around, I would probably think he was dead, which I think Pixar didn't want anyone to think at all. Andy having a dead father would be a complete different story than Pixar wanted to tell in the first place.
This leads me to Woody's role in all of this. I think he used to be the favorite toy of Mr. Davis when he was a young boy (Woody is not a typical easily breakable toy, which may justify his mint condition, yet being played with for two generations). I think Mr. Davis passed Woody on to his son - after being stored in the attic for many years. And I think that Woody have being taking over the role as a fatherfigure for Andy in the absent of his former companion (Mr. Davis). This may also justify that Andy don't have any pictures of his dad hanging around, because he don't need any, because Woody is the strongest memory of his dad. Which justifies their very strong bond. I honestly don't think any kid would have such strong connection to an old toy like Woody, if it wasn't more to it.
Now the sibling thing. Molly and Andy could be full siblings even that they have different hair color. (Look up gene technology in a science book),. They don't even have to look alike at all. It is even possible for full siblings to have different skin colors - one black and one white, for example. (Look up gene technology in a science book) . And the thing that Molly is so young and the parents are divorced is because I think Molly is a failed attempt of saving the marriage. Lots of couples tries to have a baby in attempt of saving their marriages.
And last - Why Woody doesn't know anything of his own origin as a toy. Maybe his previous owner (Whom I think is Mr. Davis) wasn't realy a big fan of the TV-show? You don't have to be a fan of the TV-show, the origin, or whatever to like the toys. I'm not sure, but it might be possible. Buzz Lightyear know his own origin because it's written on the box - he just literally quoting the box he came in. It is possible that the box Woody came in didn't say anything of his origin and that Mr. Davis hardly ever or never watched the show. Woody may even be older than the actual TV-show and that the show was based on Woody and not the other way around - and that the Roundup Gang maybe is just addons to the show.
So my conclusion of my theory would be that Andy and Molly's dad is just an average man that is divorced from the mother of his children. Not necessarily an evil torturist or/and a doucebag that slept around with other women (or men?). Of course that's possible too, but I don't think that was the story Pixar wanted to tell. I think they wanted the dad to play a small part as possible to justify the moving plot.