We Figured Out Who Andy’s Mom in Toy Story Is, and Now the Movie Is Even Sweeter

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 25 2014 12:33 PM

The Secret Identity of Andy’s Mom in Toy Story

toy_story_andy_1

Disney/Pixar

Last fall, Jon Negroni advanced a Grand Unified Theory of Pixar, showing how all 14 feature films fit together in a single animated universe. Now he has another surprising theory, this time about the Toy Story movies. Slightly different versions of both posts first appeared on Negroni's own site. They are reprinted with his permission. 

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It all started with a hat.

Several months ago, one of my anonymous Pixar Theory Interns (that’s a thing, of course) came to me with a crazy proposition: Andy’s mom is Emily, Jessie’s previous owner.

I laughed. Then I agreed.

First, though, I compiled the evidence. Take a look at the cowboy hat Andy frequently wears in the movies:

t2e0aaw151_1

Disney/Pixar

Here’s another angle:

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Disney/Pixar

As you can see, Andy’s hat is noticeably different from Woody’s. Why is this? Why wouldn’t Andy want to wear a hat that more closely resembles the one worn by his favorite toy?

It’s no secret that Andy has a close connection with Woody. In Toy Story 2, his mom (whom we only know as Ms. Davis) mentions that Woody is an old family toy.

Remember that Woody doesn’t recall that he’s a collector’s item, a toy made in the 1950s. This is different from the other toys, who know full well where they come from. It’s possible that Woody doesn’t know because he’s been in Andy’s family for a long time, possibly belonging to his father.

But we need more evidence. Take a close look at Jessie’s hat:

ts2jessietoystory11336601474324

Disney/Pixar

Ah, this hat looks familiar. It’s the same red hat with a white lace that Andy wears. The only difference is that Jessie’s hat has a white lace around the center. But look at Andy’s hat again.

toy_story_andy_2

Disney/Pixar

There’s a faded mark where the white lace should be. Why do you think that is? And what does Jessie have to do with this?

Recall the story of Jessie. Her owner Emily grew up with her, much as Andy grew up with Woody. She was loved and cherished, but Emily eventually gave her away when she grew older. Jessie ended up in storage for a long time, as we learn when she has a panic attack about having to go back.

Now, take a close look at what’s on this bed in Emily’s room:

screenshot20140222at31242pm

Disney/Pixar

That is a hat that looks extremely similar to—you guessed it—Andy’s. The room is also pretty old-fashioned, leaving room for this to take place years before Andy was born.

In fact, you can clearly tell that this bedroom is not contemporary, thanks to shots like these:

screenshot20140222at31642pm

Disney/Pixar

The only difference between the hat that Emily wears throughout this sequence and Andy’s hat is an extra white lace around the center, which is visibly missing from Andy’s hat. Otherwise, the hats are identical.

Also, in the donation box that Emily puts Jessie in, we don’t see the hat. We do see other remnants of her connection with Jessie, but the hat is noticeably absent. The box isn’t even big enough to hold it. So Emily held onto that hat … and maybe passed it on to her child, who would also grow to love a cowboy doll.

We never get a closeup of Emily’s face, but we do see that she has light, auburn hair as a teenager. Also, it is very short. Compare that to:

500full

Disney/Pixar

The middle picture is closest to the strawberry blonde color we see when Emily is young. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that her hair lightened as she aged, or she could have dyed it.

We don’t know the first name of Andy’s mom and we don’t know Emily’s last name. But we know that Andy’s and Emily’s hats are the same and that Emily is old enough to be Andy’s mom. We definitely know that Pixar is capable of sneaking something like this into a movie without being overt about it.

You may be wondering how the two characters could be the same if Emily was willing to give Jessie up so easily, while Andy was far more hesitant.

But the scenarios are actually quite similar. Andy forgot about Woody as he grew up too, despite their strong connection. Andy even gave Woody away, albeit in a different manner than Emily.

Would Andy’s mom get excited to see Jessie again? Perhaps, though we never get to see her reaction. And, of course, she would probably assume that it was a different version of the same toy. She would be pleased, one imagines, but she wouldn’t necessarily realize the utter serendipity of it.

What do you think? Do you believe that the two characters are the same and that Andy’s mom/Emily found redemption through the love her son had for the toy she left behind? Or, do you hate fun, love, and destiny? Let me know in the comments.

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