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Recently a man claimed to have the definitive backstory of Toy Story's Woody and Andy that answered every question you didn't know you had. Now, one of Pixar's top people has responded. Toy collector Mike Mozart claimed to get the definitive story on the relationship between Andy, Woody, and Andy's dad from Joe Ranft, one of the original creators of the Toy Story films. However, now another Pixar exec, Andrew Stanton, has come out to debunk the entire thing.
Last week a story came out from a guy named Mike Mozart who claimed to have been a friend Pixar's Joe Ranft, one of the early directors and screenwriters withing Pixar. Mozart claimed that Ranft once confided in him a lot of backstory in the Toy Story films which the movies never explained. This included why we never see Andy's dad in the movies (he died of post-polio syndrome prior to the first movie) and why Woody, the lead character on a popular TV show, was somehow an incredibly rare toy (he was part of a cereal promotion that shut down). If you were a Pixar fan who liked to dive into the weeds of canon, the story had nearly every detail you were missing.
If we believe Mike Mozart, and on the face of it there's no reason not to, the ultimate source appeared to be a valid one. Joe Ranft was credited with contributing to the story of the original Toy Story. However, Andrew Stanton is credited with writing both the story and the screenplay for Toy Story as well as Toy Story 2, and according to him, this is "fake news."
With Andrew Stanton's unequivocal statement that the story is untrue, we're forced to shift the previous report into the realm of "fan theory." Having said that, it doesn't mean that it's not a fan theory with a decent source. It doesn't mean that Mike Mozart's conversation didn't happen, it just means that the story isn't official Pixar canon. It could simply be a backstory that Joe Ranft created on his own. The conversation reportedly took place following the release of Toy Story 2 and while Ranft wasn't directly involved in the screenplay of that film, he was the story supervisor, so he certainly had direct knowledge of the story as it formed. Unfortunately, since Ranft passed away in a car accident in 2005, nobody can ask him. This means that Mozart's story is technically hearsay. We're not in a court of law here, but if we were, this wouldn't hold up.
We have to admit that the backstory as explained had a certain Pixar feel to it, in that it was both beautiful and simultaneously heartbreaking. It also went a long way in answering most of the questions that Pixar fans had about the characters and filled in what appeared to be plot holes. Of course, at the end of the day, it could just be that the Toy Story movies had plot holes. I recently spoke with Brian Fee, the director of Cars 3 who, quoting Pixar director Pete Doctor, admitted that if you examine Pixar movies logically, every one of them will fall apart. He felt his job as a storyteller was to tell a story that was entertaining and emotional enough that the audience never noticed.
Even though there's a Toy Story 4 on the way it's unlikely that we'll get any definitive answers as we don't expect Andy to be part of the new movie. This means we'll likely never get an "official" answer to these questions from Pixar. It's possible that one doesn't even exist. Even if this one isn't the "real" answer, it doesn't mean you can't adopt is your particular headcanon, at least until Andrew Stanton opens up and tells us the real truth.