Pixar Geeks Tip Their Hat to John Ford

A week ago I did a post about cool film references in Pixar films. Today I’d like to dissect another one–at least I think it’s a film reference—that occurs late in Toy Story 2. When Woody, Buzz and Bullseye chase after the plane to save Jesse, it’s stream of clichés from Hollywood westerns…

Riding Bullseye…

Climbing across the roofs of the luggage “train” (which includes train sound FX)…

And when he finally saves Jesse, they have this exchange…

Now that’s the part that caught my eye. When Woody says “C’mon, Jess. It’s time to take you home,” it reminds me an awful lot of…

(SPOILER ALERT! At this point, if you’ve never seen the john Ford film The Searchers, you might want to stop reading this post.)

Some may argue that since that the lines aren’t identical (“C’mon, Jess. It’s time to take you home” vs “Let’s go home, Debbie”), that it isn’t really a lift from the John Ford film, but here’s my take:

On one hand, I suspect it is a reference because these Pixar guys don’t miss anything. They love films, and they do their homework.

On the other hand, like at the end of The Searchers, what Woody says is totally appropriate. Unlike the Empire Strikes Back reference ten minutes earlier in the film, this isn’t gratuitous. In fact, “home” in both Toy Story and The Searchers is an important motif. So, Woody’s line’s resemblance to Ethan’s at the end of The Searchers is logical yet perhaps completely coincidental…And yet, coming at the end of a string of loving references to Hollywood westerns, I find it hard to believe that it’s just a coincidence.

I’d love someone from Pixar to chime in and set the record straight. (How awesome would that be!)


Filed under Film

5 responses to “Pixar Geeks Tip Their Hat to John Ford

  1. Ed


    You are astute! I definitely think the Pixar Dudes and Dudettes are making a reference to “The Searchers!”

    Can you also confirm a rumor I heard? Is it true that Neil Labute is remaking “The Searchers” and in his remake when Ethan finally tracks down Debbie he says, “Now Debbie, it’s time for me to kill you.”

  2. Mom

    I hope Pixar is watching and you get your answer.

  3. Tim Streeto

    Hey Stephen,

    This weekend I watched the non-Pixar “Monsters vs. Aliens” (or “the blue blob” as my Lucy now calls it) which is so full of film references, both obvious and subtle: Attack of the 50 ft. woman, The Blob, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Fly, Dr. Strangelove, War of the Worlds, The Great Escape, even Beverly Hills Cop, to name a few…

    And naturally it was in 3D! Bring back Percepto!

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