At long last, Toy Story 4 has arrived. It makes for an unexpected coda to Pixar’s original franchise, considering how seemingly perfect of a conclusion Toy Story 3 was. The fourth installment brings with it a brand-new toy named Forky (Tony Hale). Unlike Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and all their beloved playmates, Forky doesn’t think of himself as a toy, but rather a piece of trash — since young Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) created him on her first day of kindergarten by sticking pipe cleaner arms and googly eyes onto a spork.
Woody sets out to teach Forky what it means to be a toy, but in the process starts questioning his own role in Bonnie’s life. Now that he’s mostly been relegated to the kid’s closet, Woody learns of an alternate existence when he encounters long-lost Bo Peep (Annie Potts) during a family road trip. She’s a free spirit no longer stuck to any one kid.
Based on early reviews of Toy Story 4, many critics appreciate the film’s existential questions — and they sure love Forky.
“Hail Forky, the worldcure!” EW’s Darren Franich writes in his B-grade review. “Forky is trash, says Forky. It brings to mind the Bride of Frankenstein, when Boris Karloff declares ‘WE BELONG DEAD.’ Frankenstein’s monster was the original Forky, turns out.”
Check out a round-up of Toy Story 4 reviews below. The film hits theaters on June 21.
Darren Franich (Entertainment Weekly):
“So Gabby Gabby is groovy groovy, and Forky is forking great. This overstuffed movie throws in another complication, though. An opening flashback explains what happened to Woody’s lost love Bo Peep (Annie Potts). The porcelain shepherd reappears at the carnival with a new attitude. Now a kidless Lost Toy, she’s a vaguely post-apocalyptic action type, weaponizing her staff, driving a twisted metal skunkmobile. What changed her so? “Some kids play rougher than others,” she says. “You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen.” Lady, have you seen Forky?
I’m of two minds here. Bo Peep’s arrival offers Woody a new kind of conflict. He wants to take care of Bonnie, and he’s badly missed Bo Peep. So, what does he value more: The companionship of a child, or the companionship of another toy? Problem: I don’t really understand the difference. We’re hitting the outer edge of this universe’s emotional cohesion, and the toy-human divided reality crosses a couple other uncanny valleys as the story shambles along.”
Lindsey Bahr (Associated Press):
“It’s futile to ask ‘why more’ in the movie business, but it’s hard not to go in a little suspicious of a fourth Toy Story. The trilogy was so perfect. What more could we ask of Woody and Buzz? What more did we as an audience need? If we got another, would it live up to the unbridled joy and emotional satisfaction of the first three? And if it was bad, would it tarnish the others?
Sure it might sound a little dramatic to get this emotionally invested in the legacy of an animated series about anthropomorphic toys, but Pixar and Disney did this to themselves by creating something so precious and lasting. But I’m delighted to report that the fears were unwarranted. Toy Story 4 is a blast and it’s great to be back with the gang.”
Peter DeBruge (Variety):
“Those are the stakes facing Toy Story 4, but this is Pixar we’re talking about — a place where follow-ups level up — and this series’ quaternary installment adds so much that audiences will find it hard to imagine the saga without it. After all, Pixar is the kind of studio that so believes in doing right by its properties, it scrapped Disney’s slapdash direct-to-video plans for Toy Story 2 in order to make a theatrical sequel that surpassed the original. A decade later, Toy Story 3 further expanded on the fundamental questions of what it means to be a toy, ending with an unforgettably emotional scene in which college-bound Andy passed his playthings on to a new child, Bonnie.
For many, the exploits of Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) ought to have ended there. This is no cash-grab continuation, however, but an organic and intuitive new chapter that enriches our understanding of the characters, offering a different and more satisfying kind of closure for their collective journeys — which involve Bonnie’s first day of kindergarten, a family road trip and the discovery of an antiques shop where sad old toys hope for a second chance.”
David Sims (The Atlantic):
“Toy Story 4 wisely feels like less of a new chapter and more like an epilogue, an addendum for Woody that muses on the peculiarities of the symbiotic relationship between toys and humans these movies have long explored. But the film’s most challenging, bizarre, and lovable material involves a beady-eyed Frankenstein monster named Forky (Tony Hale) who becomes the newest addition to Bonnie’s flock after she builds him in kindergarten class. His body is a plastic spork, his feet are made of broken popsicle sticks, and his hands are gnarled pipe cleaners that grasp at the air with maniacal urgency. Most importantly, he doesn’t know why he’s alive, and reader, that’s when I leaned forward in my seat.”
Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter):
“But even the lowliest, dirtiest and most ignoble doll or toy would be insulted by what, at her school orientation day, little Bonnie publicly embraces as her new best friend and companion — a plastic fork (or, perhaps more precisely, a spork), one with lopsided eyes, a waxy mouth and pipe-cleaner arms. In other words, it’s a piece of trash and, better yet, it knows it; ‘I’m a fork!,’ it insists, adding that it doesn’t even comprehend what a toy is. In the world of Pixar, even its name, ‘Forky,’ sounds more than a little dirty, and it’s hard to imagine the scene at an early Toy Story 4 story conference when somebody blurted out the idea of having a major new toy character be a disposable fork and everyone said, “Yeah, sure, great, that’s it! I wish I’d thought of that one myself!”
Whether the notion was embraced at once or prevailed a year later after no one could come up with anything better, the choice ultimately seems inspired, one that provokes a goodly share of laughs. ‘You’re a toy now, Forky,’ it’s told in no uncertain terms, and no one attempts to eat with its assistance thereafter.”
David Ehrlich (IndieWire):
“Forget Andy, forget Woody, and definitely forget that lame Buzz Lightyear (the writers of Toy Story 4 already have), Forky is the god’s honest truth. He’s everything these films have been working towards. After 25 years, several billion dollars, and the rise of a cartoon empire that has become synonymous with top-drawer family entertainment, the beating heart of the Toy Story saga is best expressed by a plastic spork with mismatched googly eyes, a red pipe cleaner for arms, and an existential crisis that causes him to snap even though he technically can’t even bend.”
Brian Truitt (USA Today):
“Directed by Josh Cooley, Toy Story 4 marks a major shift for earnest cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), oddball space ranger Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the plastic-is-fantastic gang: Their old owner Andy has gone off to college and they now belong to young Bonnie, whose bedroom offers fresh challenges and a changing status quo.
While treading in familiar themes of nostalgia and identity – and playing your heartstrings like a vintage Stradivarius – the fourth flick benefits from a funnier story than usual, neato debuting characters (Keanu Reeves for the win!), improved animation and a welcome reunion.”
Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair):
“I should probably talk about Forky, because everyone’s gonna like Forky. He’s a crude DIY toy whom Bonnie fashions out of a spork, some pipe cleaner, and other schoolroom ephemera—a sorry-looking thing, drooping googly eyes and all. Yet Bonnie loves him, enamored of her own creation. If only Forky felt the same way.
Watching him achieve sentience has a wonderful twinge of Frankensteinian horror, as Forky is at first horrified by his newfound existence. He’s almost suicidally determined to assume what he believes is his rightful role as mere garbage. Who hasn’t wanted to yell “trash!” and throw oneself in the waste bin at some point, as Forky repeatedly does? It’s a dark and bracingly good joke, given nutty voice by Tony Hale. Though Forky recedes more into the background as the story re-centers on Woody and some other familiar characters, he remains the chief emblem of the film’s oddball spirit, its curious metaphysics.”