Forky’s Existential Dilemma — Toy Story 4

Posted on June 25, 2019 at 8:00 am

Copyright Pixar 2019

SPOILER ALERT: This post discusses plot elements of “Toy Story” movies.
In “Toy Story,” Buzz Lightyear does not know he is a toy; he thinks he is the “real” Buzz Lightyear. In “Toy Story 4,” Forky, the special friend made by Bonnie in kindergarten out of pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and a spork, still thinks of himself as a single-use plastic utensil, and spends much of the first part of the movie trying to throw himself away. Woody has to teach him that now that he is loved by a child he has a higher purpose: to love and be loved by her, to be a comfort and to inspire her creativity.

In Slate, Matthew Dessem writes about what Forky tells us about the underlying conception of the world of “Toy Story.”

He’s a cute little guy, and Tony Hale’s performance is charming, but Forky’s existence in the Pixar universe throws its entire sentient-toys premise into disarray. Toy Story’s toys have always been mass-produced products, real, redesigned, or imagined; Forky, on the other hand, is hand-crafted. Casual fans might assume that Pixar has merely expanded the Toy Story franchise’s theory of ensoulment: A toy’s life begins at the moment it becomes a toy, and Forky shows that process can happen in a factory mold or a kindergarten class.

I love this deep dive into the complex rules (or maybe just inconsistent as suits the storyline) of the “Toy Story” universe.

I also enjoyed Michael Cavan’s piece about Forky in the Washington Post.

s it happens Forky’s creators did not initially intend for him to have such philosophical depth.

“I wish we could say we sat down and wrote a beautiful character with an existential crisis, but he started off as a joke,” director Josh Cooley says.

“We were talking about what our kids would play with, like a rock,” Cooley says in an interview, “but what if that rock could come to life?”

The filmmakers ultimately decided it would be interesting to introduce a character who has the mind of someone who has never seen a “Toy Story” movie. “He doesn’t understand the rules of this world,” the director says of Forky, “and that became so much fun to play with.”

Cavna spoke to “Veep’s” Tony Hale, who was perfectly cast for the anxious Forky.

Hale mulled the character’s traits. “Forky’s nervous? Check,” the actor says. “He asks a lot of questions, to a fault. Bingo, that’s me.”

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