Of course, what's comfort for some is trauma for others. By turning a once disposed spork into a toy, Bonnie forced Forky to reckon with his own existence. His initial moments on Earth are full of terror, and he longs to return to the trash. I've already written an entire piece about Forky, but suffice it to say he's one of the oddest, most affecting animated characters to grace the screen in recent memory. More of an heir to Inside Out's Bing Bong than any existing character in the Toy Story universe, his strange persona guides the tone of the film, which is more melancholy than downright sob-inducing.
Ultimately, Forky jumps out the window of a moving vehicle in an effort to escape Bonnie's smothering affection during a road trip. Woody, assuming his self-appointed duties, goes after the wayward utensil to convince him that it's worth abandoning the promise of trash for Bonnie. But Toy Story 4 is as much about Forky's journey to a new sense of purpose as it is about Woody's, and his allegiances are tested when they come across an antiques store that seemingly is home to his one-time love Bo Peep (Annie Potts), a doll-slash-nightlight previously belonging to Andy's younger sister. But Bo, now refashioned into a crafty explorer, has abandoned the shop for life as "lost toy," leaving just the lamp behind. This allows her to provide happiness intermittently to children on her own terms, which she does while zooming around in a fake skunk with a sidekick Giggles McDimples (Ally Maki).
As in all the Toy Story movies, the ultimate goal for these semi-inanimate objects is to get back to their home base, in this case Bonnie's family's RV. While Bo's new ethos is an intriguing counter to Woody's, where the happiness of his kid is tantamount, the the real obstacle in the way is a toy named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a Chatty Cathy analog who lords over the antique shop with a creepy sweetness and an army of terrifying ventriloquist dummies. She takes Forky hostage in an effort to steal Woody's voice box, since hers is broken and she assumes that, if fixed, she'll finally win the love of the store-owner's granddaughter.
If this all sounds like heady, almost tragic, stuff about how to survive a meaningless existence, well, it is. But Toy Story 4 also mixes all that longing with some of the funniest moments ever to grace this series courtesy of Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom, an abandoned Canadian action figure, and Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as Ducky and Bunny, two carnival prizes sewn together. It's gag-a-minute filmmaking with zany, Looney Tunes energy, that covers a lot of plot at a brisk pace.