As soon as the first teaser dropped for Pixar's Toy Story 4, we found ourselves in an existential, world-building bewilderment. Most of this comes from a very unexpected new character showing up— the character in question is called Forky, and he is quite literally just a fork with some eyes pasted on it that Bonnie (the new owner of the toys, per the ending of Toy Story 3) made herself. Forky himself seems unbalanced, and he unbalances us as well.
There are so many questions that have gone unanswered in terms of the Toy Story universe— can a toy be killed? Barring a run in with a huge, burning furnace, are they immortal? What constitutes a toy in the first place? If a child starts playing with a shoe, does that shoe then become sentient because of the inherent magical laws of toy-dom? That seems the be the case with Forky— Bonnie made him out of trash (like kids do), decided he was a toy, and now he's alive. He doesn't necessarily want to be. He openly declares this in the teaser, with Forky (voiced by Arrested Development and Veep legend Tony Hale) crying, "I don't belong here!"
In a statement that accompaied the teaser, incoming director Josh Cooley says that Forky is a "spork-turned-craft-project." He only "becomes" a toy because Bonnie plays with him as such, which leads us right back to some of our aforementioned questions. Aside from questions already stated, does Bonnie have the right to do this? She spent so much time realizing she could, did she ever stop to think if she should? Is Bonnie close to becoming another John Hammond?
As Cooley says, “The world of Toy Story is built upon the idea that everything in the world has a purpose. A toy’s purpose is to be there for its child." So far, that makes sense. He adds, "...what about toys that are made out of other objects?" We saw a little of this in the first Toy Story, with some of the nasty Sid's menacing Frankenstein toy creations...but Sid was terrorizing these toys, not playing with them. Cooley reiterates that Bonnie has made Forky out of "a disposable fork...so he’s facing a crisis." According to Cooley, Forky has a lot more interest in fulfilling his destiny as a utensil, rather than facing his new destiny as a toy. This new destiny has been "thrust upon him."
This storyline was enough to get the in-demand Hale on board, as he was quoted in the statement as saying, “A utensil’s existential crisis? I’m in!”
The movie might answer some of these questions, but probably not. We find ourselves wondering about Forky's life as a utensil, before Bonnie (and life) found a way— the statement seems to make a case for some kind of general utensil sentience, and if that's true, then what do the inner lives of dinnerware consist of? Does every inanimate object have an inner life? What if Bonnie decided to play with the Liberty Bell on a family trip to Philadelphia...would it come alive, or is it alive already?
So many questions, and no answers in sight. Here's hoping that Cooley, Hale, and the rest of the team are up for the existential dilemmas that this talking fork have brought up...there's something you never expect to write until you do.