voiced with neurotic terror by Tony Hale, sees himself not as a toy but as a piece of trash, which is why he keeps trying to hurl himself into the nearest wastebasket. As a mini-Frankenstein with suicidal urges, Forky represents the kind of existential conundrum that future dissertations are made of; perhaps only Pixar could make a children’s movie that leaves you pondering the origins of the soul and the nature of free will. Still, for the first time in a Toy Story picture, I found myself resisting parts of the premise.
Forky grows on you as a character, but his role is mainly to enable Woody’s reckless heroism, which is starting to look a lot like narcissism. When Bonnie brings her toys along on a family road trip, Forky gets lost, and Woody sets out to track him down. He finds him, but then they wind up in an antique shop where Woody spies something that reminds him of his old friend, the shepherdess Bo Peep, whom he hasn’t seen in years. That leads them to a doll named Gabby Gabby, voiced by Christina Hendricks with a sweetness that seems a little too good to be true.
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Gabby Gabby has her own twisted plans for Woody and Forky. She might seem like the latest version of a familiar villain, the abandoned toy out for revenge. Happily, she turns out to be a more complicated and sympathetic figure than that. But the movie’s most richly layered character is Bo Peep, who was given away by her kid years ago and now spends her days with other renegade toys on public playgrounds. Don’t be fooled by that porcelain delicacy: Bo Peep, voiced by Annie Potts, has been toughened by her years off the grid, and it’s bracing to see her rebuke Woody, with his sentimental belief that every toy needs a child’s love to know its worth.