Right from the get go, we see in the opening credits that Lightyear is not at all related to the semi-kooky but lovable Buzz we have seen grow since we first met him over a quarter century ago. Instead, it is the movie that would become the favorite of young Andy back in 1995 (when the original Toy Story was released.)
Well, I knew I was not likely to get any call backs to Buzz being called “Mrs. Nesbit”(“DO YOU SEE THE HAT?”), but oh well. A framing device is a framing device.
I am able to over look the fact that Andy would like a movie such as this with such stellar animation. My first issues were with some of the political aspects. I am not going to argue that Disney should or should not have characters of the same gender having a romantic relationship, but having one in a movie that is meant for kids that is supposed to take place in 1995? Well, I could just be overthinking it.
It is not Buzz (Chris Evans) who is part of the couple in question, but his commanding officer and close friend Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba). They have recently landed on a faraway planet without any fuel (plus a “vine” problem that no one seems able to control). While Buzz is laser focused on finding the right fuel source, it is soon discovered that his test runs go longer than he thinks: a few minutes for him is years for those below. As the years pass, the planet below goes on, despite an ongoing threat of robots, lead by a familiar face any Toy Story fan knows as the eventual arch enemy.
The voice cast does a good job with what they are given. There are some fine supporting vocal performances by the likes of Keke Palmer, Taiki Waititi, Peter Souhn, and James Brolin (I can’t remember the last movie I saw him in). There was also some heat online about not having Buzz being voiced again by Tim Allen. While Allen is indeed a big reason to making the original Buzz as iconic as he is, the reason not to include him makes sense. This is not the Buzz we have come to know: He hasn’t been strapped to a rocket by the malicious neighbor Sid, hasn’t fallen for the red haired Jessie, etc. This is who that Buzz is based off of.
Indeed, the movie does sound like it could be a cash grab for Disney, and I am just about on board with that idea. It is indeed difficult for some (especially someone like me who can remember the original Toy Story from my childhood) to try to identify with a different version of a character. Then again, this movie is not entirely aimed at the child in me so much as the children directly in the audience.
Speaking of which, parents will be fine with seeing this with their kids (unless they don’t want them seeing two married women on screen). There are also indeed some light scares, so I would guesstimate age 6-7 or above.
While watching the movie, the film did feel more of a Disney lead film than a Pixar one (it was the first film in some time that did not have a “Short” film preceding it.) It strives for Infinity, but does not quite get there. The lessons in it for kids have been told before in other films, despite how important they are. I have not even mentioned the twist (I won’t spoil it), which is likely to confuse the kids (unless it confused only me in the theater).
Still, the simple fact is that the animation in this film is absolutely stellar, and should be more than enough to have kids and their parents experience something otherworldly for a little under two hours.