Since Disney and Pixar announced Light year, their attempts to explain the premise have been…well, “overcomplicated” is one way of putting it. “Silly” is yet another. It was not a sequel to toy story franchise, clearly, and there was something about “the real person the Buzz Lightyear toy was based on.” It all felt like the most roundabout way possible to what was essentially “we want a brand extension of a recognizable character, just take care of it.”
Effective on-screen captions at the start of Light year help clarify things considerably: Andy from toy story got a Buzz Lightyear toy in 1995, the toy was from his favorite movie, and Light year is this movie. It would be a good idea if the intentions of the creative team were to pay homage to the kind of blockbuster that a pre-teen child would have loved in the mid-90s, while getting the marketing boost of association with the beloved. toy story movies. But it’s not that Light year is. It’s a generally fun movie, and it hits some of the emotional notes that feels authentically Pixar. It’s just none of the things they’re trying to tell us: a circa 1995 blockbuster or a Buzz Lightyear movie.
This last statement may seem confusing, since there is indeed a Space Ranger named Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) at the center of the story. When his interstellar spaceship detects life on a distant planet, in an opening that begins to look eerily like Extraterrestrial-Buzz and his partner Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) investigate, but Buzz makes a costly mistake that leaves the ship’s large crew stranded indefinitely. Buzz takes it upon himself to solve the problem by testing an experimental hyperspace fuel.
This process leads to time-traveling complications, with Buzz aging just a few days as he ends up teaming up with Alisha’s granddaughter, Izzy (Keke Palmer), when the evil Emperor Zurg shows up ( don’t be surprised, Andy had that toy, too). It’s a clever device for examining how people can get trapped by mistakes they think define them – and in Buzz’s case, the lingering problem of trying to take care of everything without asking for help. ‘assistance. Director/co-writer Angus MacLane sweetens the medicine of the message with the fun shenanigans of Buzz’s makeshift crew, which not only includes Izzy, but also bumbling Mo (Taika Waititi), ex-con Darby (Dale Soules) and Buzz’s companion robot cat, Sox (a scene-stealing Peter Sohn, who makes you wonder why Andy didn’t this toy too).
The ensuing adventure is lively, often quite funny and thoughtful about its subject matter, making it absolutely nothing of the kind of silly big show it’s theoretically indebted to. The first act in particular is oddly in the media, explaining nothing about the nature of the Space Rangers’ body, their role in what otherwise appears to be a science mission, or Buzz Lightyear in particular as a character. There’s at least one obvious reason to sidestep such exposition – Buzz Lightyear has been a part of the pop culture landscape for almost 30 years – but it’s hard to carve out an identity for this distinct hyper-heroic Buzz character. by Tim Allen.
And whether anyone on the creative side likes it or not, that tension is baked into the DNA of a film called Light year. Chris Evans’ vocal performance is perfectly satisfying, but it exists in the shadow of one of the best animated vocal performances of all time. This guy is Buzz Lightyear, but he’s not our Buzz Lightyear, and clearly this identical story could have worked very well if we were starting from scratch with a protagonist whose name we had never heard before. At least it’s in a way that it feels a bit like a 1990s blockbuster: it’s kind of like when studios looked at a script and thought, “Hey, this could be the next die hard sequel, let’s change the hero’s name to John McClane and raise another $100 million!”
Is this all a family-friendly summer movie and underselling its charms? Maybe, but Disney and Pixar demanded it by building a story that didn’t need to exist. Light year is a story about letting go of the past and the life that awaits you. As satisfying as that was often, it would have been even better if he had listened to his own advice.