Lightyear Races Towards Infinity, Misses Beyond

The Stream: Lacks the trademark Pixar emotional punch.

The Big Screen: Sox is a very funny, very cute scene stealer.

The Final Bill: Engaging and entertaining but fails to reach the heights of the best Pixar movies.

– Trip Fontaine
Director: Angus MacLane
Writers: screenplay by Jason Headley; story by Jason Headley, Matthew Aldrich, and Angus MacLane
Stars: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, and Uzo Aduba
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation
Rating: PG for action/peril
Runtime: 1 hour 34 minutes
Production Companies: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Platform: In theaters June 17, 2022

It has been almost 30 years since the original Toy Story movie premiered to much acclaim. There have been 3 sequels since that time, and each of those sequels delved into deep and lofty themes like friendship, growth and existence itself. Now, Pixar has gone back to the Toy Story universe again and presents Lightyear. If I’m correct, Toy Story 4 seemed like an unnecessary, though moderately successful, diversion; and now there’s a spin-off that is the movie on which the Buzz Lightyear character is based. Okay… I had to run out and see. Let’s see what’s beyond infinity.

The initial text of Lightyear tells us that what we are about to see is the 1995 movie that Andy saw that made him want to buy the Buzz Lightyear toy. The movie is about a space ranger, Buzz Lightyear, who is desperately trying to complete a mission he thinks he botched. The more Lightyear tries to complete the mission the more time slips away from him. Lightyear is joined by a rag-tag group of rookie, wannabe space rangers and an adorable “cat” named Sox. Hijinks and space adventure ensues.

There are two related things that Lightyear has to contend with: 1.) why Andy wanted the Buzz Lightyear toy and 2.) how does Lightyear stack up to the other movies in the Pixar filmography. After seeing this, I don’t understand why Andy would want the Buzz toy instead of the Sox toy. Sox is the obvious standout of the movie. Sox is cute and funny and smart and memorable. Lightyear isn’t really any of that, despite Chris Evans’ good performance. As for its place in the Pixar filmography, Lightyear is a nice story to enhance the Toy Story saga, but it doesn’t succeed on its own; and, it doesn’t reach the heights of the best Pixar movies like Finding Nemo, Up, Inside Out and Soul. It attempts to tug at your heartstrings, but it gets bogged down by the action and space adventure. Although the space adventure stuff is cool, if you don’t have a strong connection to Buzz, you probably won’t care much.

I think kids will like Lightyear, especially the ones who’ll be captivated by the space and pseudo-science-y stuff. It doesn’t seem that you have to know a lot about Toy Story to enjoy the movie, but I suspect some appreciation of the originals may be beneficial. On its own, it is fine. The voice cast is very good and have a nice charm. Chris Evans sounds so much like Tim Allen. Keke Palmer is charming as ever in her role. She has a lot of personality in her voice, so they did a good job of casting that part. There’s some humor, a lot of action and so, yeah… it’s fine as an animated action movie.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

Well, Lightyear has its moments. There are good voice performances by the cast, a very endearing character in Sox, and an interesting premise. It fails to deliver on the promise of the story and there isn’t much of an emotional hook like most Pixar movies. Nevertheless, it’s entertaining enough to keep you engaged for its runtime. I’d suggest a bowl of popcorn for a matinee viewing.