When I watched the trailer for Disney/Pixar’s new animated film Lightyear, my first impression was that the movie looked fun but I didn’t experience a “jump-out-of-your-seat” level of hype.
That turned out to pretty much summarize how I felt about the film after watching it this weekend. It’s a fun movie and a decent time at the theater, though it’s not an instant classic like Toy Story or Monsters Inc.
What makes Lightyear unique is that even though it features one of the famous characters from Toy Story, it’s not a prequel, sequel, or even a spin-off, really. The intro sets this up as the animated movie that Andy went to see as a child that inspired him to want a Buzz Lightyear toy.
It’s a charming premise, even if it requires a little suspension of disbelief (computer animation didn’t look quite that flawless back in 1995). Lightyear pays homage to lots of your favorite sci-fi action/adventure films, with even a little time travel thrown in.
Far and away my favorite part of this movie was the robot cat named Sox. This cat was a scene-stealer every second he was on screen, and while I don’t want to ruin any of these delightful moments by spoiling them, just know that Sox has some surprises in store for you (in the same way you needed to keep a close eye on Goose from Captain Marvel). I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to buy a talking Sox toy for my daughter to play with (and let’s be honest, this toy will kinda be for me too).
I also liked some of the side characters who team up with Buzz: Izzy, the granddaughter of Buzz’s best friend; the clumsy but well-meaning Mo; and elderly convict/weapons expert Darby (who is another scene-stealer and was my other favorite character). This ragtag crew of recruits was a lot of fun, and they teach Buzz an important lesson about second chances.
There’s a big twist regarding the villain that I’m still mulling over; I’m not quite sure if it worked for me or not, but it was interesting and unexpected.
Also, it was hard for me to watch the movie and not think about the old animated Buzz Lightyear movie from the early 2000s and its accompanying TV series, which I grew up watching. Maybe it hasn’t held up well over time (I haven’t seen it in years), but I enjoyed the heck out of it as a kid and this new movie didn’t recapture that same magic.
But that’s often how it goes, isn’t it? It’s really tough for newer movies to make you feel the same way as a beloved childhood film. I’m looking forward to showing my daughter Lightyear when she’s a little older, and maybe this will be “her version” of Buzz Lightyear.
Also, I’m always excited for any film that inspires kids to dream about space exploration. It’s fun to think about how this movie could be the film that sparks the interest of a kid sitting in the theater, and inspires them to become a pioneering astronaut in the future. To infinity and beyond, indeed!