It’s That Movie – Globe of Books and Movies
Fun and silly ‘Toy Story’ prequel ‘Lightyear’ avoids most derivative pitfalls
It’s rare to see a franchise movie these days with the giddy non-essential energy of Lightyear, a Toy Story spin-off that no one asked for or really seems to care about. The film’s highly superfluous character lends it an understated charm, a sort of half-shrugged doodle vibe where truly silly gags and zippy-quippy zingers ricochet with harmless delight throughout a hero’s journey through otherwise generic. How ironic that Buzz Lightyear, famed for his stupidity and delusion, should star in a film so light on his feet and so aware of his own insignificance.
The opening credits justify the film’s very existence in a quick series of explanatory cards. Toy Story’s Andy, it seems, got his Buzz Lightyear action figure in 1995 because it was merchandise from a popular movie that year. “It’s that movie,” proclaims the last card. We are watching a fictional child’s film from another fictional child’s film! IP merchants, take note: Disney just avoided any questions of continuity by cleverly creating a reboot nesting doll.
LIGHT YEAR ★★★ (3/5 stars)
Realized by: Angus Mc Lane
Written by: Jason Headley, Angus MacLane
With : Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, James Brolin, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Efren Ramirez, Isiah Whitcock Jr.
Operating time: 105 minutes
Buzz (Chris Evans), of course, is on a space adventure 4.2 light years from Earth, where he and his spaceship full of hibernating colonizers land on a hostile planet. Befitting his swaggering lone wolf status, he recounts the mission diary with impunity, speaking in such a self-aggrandizing manner that his commanding officer, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) plays catchy background music to poke fun at him. But Buzz’s go-it-alone ways leave him and his cargo of off-world dwellers abandoned. The only way to return home is to develop and test experimental fuel to replace the hyperfast crystal he accidentally destroyed.
Due to the time dilation he undergoes with each flight test, Buzz finds himself jumping 4 years into the future while he himself only ages a few minutes. Six decades later, the tests are still failed, Alisha is dead, and Buzz’s only companion is Sox (Peter Sohn), the robot cat Alicia gave him when he started the tests. Worse still: the mysterious villain Zurg (James Brolin) and his robot army threaten to destroy the abandoned outpost unless Buzz can round up a ragtag group of irregular space rangers and stop him.
So begins Buzz’s long personal arc of learning to live in the moment, appreciating the people around you, and not being so obsessed with “finishing the mission” – especially if that means erasing the essence of the reason why one starts a mission in the first place. There’s also a multiverse narrative detour in the sidebar that doesn’t make much sense and makes someone say “I broke time.”
Anyway, boring. Let’s talk about the AI feline that solves crystal fusion, coughs up hairballs with a flamethrower, spits tranquilizer darts, says “bee-boop bee-boop” when plugged into other circuits, and when calculating numbers, turns his head and purrs “meow-meow meow meow.” Or Darby (Dale Soules), an ex-con more concerned with parole violations than killer androids. Or the rookie cadet with the chronically sad eyes. Or Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), the misfit Zen warrior who reliably delivers sweet laughs because the guy voicing him is friggin’ Taika Waititi.
All you need to know is that space suits have a quick-draw “surrender rope”, you make a sandwich by putting a slice of bread between two slices of meat, harpoon guns are surprisingly effective against high-tech machines, and you can either call a certain weapon MR8-OOM or “Mr. Boom.” A windy summer movie full of delicious distractions, Lightyear knows the best cure for uninspired plots is unexpected absurdity. To infinity and beyond! Or at least until the inevitable sequel.