I won’t give away any spoilers in this honest Lightyear movie review. But let’s just say this newest Pixar film disappointed me. In the words of my preview companion, there is too much you have to put aside and forget about from the original Toy Story franchise to fully immerse yourself in Lightyear.
Lightyear: An Honest Movie Review
As I searched for an honest review of Lightyear to see if I was the only one feeling this way, I found this Fansided review. It encapsulated my thoughts so well that I considered just linking to it and forsaking my critiques completely. I do believe I have some unique insights to add, so allow me to share those.
I wanted to love Lightyear. Believe me.
As a HUGE Chris Evans fan, I thought that casting choice alone would make this movie a winner. Evans does make a formidable Space Ranger. But Evans’ performance alone does not a movie make.
The Cast of Lightyear
Make no mistake about this: Sox stole the show. Sox is basically a robotic emotional support cat created for Lightyear after one of his missions. If Disney doesn’t produce a ton of these ASAP for all of us to have at home, they’re missing out on a big marketing win.
UPDATE: Sox is available on Shop Disney as a 14″ plush toy. While it may look like Buzz Lightyear’s personal companion robot, it has been “reprogrammed as a plush toy”. Toy Sox does have moveable features too.
Peter Sohn provides the voice of Sox on screen.
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You’ll hear other well known voices in the cast as well, including:
- Keke Palmer as Izzy Hawthorne
- Taika Waititi as Mo Morrison
- Uzo Aduba as Alisha Hawthorne
- James Brolin as Emporer Zurg
Get the full Lightyear cast list on IMDB.com
When it came to the overall cast of Lightyear, Pixar was intentionally inclusive in every sense of the word. These were, by far, Disney Pixar’s most inclusive characters, from a racial, gender, age, and sexual perspective.
Star Wars, Marvel & More
Lightyear makes no mistake about borrowing themes, design elements, and even lines from its other popular franchises. In fact, I felt like there was a nod to Captain America almost right off the bat.
I heard others in the audience appreciate the references, but to me, they felt forced. I’ll admit, a few moments made me laugh. Other than that, it seemed like Pixar didn’t give enough thought to create new thematic elements and instead just borrowed from other popular franchises, including their own.
(I won’t talk about the adversary in the film, but they looked and acted exactly like another “bad guy” in a different popular Pixar film).
Perhaps I’ll come back and elaborate on this after the movie’s release on June 17, but for now I’ll leave it alone.
Why Lightyear Broke My Heart
Buzz Lightyear is an iconic character. He always will be. So adding another dimension to this co-star of the Toy Story movies is no small feat.
I’m not sure what I expected walking into Lightyear, but I know I expected to feel better than I did walking out.
I mentioned earlier that I felt the screenwriters were asking us to forget too much of what made us fall in love with the toys in the first place. But even if this film was supposed to be based on the made up movie that was Buzz’s backstory as a toy, it took a lot of liberties.
You know when people see something shocking or just unpleasant and then they say, “I can never unsee that”? That’s a bit of how I feel. I don’t know if they’re trying to build a new franchise off of “young Buzz”, but it felt like this was not the end of this Milky Way, metaphorically speaking.
Lightyer End Scenes
If you’re a Pixar/Marvel movie buff, you know you should never leave as soon as the movie is over. Lightyear is no different.
Lightyear technically has 3 end-scenes:
- Before they scroll the cast credits
- In the middle of the credits
- At the VERY end of the film after the Pixar ball bounces out and sits on top of the “I” of Pixar
The first two are quick and not especially funny or impactful, but I believe the very last one has some foreshadowing to it.
New Lightyear Ride?
We already know the Disney & Pixar teams think about EVERY element when considering a new movie or character, including how they can incorporate it into the theme parks.
You may already be familiar with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin inside of Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World…
But if you ask me (& this is only my thoughts, not facts), it seemed like Disney World was setting us up for Mission: SPACE at EPCOT to become Lightyear themed. Again, I have no evidence for that, but I’d be curious if you feel the same way after you watch certain scenes in the movie.
If you’re looking for more Toy Story fun inside of Walt Disney World, you’ll also find Toy Story Mania and the Alien Swirling Saucers inside of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Is Lightyear Family Friendly?
Lightyear is rated PG.
One Disney reviewer predicted Lightyear might be Pixar’s first PG-13 film due to “moments of peril…and over inclusion of LGBTQ+ content”. It did end up with a PG rating, similar to “Turning Red” and almost a dozen other Disney Pixar films.
Like any Pixar movie, Lightyear makes you think and stirs up interesting conversation points. If you’re willing to have those conversations with younger kids, there is no reason why you can’t take them.
Make No Mistake
One of the major theme’s of Lightyear is making mistakes. How do we react to mistakes? Do we dwell on them or try to move on? Do we forgive others? Can we forgive ourselves?
Even though this came up quite a bit throughout the film, I don’t know if it was ever fully resolved. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but this theme seemed to be out of balance with the other major storyline revealed at the end of the movie.
Disney Pixar Lightyear Happy Meal Toys
We stopped at McDonalds on a recent road trip and I’m glad we went inside because I discovered the new Lightyear Happy Meal Toys.
They have 8 spaceships with different characters in each. In addition to the spacecraft, each comes with stickers to decorate it.
Perhaps my expectations were too high going into see Lightyear (which was incredible on the IMAX screen, I will say). I’m curious what my teens will think about this new iteration of Buzz Lightyear.
I’m not saying to not go see the film, simply giving you advance notice that it’s likely not going to be what you think if you’re a Toy Story purist.
What questions can I answer for you about the film?