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Movie Review: Pixars ‘Lightyear’: NPR

Movie Review: Pixars ‘Lightyear’: NPR

Buzz Lightyear flies to infinity and beyond Light yearthe fifth film in Pixar’s Toy Story saga.


When it’s Father’s Day weekend and a trip to the cinema can be in store. You have many options out there.


TIM ALLEN: (Like Buzz Lightyear) To infinity and beyond.

FLORIDO: It’s of course the wonderfully full of itself Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story”. And now he gets his very own film. And critic Bob Mondello says that the animated fairy tale “Lightyear” also breaks new ground.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: A legend on screen reminds us that in 1995, a boy named Andy got a Space Ranger toy for his birthday that was based on a character in his favorite movie. This, we are told, is that movie. It begins with Rangers’ Buzz Lightyear and Alisha Hawthorne – not toys, but humans, though of course still computer generated – landing on a new planet, while Buzz stings as he usually does.


CHRIS EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) Buzz Lightyear mission log – there does not appear to be any sign of intelligent life anywhere.

UZO ADUBA: (Like Alisha Hawthorne) Who are you talking to?

EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) None.

ADUBA: (Like Alisha Hawthorne) You told me again.

EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) I was not – just did the mission log.

ADUBA: (Like Alisha Hawthorne) You know no one ever listens to them.

EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) I know. Telling helps me focus.

MONDELLO: And he has to focus because this planet is hostile, plagued by hungry vines that snatch something new and drag it underground, including their spaceship if he does not get it away in time.

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EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) Let’s get everyone home.

MONDELLO: And because he’s Mr. Go It Alone …


EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) Come on. Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As a character) Do you need my help?

EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) Negative.

Unidentified actor: (As a character) Are you sure?

EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) I’m Buzz Lightyear. I’m always sure.

MONDELLO: … He does not get away in time, and they lie down before he can reach the speed of light again. It requires testing. So with his friend Alisha in command …


ADUBA: (Like Alisha Hawthorne) I’ll give you four minutes to be off the planet. But then you come straight back to us. To infinity …

EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) And so on.

MONDELLO: … What Alisha knows that Buzz does not fully understand is that as he approaches hyper-speed, time will go slower for him. So his minutes away will be years for the people he leaves behind, which means that while he continues to test, Alisha lives a rich and full life. She finds a wife, has a son, becomes a grandmother. And because Buzz misses all those moments – and we do, too, except for quick glimpses – they gain an emotional appeal, much like the initial poison life montage in Pixar’s “Up.” To help him cope, Alisha surprises him …


PETER SOHN: (Som SOX) Hi, Buzz.

MONDELLO: … With what looks like a kitten.

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SOHN: (Like SOX) I’m SOX, your personal companion robot.

EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) What?

SOHN: (As SOX) I was issued by Star Command to facilitate your emotional transition after your departure.

EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) Oh. Well, that’s very considerate of you, cat robot. One to thank.

MONDELLO: Director Angus MacLane and his team offer a lot of applause in “Lightyear” – state-of-the-art graphics, some even made in IMAX, a pleasing level of diversity, both in terms of race and LGBTQ, smart matching of this real life Buzz to Tim Allen-tuned the toy. Chris Evans does the vocals here, bringing some of Captain America’s authority to a Space Ranger who has thick brown hair that fits the massive chin with pits and equally massive ego.


EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) I feel better just doing the job myself.

MONDELLO: As always with Pixar, life lessons abound about setting realistic goals, learning to let go of control, about how even heroes need allies, and whether these lessons are accompanied by action-packed …


EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) We are being chased by massive robots (ph).

SOHN: (Like SOX) It was absolutely scary, and I regret that I joined you.

MONDELLO: … It’s just the price of getting to the cinema these days. This may be Pixar at an intermediate level, but it is still respectable. And although the perception of sales behind “Lightyear” – the children’s favorite film creates the children’s favorite toy that requires a new original film – feels a little ominous, I would dread the inevitable SOX spin-off more …

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EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) Come on. Do not break my cat.

KEKE PALMER: (Like Izzy Hawthorne) He spins. He likes it.

EVANS: (Like Buzz Lightyear) SOX, do you like it?

SOHN: (Like SOX) I do.

MONDELLO: … If he was not so sweet. I’m Bob Mondello.

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