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'Toy Story' spinoff attempt 'Lightyear' crash-lands in mission gone awry

Emirates Lightyear
Posted at 10:34 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 10:34:50-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Buzz Lightyear without Tim Allen is a dim idea.

Pixar's "Lightyear" jettisons the stalwart voice of the iconic "Toy Story" space ranger in favor of Chris Evans, who does an excellent impression of Chris Evans trying to do a Tim Allen voice.

It turns out Allen didn't miss much. The movie has the feel of one of those half-hearted direct-to-video sequels Disney used to crank out in the 1990s and early 2000s. It's a straight, basic space adventure action flick with little of the heart or depth that blesses most Pixar films.

The setup: This is the movie, released in 1995 in the "Toy Story" universe, that spawned the Buzz Lightyear toy.

As I recall, action movies in 1995 were much better than this.

Lightyear is besties with fellow ranger Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba). Marooned on a desolate planet with few resources, they work together on an experimental mission that could return them home.

Buzz takes off as Hawthorne stays grounded, and the hyper-speed travel keeps him the same age as several years advance during each test flight.

In between missions, he reunites with Hawthorne, who is probably the most prominent lesbian character in any Pixar animated film. He watches her start a life with her wife and sees her raise a child who has a daughter of his own. This provides one of the few emotional pegs to the movie, as Buzz copes with the loneliness of relative immortality.

Perhaps the most irritating character is Sox, the robo-cat assigned to monitor Lightyear who becomes one of his best friends. He also teams up with a space ranger who reminds him of Hawthorne in her heyday.

Where's Woody when you need him?

"Lightyear" — despite a truly obnoxious twist concerning the identity of his archenemy — isn't an awful film. It's just a dull, predictable one that lacks the humor or impact of every other movie in which the toy version of the character appears.

Superfans of "Toy Story" will no doubt need to check this out due to series loyalty, but don't expect to be wowed. The creative team, including the voice and heart of Buzz himself, is light years away from whatever this is.

RATING: 2 stars out of 4.

Watched Thursday night at Harkins Tucson Spectrum.

Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing phil.villarreal@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.