Lightyear (2022)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Angus MacLane
Run Time
1 hour and 40 minutes

VP Content Ratings

Sex & Nudity
Star Rating
★★★★★5 out of 5

Relevant Quotes

I press on toward the goal, toward the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14
Buzz and his team ready for combat. (c) Disney/Pixar

Our children’s favorite space man gets his own film in this new film, an origin story,  helmed by Angus MacLane, a veteran Pixar director, animator, and actor. It seems that this movie is the one that Andy, in the first Toy Story movie, saw and which spawned his favorite toy.  Lightyear is a Disney first, in that one of its major characters is a black queer woman who marries and has children.

Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans), a Space Ranger in Star Command, and his commanding officer and best friend, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba ), explore a habitable planet that turns out to harbor dangerous subsurface creatures that reach upward to grab the unwary. As they try to evacuate the planet Buzz seriously damages the ship so it cannot take off into hyperspace. During the nest year the crew builds the infrastructure needed to repair the huge ship while Buzz conducts experiments and then tests various formulas for the hyperspace fuel that is needed if they are to traverse the huge distances between the stars and planets. His first test fails, and he discovers that due to the laws of relativity discovered by Einstein, he has aged just four minutes, whereas Alisha and the others are four years older. To help him emotionally he is issued a robotic cat named Sox (Peter Sohn), who provides more than just companionship, being highly intelligent.

Buzz keeps trying to come up with the right formula, but each time fails. And as he grows just a few minutes older, everyone back at the base grows years older. During the various absences of Buzz, Alisha marries a woman named Kiko. More time passes until, upon one of his returns Buzz finds his dear friend in bed dying of old age. Her farewell to him and her continued belief in him is perhaps the most touching part of the film.

Alisha’s successor Commander Burnside (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) orders Buzz to give up his mission, even though now, thanks to the genius of Sox, they have what looks like the right fuel mixture. Of course, Buzz goes against orders, and ranger and sidekick manage to steal a fighter, elude their pursuers and take off. The test is successful, but by the time the pair return, twenty-two years have passed, and a startling event has taken place on the planet.

A huge space ship has landed with an army of large Zyclops robots led by the mysterious Zurg. Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer) is now a young ranger. Reluctantly teaming up with her, plus naive recruit Mo Morrison, (Taika Waititi ), and paroled convict Darby Steel (Dale Soules), Buzz risks everything in the battle against the invaders. It is quite a surprise when he eventually learns who Zurg is—as we have known Zurg in the other Toy Story films as Emperor Zurg.

The film has the usual witty dialogue we expect of a Pixar film, the following, a delightful take-off on Star Trek being but one example of many:

Buzz Lightyear: Buzz Lightyear mission log, star date 3901: After a full year of being marooned, our first hyper-speed test flight is a go.

Alisha Hawthorne: Who are you talking to?

Buzz : Uh, no one.

Alisha You were narrating again.

Buzz:  I was not. Just doing the mission log.

Alisha: You do know no one ever listen to those.

Buzz: I know that. Narrating helps me focus.

The characters are a delight too, with Sox often stealing a scene. I love the way that he is a tech genius, yet still possesses feline attributes, as when Buzz points his laser at the floor and Sox tries to catch the little pin point of light. In one scene the occupants of the space are tossed about by the turbulence, and Sox says, “That was utterly terrifying and I regret having joined you.”

There are plenty of lessons, too, in the film to talk about with young viewers. As is usual with Pixar films, these are imparted without preaching or moralizing. Buzz fails numerous times, but like the apostle Paul in the quotation above, he keeps “pressing on.” He is as persistent as that widow in Jesus’ parable who keeps banging on an uncooperative judge’s door until he finally agrees to hear her case just to get her to stop. (See Luke 18:1-8) One fuel mixture fails to produce light speed, so Buzz, encouraged by Alisha, goes back to the drawing board.

Buzz, thanks to Alisha and others, learns that he is not defined by mistakes if he remains open to learning from them. Also, he is not the lone super hero, but head of a team working together to accomplish a mission. He would not have chosen some of them at first because of appearances, but as each person comes through, he would have no other, as we see when Buzz is ordered to rebuild the Space Rangers. This is one more of those animated films that most adults will enjoy as much as the kids. One need not go into Alisha’s status in a discussion with children, but if a child does ask about the husband being a “her,” this is a good opportunity to talk about LGBTQ issues, mainly that there are more than just “boys” and “girls” because people can be more complex than we think. Some state legislatures might be forbidding teachers to discuss such issues with children, but they can’t keep parents and grandparents from doing so. What an opportunity the Pixar people have given us—indeed, homophobes will find this a very subversive film.

This review will be in the July issue of  VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.


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