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Lightyear: A Movie For Kids...and Beyond!

by Allison Rice 12 days ago in movie · updated 12 days ago
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Disney-Pixar releases a loving, grown-up tribute to the 1995 classic, "Toy Story"

“To Infinity!”

Any kid born since 1990 knows how to finish the catch phrase of Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger, who first appeared in the 1995 Pixar classic, TOY STORY.

“And Beyond!”

My own son was two and a half when the original Toy Story film was released. That meant that when the video came out after the theatrical run, he was the exact right age. It was one of the first Disney movies that we owned on VHS.

Arguably, Toy Story still holds up as one of the best animated films ever made. Not only was it Pixar's first full-length effort, it was also the first entirely computer-animated feature film. The moving story and stunning graphics set the bar for all subsequent animated movies.

I didn't quite know what to expect from Lightyear as I put on my Toy Story 3 shirt and headed to the theater with my best guy. Was it a prequel? A sequel? A stand-alone?

The first frames of the film help establish the timeline with the following words:

“In 1995 Andy got a toy. The toy was from his favorite movie. This is that movie.”

By that measure, then Lightyear is a prequel to the original Toy Story film, and the Buzz Lightyear toy that Andy gets for his birthday is merch from this movie. So yes, it came out 27 years after the original, but technically, it’s a prequel that inspired the events in the first movie.

If you find the timeline confusing, the plot of the new film will likely perplex you as well. It is full of time travel paradoxes, and challenges to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. I’m going to suggest that you not overthink it, but rather just enjoy this action-packed, funny romp that is visually stunning and a generally enjoyable film, despite being a bit “light” on some of the story points.

Like many “multiverse” films that are popular now, Lightyear finds unexpected humor and absurdity, while not delving too deep into character, motivation, or plot – particularly when they involve time travel.

Lightyear introduces the “human” version of the cocky, over-confident toy that we know from previous films. Turns out that the actual Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger is fairly arrogant as well, and has a difficult time accepting help. The motive of this Buzz is very clear: complete the mission at any cost. Unfortunately, his inability to trust others to do their jobs seems to be the main thing keeping him from finishing his. Much of the movie is spent as a “montage” of failed attempts to do what he originally set out to do. We see others live fulfilling lives as a solitary Buzz soldiers on, unwavering in his determination, and inflexible in allowing his comrades and friends to help.

With the possible exception of the robotic cat companion that Buzz is given for “emotional support,” most of the secondary characters are pretty superficial and lack depth. Even the controversial gay family that is featured is only a casual footnote, which, to my mind, is okay. Not everything needs to be explained and picked apart to infinity…and beyond. It’s okay to have representation without complex explanation.

Arguably, the Sox character steals the show!

As viewers, we know that Buzz will only find success if he changes his ways and allows his unlikely crew to help with the mission. The new characters that are introduced in Lightyear are a fun bunch of caricatures. I hope that we will delve into them individually in subsequent shows and films, but if we don’t that’s okay. The movie was about Buzz growing up, and about us growing up too.

Those 90s kids are now entering their early 30s and many have children of their own. With a PG rating and relatively short runtime of 1 hour and 45 minutes, Lightyear is a wonderful opportunity to introduce a new generation to the franchise, but older adults will still find it delightfully entertaining.

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About the author

Allison Rice

Finalist 2022 V+ Fiction Awards, Allison Rice is a work in progress! Author of 5 previous Top Story honors including “Immigrants Among Us” "Pandemic ABCs" and a piece about Inclusion, Alli is an avid reader, and always has a story to tell!

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Comments (6)

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  • Hadayai Majeed aka Dora Spencer11 days ago

    Quick easy to read assessment of the movie.

  • Mariann Carroll12 days ago

    Captivating review for sure. bravo 👍🥰

  • Cathy holmes12 days ago

    great review, Allison. Well done.

  • Irene Mielke12 days ago

    I love Toy Story!!!

  • Jacobie Jones12 days ago

    I was 7 years old when I went to watch Toy Story and the cinema with my dad and it has made a lasting impression on me. With a general disliking for the rehashed sequels and prequels and rebooted franchises (all in the name of making a quick buck) I nervously clicked on the trailer for Lightyear, expecting to be disappointed. Whilst the trailer didn't quite tick all the boxes my 7 year old inner child might have hoped for, your review has reignited a desire within me to once again see my favourite space ranger on the big screen. Thankyou.

  • Babs Iverson12 days ago

    Lovely review! Loving it!

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