On the surface, “Lightyear,” the latest Pixar film is a perfectly adequate family-friendly space adventure. It’s got action, moments of peril, some epic visual sizzle and a scene-stealing robotic cat sidekick. But there’s also a very relevant theme there, lying just beneath the movie’s highly-polished surface.
“Lightyear” operates under the conceit that it’s the movie that made Andy from “Toy Story” saw fall in love with Buzz Lightyear, resulting in him receiving a Buzz action figure for his birthday. In this movie, cocksure Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) takes on the mission of figuring out a fuel source that can get a group of cosmic castaways back home.
That mission gets leveled up in difficulty when a gargantuan mystery spaceship shows up, dispatching robot drones to the planet and getting in Buzz’s way. Buzz has to set his ego aside and team up with a rag-tag band that includes his best friend’s granddaughter, Izzy (Keke Palmer), and his cat-bot, Sox (Peter Sohn) in order to succeed in his quest.
Taken at face value, “Lightyear” is an entertaining action-adventure romp. It looks beautiful, has brief moments of humor and plenty of requisite robot destruction. It’s briskly paced but still slows down occasionally to give Buzz a few emotional, tear-jerking scenes. Evans is a perfect fit for our barrel-chested hero, although he gave me “Captain America” flashbacks more than once.
It all works pretty well, but what most impressed me about “Lightyear” was something I almost missed. I didn’t even pick up on it until I was driving home trying to think up what to say about this movie. What most impressed me is what “Lightyear” is really about.
The main plot deals with Buzz burning through time as he tries to find a way to return to a world that doesn’t exist anymore. He’s literally trying to trade the possibilities of his current existence for one that’s been gone for decades. This movie is literally a science-fiction parable about making the most of your current situation instead of ruining it chasing after a past you can’t have anymore. When that realization hit me, “Lightyear” became more than just the latest family action-adventure flick.
“Lightyear” can be viewed and enjoyed as an action-packed space adventure with beautiful visuals and fun visuals. That’s perfectly fine and you’ll have a good time doing so. But this film was more thoughtful than I initially wanted to give it credit for and at the end of the day, it makes this film a richer experience.
Plus, Sox the Cat-Bot was awesome and I want one just like him.
Rating: 4 Indy Fedoras out of 5
MPAA Rating: PG
Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.