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Lightyear cynically explodes into familiar territory

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A few moments in Light year, the new Pixar movie currently in theaters, looks positively filmed. Only the odd bulbousness of Pixar’s idea of ​​the human head means we’re, in fact, watching animation. It’s almost photo-realistic. In the rest of the movie, we’re just looking at a nice computer rendering: a distant, ominous planet, the big, endless maw of stars surrounding it. There is also a cute mechanical cat.

What they have visually succeeded in Light year is amazing stuff. History, unfortunately, does not rise to respond to this work. It’s a movie that’s been explained over and over and is supposed to be what Andy, the little boy from toy story who is now around 75 years old in this series’ timeline, watched and loved before acquiring his own Buzz Lightyear action figure, throwing his toy ecosystem into chaos. It’s a thin, or at least tense, premise for an expensive film from a studio whose reputation for thoughtful and unique storytelling remains quite solid, if somewhat tarnished. Light year is almost the Pixar nadir that is Cars 2just with a neater paint job.

Chris Evansplaying the role of astronaut Buzz trying to right a wrong that has stranded his people on a desolate rock, never sells the character’s joke in the way Tim Allen made for four films. But it’s not really his fault. This Buzz is not a vain toy grimly realizing the terrifying limits of his reality. He’s the real guy, so he’s a bit more serious, and certainly more directly related to the majesty of his heritage. It’s not much fun to play, so we get little of the sage Boston-area tone that Evans has ably employed in the past that could have worked well here.

The rest of the voice cast is strong. My favorite cast is Dale Souleswho plays a raspy ex-con as she did, memorably, on Orange is the new black. She is joined by a fiery Keke Palmer (about to have a big summer between this and Jordan Peles Nope), a charming stone son like the cute robot cat (if reverse-engineered by the merchandising department), and Taika Waititiwhose nice, silly shtick still has some gas.

Soulless ITNB co-star Uzo Aduba is also part of the troop, as commander of the Buzz. She’s only in the early parts of the film, however, as a time-consuming narrative conceit has trapped Buzz in his 30s while everyone else tumbles down the years as usual. This is where Pixar finds room to add some almost necessary bittersweet editing, this one to a sometimes charming and sad passage, as we saw in At the top. What once looked like such new children’s films that hold on to the melancholy of parents in the audience, presenting ironic and nostalgic summaries of life’s simple pleasures and sorrows, have now begun to feel routine, a trademark duty checked off. the list right after some sort of meme-able creature was approved by the committee.

Thematically, half of Light year is for children. The core lesson conveyed in the film is that it’s okay to make mistakes. Even though these mistakes are irreparable (like none in the movie, really), it’s very human and ultimately forgivable to have poor judgment, clumsy fumbling, etc. It’s a worthy message to the tweens that this film is most directly aimed at, as they move closer and closer to a world of consequences and peer-judgment.

The other half is for adults only. It’s very much a midlife movie, in which a man (Buzz) must come to terms with the world he once mastered has left him behind, friends and compatriots gone and living their lives flourished while mired in regret and tunnel-visioned careerism. He has to come to terms with the loss of all the years he missed and decenter himself from his view of the world. It’s exhilarating for a 50-year-old man, let alone a child.

Which brings us to Light yearToughest Problem: Why would Andy have liked it as much as he did? Sure, there’s plenty of fun robot fighting and spaceship smashing, but Buzz is mostly a mindless jerk in the movie. The hero you are looking for is Keke Palmers Izzy, closer in age to Andy and the one with the Rising Heroes arc. It doesn’t really make sense that Andy worships Buzz like he does in the first one. toy storynow that this pale and pessimistic film is linked to this tradition.

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