Dog’s Movie House: “Lightyear” Is Another Pixar Winner And A Whole Different Side Of The Popular Toy Story Character!

“Lightyear” tells the tale of Buzz Lightyear and his other Space Rangers who are investigating a possible inhabited planet when the dangerous flora and fuana causes their massive ship to crash land on the service. Buzz (Chris Evans) takes personal responsibility for the crash and leads an effort to build another ship to lead them home. For that, they need a stable hyperspeed fuel that requires testing. Because of the rules of time travel, every four minute test flight Buzz takes costs for years for the denizens of the planet. That means his partner and fellow Space Ranger and best friend Alicia Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) and everyone else on the base continues to age with every test until finally, after the final test in which Buzz is actually successful, he is now two generations removed from his original crew.

When Buzz gets back from his successful test run, he also finds another problem: the planet is now being invaded by the robotic forces of the Emperor Zurg and it’s up to Buzz and a trio of rookies, inlcuding Alicia’s now-adult grandaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer) to destroy Zurg’s ship and free their settlement in order to enact their plans to get everyone home. Oh, and they also have an artifical cat named Sox (Peter Sohn) who is probably going to be the go-to toy this Christmas!

I know it’s a lot of plot, but it’s really quite easy to follow. Writer/director Angus MacLane packs a fair amount of story into the film’s hour and forty-five minute running time, but the pace and the writing make the film a breeze to watch. The animation is gorgeous and the character designs, specifically Buzz, honor the Toy Story films while giving them a slightly more realistic feel. It feels like a story that would entrance a young child like Andy into wanting to relive the adventure with toys from the movie.

As for the voice acting, much has been made about replacing veteran Tim Allen with Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz, but I have to say it works. Evans brings the right balance of hero and vulnerability to the roll, making Buzz less of a cartoon character. Allen is the classic voice of the Buzz Lightyear toy, but his gung-ho, over-the-top nature wouldn’t quite fit in this film. As for the supporting cast, Palmer is great as Izzy, Sohn kills it as Sox, and Taika Waititi has some of the film’s funniest lines as rookie Ranger Mo Morrison. Special props also go to Dale Soules as Darby Steel, the third member of the team and the galaxy’s oldest parolee. She also gets a lion share of the film’s one-liners.

Now I have to address the (unnecessary) hulabaloo over the “same-sex” kiss that the media is going ape over and is apparently offensive enough to cause internet yahoos with nothing better to do than to review-bomb aggregate rating sites like Rotton Tomatoes. The funny thing is that you might miss it if you weren’t alerted to it by the media firestorm. See, Alicia Hawthorne finds love during Buzz’s first test flight and it just happens to be with another woman. The montage of flights show Buzz coming back at different times during Alicia’s life. At one point the two are celebrating 40 years of marriage together with their adult son and other friends and Alicia and her wife lean in for a chaste, brief kiss. It lasts all of a second and means very little in the scheme of the story. It’s tasteful, well done and informs a part, not all, of Alicia’s character. It’s not a big deal, which I think is the point everyone who is so damned concerned is missing. It’s a normal part of life now and should be reflected in entertainment if the story calls for it. Calling for unnecessary attention to such a brief scene invalidates the reason it was put there in the first place. Okay, rant over folks!

Overall, “Lightyear” delivers that patented blend of humor and heart Pixar is known for and is a fun film for families and people of all ages. It’s a classic space adventure that will probably make you appreciate the Toy Story films even more. 41/2 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!

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