LIGHTYEAR – Review by Susan Granger

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It’s rare that Disney/Pixar movies incite controversy but Lightyear, a Toy Story origin story, certainly has. The great kerfuffle revolves around a brief, same-gender kiss that was removed and then reinstated when Pixar employees said Disney was censoring “overtly gay affection” as Disney CEO Bob Chapek reacted to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

Following the movie’s unexpectedly weak opening, U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) tweeted, “Buzz Lightyear went woke. Disney went broke.” But there’s no factual evidence proving that LGBTQ+ political pushback actually hurt Lightyear at the box-office.

A bigger problem seems to be confusion as to exactly how this animated movie relates to the iconic Toy Story franchise and, specifically, the Buzz Lightyear character, voiced by Tim Allen.

In this astronaut adventure, Buzz, the square-jawed, stoic Space Ranger, voiced by Chris Evans, is based on the mass-marketed, hard-plastic action toy doll that young Andy favored, displacing his old-fashioned pull-string cowboy doll Woody.

Buzz is a daredevil pilot with a disdain for authority. During a remote mission, his large Enterprise-like spaceship is marooned on faraway planet ‘T’Kani Prime. As Buzz makes test flights, utilizing advanced technology, there’s a time gap, each trip catapulting him four years into the future.

Since Buzz has become a “man out of time,” members of his crew are aging, having kids and, eventually, dying – while he’s still trying to achieve ‘hyperspeed’ to get them safely home.

Buzz’s closest colleague is Commander Aisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), who winds up marrying a woman. It’s their brief display of affection at their 40th anniversary party that aroused all the controversy.

Providing comedic moments, there’s Buzz’s scene-stealing robot-animal sidekick Sox (Peter Sohn), as eventually Buzz teams up with Aisha’s granddaughter, Izzy (Keke Palmer), and two other Star Command trainees: ex-convict Darby (Dale Soules) and goofy ‘Mo’ Morrison ((Taika Waititi).

Working from Jason Headley’s script, director Angus MacLane emphasizes that it’s OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.

FYI: Buzz’s spaceship’s GPS navigator (IVAN) is voiced by Mary McDonald-Lewis, who voices OnStar’s navigational system.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Lightyear is a spin-off 6 – in theaters now but should transition to Disney+ streaming soon.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.