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.