THB #171: Lightyear, briefly
Beautifully made, full of Pixar-y characters and gags, story that is very complex, but also, somehow, so simple a 5-year-old can follow it.
But wait… that’s not very Pixar. Not story complexity… they do emotional complexity. Hmmm…
The movie opens with an explanation that it is the movie that kids watched that made them want to buy the toy version of Buzz Lightyear.
Hmmm… don’t think about this too much. I will hurt your head.
The film is built on what would have seemed to be a heroic effort by Buzz to get his ship and its team of geniuses back home. But he fails. He fails in the way movies want us to see as heroic.
Coincidentally, Buzz’s failure quite specifically reflects Maverick’s big flying hurdle in that live-action sequel that is eventually overcome for the finale. Weird.
So Buzz and his misshapen team of underdogs end up spending most of the movie trying to overcome his failure.
Wait. Is this really a movie that children watched and chose the Buzz toy to make a mainstay… instead of the adorable cat? A movie about being an egomaniac turned failure, stranding hundreds of people, never to see their loved ones again? Huh?
Zurg is pretty by the book. And then we find out…
Not going to spoil. All I will say is that you could make an entire movie about Zurg and Buzz fighting each other. This is when the movie should be getting truly Pixar trippy. But it doesn’t.
Meanwhile… the other people left behind by Buzz in his vain attempts to save the day are wildly underestimated by Buzz.
So is this a hero movie or not? Is the real message of Lightyear to put your ego in check and not try to be a hero? That the community will save you before you save it? You are only fighting your ego?
Interesting. Not the foundation for kids loving a toy. But interesting.
That is Lightyear.
Plenty of stuff. Well directed action. Ideas floating around, mostly too obvious or too obscure to really credit as a successful discussion within the movie.
I kept thinking as I was sitting there that I was having the (forgive the pun) buzz of a decent action movie… but I don’t actually give a damn about anything. Forward motion. Surprises that never became anything greater. Characters got jokes off.
By the 3rd act, I was thinking how sad it was that Pixar didn’t get Taika Waititi in a booth with Elaine May (really nice job by Dale Soules, but she isn’t Elaine May) to improvise together and create one of the great Pixar pairs of all time.
I was looking for something special to hang onto, aside from the visual acuity of great Pixar artists.
Punchline… the empty calories of Sonic The Hedgehog and its sequel were a step better than the empty calories of Lightyear, which tried so hard, but never really found its joy and never really found its deeper meaning… just didn’t find magic.
It was fine. It was pretty. Lots of short-term memory experiences.
But to quote Morales in A Chorus Line…
“I dug right down to the bottom of my soul...
'Cause I felt... nothing.”