It’s better than the reviews/publicity. But it starts off with a message to the audience about how this was Andy’s favorite movie and that’s why Buzz was his favorite toy and it came out in 1995. And it really seems unnecessary. Like, just let it be what it is. Don’t start your movie off telling us it was a major hit in another universe. That’s too much expectation right off the bat. We don’t need you to remind us this is a Toy Story spin-off. We’re already in our seats, paid for.
The other “controversy” — the gay kiss — is the equivalent of, “Oh, you got some shit on your lip…” from the South Park episode where they say Shit. What a nothingburger. And who gives a fuck anyway. Culture war bullshit to stir up talk. I’m glad it backfired on everyone involved, whether intentional or not.
The animation is so crisp and beautiful, I take it for granted these days. The movie isn’t the groundbreaking hit we’re told it is in Andy Morris’s universe, and it also doesn’t feel like a movie from 1995. It feels like a movie from 2022, with a really diverse cast (I think Buzz is one of only two white guys, maybe three depending on what you’re counting) and a totally innocuous, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “welcome home honey” lesbian kiss.
Like most Pixar movies, this is a solidly made product. Everything in it is done by the book, and it’s pretty good, but it never launches itself into orbit. It never quite hits hyperspace. If it wasn’t about Buzz Lightyear, would it be better? Worse? Would I care? We’ll never know.
Chris Evans switches between a pretty decent Tim Allen-as-Buzz impression and himself. Uzo Aduba is fine but she’ll always be Crazy Eyes to me, even when she’s animated. Keke Palmer is her spunky granddaughter, hadn’t seen her in anything yet, I guess she’s fine here. Dale Soules (another OITNB alum) and Taika Waititi are what you expect — dry, neurotic comic relief. Peter Sohn gives himself all the best roles in the movies he’s in. He’s the new Joe Ranft. James Brolin (clever casting, Thanos’ Dad) plays Buzz’s sworn enemy Emperor Zurg who has a twist that is pretty shocking but doesn’t really work the more you think about it and IMO sort of ruins the character’s Vader-like mystique. Efren “Pedro” Ramirez is in it for a second.
Pixar needs to move on from the Toy Story franchise, but this isn’t as bad a send-off as the box office would suggest. I do however think Disney Plus and streaming in general is a hell of a lot easier for families to use instead of packing up the kids and going to the theater, and as a guy who likes movie theaters, this is all probably not a good sign.