Review by Rich Cline | 4/5

dir Angus MacLane
prd Galyn Susman
scr Jason Headley, Angus MacLane
voices Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Uzo Aduba, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Bill Hader, Efren Ramirez, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Keira Hairston
release US/UK 17.Jun.22
22/US Pixar 1h40

evans palmer aduba
See also:
Toy Story Toy Story 4

Is it streaming?

buzz and sox
Presented as the movie that made Buzz Lightyear the must-have toy of 1995, this Toy Story spinoff is packed with summer blockbuster thrills. Smart and inventive, it's a rollicking space adventure that's peppered with hilarious gags and knowing nods to iconic movies, while recounting a sparky tale about the importance of teamwork. This message comes through strongly without ever getting in the way of the riotous fun and spectacular animation.
Space Ranger Buzz (voiced by Evans) and Commander Hawthorne (Aduba) are escorting 1,000 people back to Earth when they're stranded on a hostile planet. After establishing a base, Buzz is charged with testing the fuel cell to get them moving again. But each test bends his timeline, returning him after many years have passed. Eventually, he returns to find the planet taken over by a robot army led by Zurg (Brolin). To save everyone, Buzz must team up with Hawthorne's granddaughter Izzy (Palmer), two outcasts (Taititi and Soules) and his android companion cat Sox (Sohn).
Witty running jokes abound, from the planet's irrepressibly grabby green vines and giant bugs to Sox's seemingly endless series of resourceful surprises. And all of this feeds into the narrative's delightful trajectory, with likeably quirky characters who are put into one nutty scenario after another, forcing them to think laterally in order to move forward. And the animators excel in creating dazzling imagery that can stand alongside any live-action sci-fi epic.

While the settings and action are often photorealistic and weighty, the characters' heightened cartoon style is well-used to make them seriously huggable. The excellent voice cast invests attitude and resonant emotions into each figure on screen. Even the robot villains are so cool that they're likely to become in-demand toys. Although they can't compare to Sox on that front: everyone will want a fully working version of him, complete with the cracking one-liners. Hopefully tech geeks are working on that already.

As usual, the wizards at Pixar pay as much attention to the script as to the visuals. So while this feels like a freewheeling space romp, there are underlying traits motivating each of the characters, from Buzz's inner need to save everyone to Izzy's fear of space and the way her cohorts have been discarded by society. Even the gung-ho military attitudes are superbly tempered with honesty, as there's no room for bullheadedness when loved ones are in danger. All of this is presented with a wonderfully light touch, including a final note about the need to keep looking forward, not back.

cert pg themes, violence 11.Jun.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall