Lightyear Was Amazing, But The Marketing Didn't Reflect That
Lightyear may not have done well at the box office, but that has everything to do with marketing and not the movie itself.
Lightyear is a spinoff of Pixar's Toy Story franchise. Lightyear follows Buzz Lightyear, the man who inspired the toy we are familiar with, played by Chris Evans. As revealed at the beginning of the movie, Lightyear is the movie Andy saw that made him want to have a Buzz Lightyear toy.
Although the film was marketed as a children's movie based on its Toy Story audience, the concept is not necessarily something children may have been able to grasp. Today's kids already experienced what Andy experienced; they saw a movie and wanted the toy based on its characters. However, that movie was Toy Story, not Lightyear. To them, Buzz is a toy who comes to life in Andy's room, not a man who goes through an emotional journey to find his way back to Earth. The disadvantage of changing such a highly recognizable children's character is that children are unwilling to comprehend the changes as the same character.
Then there's the ridiculous controversy behind the movie. Space Ranger Alisha Hawthorne, played by Uzo Aduba, is a lesbian, and her character marries a woman, has children and grandchildren, living a very satisfying life. Her life story plays out in a sequence similar to the opening montage in Up. It's brief, definitive, and essential to Buzz's character arch. However, some people felt such a story was inappropriate for children, and no doubt refused to let their kids watch the movie. Thus, further diminishing the movie's potential viewership.
Then, there's the theater vs. streaming release debacle that every movie has to deal with post-covid that affected the film's box office. But more importantly, the science was a little above what children can comprehend. Even the film's creators couldn't correctly define time dilation in the behind-the-scenes documentary "To Infinity and Beyond" on Disney +. If adult creators can barely understand it, how could they adequately explain it to children?
Regardless of marketing mishaps, I've learned that kids don't like the movie. I know a five-year-old boy who disliked the film, but every adult I know loves it. I enjoyed the movie very much. The relationship between Buzz and Alisha is much more heartfelt as an adult when you can empathize with all the missed life milestones. The jokes were funny, Sox was an excellent sidekick, and the subconscious scavenger hunt for 90's space movie references was exciting.
Overall, Lightyear had the potential to be a box office success akin to its Toy Story inspiration. However, starting as a spinoff for one of cinema's most recognizable characters already hindered it before anything else even happened. Whatever reason you've mustered not to watch Lightyear, I would highly suggest you ignore it and grace your eyes with the movie regardless.
Stream Lightyear on Disney+.