The mission goes awry, leaving Buzz and company stranded on this forbidding planet. Committed to make right what went wrong, Buzz embarks on his own quest to secure their escape, though the consequences of that are both unexpected and, in the execution of them, oddly sweet and touching.
Directed by Angus MacLane (“Finding Dory”), who shares script credit with Jason Headley, “Lightyear’s” secrets really shouldn’t be disgorged to maximize the viewing experience, but suffice it to say that the film name-checks plenty of things made popular by “Toy Story” lore, from “To infinity, and beyond!” to the villainous Zurg. There’s also a small group of upstart, unorthodox recruits, with Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi (the latter playing a character he seems to have done about seven times before) among the vocal contributors.
Although the action should entertain kids with its space-faring visuals, the bigger concepts in “Lightyear” — the ones that have elevated Pixar through the years — are thought-provoking, if perhaps not of the quality that has elevated the animation studio’s work to another level. They don’t rival something like “Up,” whose lessons come to mind, and the most consistently pleasing addition might be among the silliest: A robot cat named Sox who behaves like a household pet, yet also proves extremely useful in a pinch.
Whether “Lightyear” lights up the box office, Disney+ will become its eventual home, and this genial Pixar production seems destined to enjoy a long shelf-life there, right next to all the other “Toys.”
“Lightyear” premieres June 17 in US theaters. It’s rated PG.