“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18 NRSV). This scriptural truth is embodied in Disney/Pixar’s latest animated movie, Lightyear. I see Lightyear as a parable of the dangers of stubborn pride.
"In 1995, a boy named Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday. It was from his favorite movie. This is that movie." This statement opens the film, making clear that Lightyear is a film within a film of the Toy Story franchise. Lightyear is supposed to be the movie that inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy that Andy’s mom bought for him in the very first Toy Story movie.
In this movie, Chris Evans voices the title character, Buzz. Evans does a great job of sounding enough like Tim Allen’s Buzz to show the resemblance without becoming a parody.
The movie opens with Buzz and his best friend and Space Ranger partner, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), leading a crew of 1,200 on a space mission. Hawthorne and Buzz are a great team. They know each other so well they can finish each other’s sentences. With each mission, they touch fingers and say, “To infinity and beyond!” Despite this partnership, Buzz has a penchant for doing things on his own. His pride is evident in his stubbornness, especially in refusing help from others, even from the auto-pilot. It shows in his impatience with less competent people, especially rookies. Even his tendency to monologue, narrating into his wrist device, hints at his ego. His pride is especially evident in his refusal to accept mistakes, especially his own.
Due to his mistake, the entire crew crash and are stranded on a strange planet filled with deadly plants and insects. In an attempt to redeem himself, rescue everyone from the planet, and to complete their original mission, the guilt-ridden Buzz tests a synthetic fuel to achieve hyper-speed. He fails. In the process, four years has elapsed on the planet even though it was only a few minutes for Buzz due to some time-space warp.
Despite this, Buzz’s pride won’t accept the failure. He keeps trying and trying. In a montage sequence, we see how the crew grows older and adapts to their life on the planet with each of Buzz’s failed attempts. But Buzz, obsessed with rescuing everyone, stubbornly refuses to give up despite the personal costs. And the cost is heartbreaking.
After 62 years, thanks to his adorable pet robot cat Sox (Peter Sohn), Buzz finally manages to achieve hyper-speed, only to return to a planet invaded by the evil Zurg (James Brolin) and his robots. Worse, he has only a team of bumbling recruits—Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo (Taika Waititi), and Darby (Dale Soules)—to help him fight off Zurg.
I won’t spoil the major plot twist for you. Needless, to say, Buzz learns the hard way to swallow his pride, to accept help, to work as a team, to be less stubborn, to see himself as beyond the sum of his achievements and mistakes. But the most important lesson is to see how pride and obsession can turn even noble goals and noble intentions into evil.
Buzz was so obsessed with the noble aims of righting his mistake and rescuing everyone off the planet that he failed to see how it was destroying his life. In the end, Buzz learns how his stubborn pride can lead to destruction and to his own fall.
For me, this is the movie’s scriptural gem. Some Christians might be offended by a brief depiction of a same-sex family. But I choose to focus on what is true and praiseworthy in Lightyear (Phil. 4:8). (Disney+ and AppleTV)