Of course, every great hero needs a great sidekick. “Lightyear” gives us Sox (Peter Sohn), an adorable cat whose job is to offer emotional support to Buzz. Sox speaks in soothing tones, sort of a cross between “Big Hero 6”’s Baymax and HAL, and will purr if you scratch his stomach. He is exceptionally good at calculations and occasionally makes a noise that sounds like “Be-boop, be-boop, be-boop!” Like any cat, Sox is full of surprises both hilarious and ominous. If Pixar’s plan was to create a character whose toy would fly off the shelves, they were successful. He has one scene in the movie—you’ll know it when you see it—that elicited audible gasps of panic in the theater. I’m not a cat person, but I was stanning so hard for Sox that I wanted to—you’re mocking me, aren’t you?
No matter. As far as spin-offs go, “Lightyear” is a lot of fun. The voice talent is topnotch, especially Palmer and Evans. They have big shoes to fill; Palmer has to build on the emotional bond Aduba created, and Evans has to give us a Buzz Lightyear that’s close enough to Tim Allen’s characterization to make us believe the film’s toy tie-in. Sohn is perfectly feline and Bill Hader has a good time with his small role as a rookie with a difficult to pronounce last name. When Zurg finally appears, he’s voiced with a deranged glee by Mr. Barbara Streisand himself, James Brolin. Hell, if his kid can play Thanos, I guess he can play Zurg.
After the lackluster “Toy Story 4,” I’d had enough of this series, so much so that I expected to file a negative review. In the immortal words of Buzz Lightyear, “Not today!”
“Lightyear” will be available only in theaters on June 17.