Once upon a time, Toy Story 2 was planned as a direct-to-video cheapie in the tradition of the Aladdin sequels. Then Disney wised up and retooled Buzz and Woody’s encore into another big-screen gem. But the Mouse House couldn’t resist the cheese forever. Hence, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, a straight-to-tape travesty that flattens Tim Allen’s puffed-up space ranger into … a cartoon! While it is produced by Pixar, Buzz trades the costly, eye-popping computer images we’re used to for shoddy drawings better suited to a Saturday-morning series (which, not coincidentally, it’ll soon become on ABC).
Even with Allen resupplying his pipes, this less animated Lightyear seems strictly two-dimensional. Instead of a deeply felt tale about an unlikely friendship between an old-fashioned cowpoke and a newfangled astronaut, Buzz offers sub-Pokémon laser fights against Zurg, who’s reduced to a stock supervillain. Our hero spends more time with lame-oid newcomers like a Jabba-the-Hutt-size janitor called Booster than with old friends like Woody — who does make a cameo, though he’s voiced by Tom Hanks’ less expensive brother, Jim.
Wise viewers will fast-forward to the end credits for ”To Infinity and Beyond,” a Priceline.com-worthy anthem intoned by William Shatner. He generates the video’s only real buzz. D+