No matter what audiences expected from “Lightyear,” a resemblance to “Up” probably wasn’t it. “Up,” however, is exactly what the most moving segment of Angus McClane’s movie channels during a montage in which Buzz Lightyear attempts to complete his mission and jumps several years into the future each time that he fails. For Buzz, these mistakes make up a few minutes. For his dear friend Commander Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) and the humans stranded on T’Kani Prime, however, it’s enough time to fall in love or start a family. Every time that Buzz returns, we see Hawthorne’s life and the T’Kani Prime settlement expand. These changes are lovely, funny, and — eventually — heart-shattering.
62 years. That’s how much time Buzz misses with the only friends he has left. Their lives pass by in the blink of an eye while he is trying to serve the mission. When, after a deflating and desperate attempt, he returns to Hawthorne’s quarters and finds an almost empty room, the audience knows instantly what has happened: Hawthorne passed while Buzz was gone. His devotion to making things right cost him the chance to say goodbye.
Buzz doesn’t fully comprehend the weight of this revelation at first (although, given the tears he sheds, it’s still quite heavy), but anyone watching will. Will Buzz come to understand that he’s more than his accomplishments and mistakes? That is the haunting question that “Lightyear” asks, and it’s never more clear than during this sequence.