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.