When we heard that in Toy Story 3, Buzz Lightyear, the charmingly self-deluded, overconfident toy space ranger does a Spanish-style dance and woos Jessie the doll with unabashed romanticism, all while speaking silky Spanish, we thought, ‘Uh-oh, here we go: Hollywood’s Latin lover stereotype strikes again.’
Then we watched the movie, and Buzz’s Spanish scenes are actually among the highlights of the movie. When his system goes haywire, fellow toys look up Buzz’s manual to figure out how to reset him—and mistakenly activate his Spanish mode. Buzz (voiced for the scenes by Spanish voice actor Javier Fernandez-Peña, not Tim Allen), starts questioning them in Spanish, as if he’s just landed in a foreign planet. It’s pretty much the same way Buzz was introduced in the first Toy Story.
He lays eyes on Jessie, he sets out to woo her with poetry and dancing. The couple even dance a most proper paso doble, which the animators managed with the help of Dancing with the Stars choreographers. Is the romance a little over the top? Yes! Did Buzz have to strike a bullfighter’s pose with every line he speaks? Probably not—but somehow it fits. What you’re seeing is really a mirror image of Buzz himself: charmingly self-deluded and overconfident, only in Spanish. And to Pixar’s credit, they weren’t all over the Latin American map with his accent or cultural references, as usually happens in culturally inaccurate Hollywood movies. He was Español, through and through, which was actually cool to see.