The staff at this inflatable-bouncy-stuff-ball-pit place would really like my kid to think she’s dancing with Buzz Lightyear, just like Disney would like us to believe that Planes is a real Pixar movie.
Actually, the staff would like the little boy celebrating his birthday to think it’s really Buzz Lightyear, whereas with my daughter, they would probably prefer if she stuck with the party she’s supposed to be attending rather than horning in on yet another little kid’s moment in the spotlight. It’s bad enough that Stella already crashed a little girl’s birthday dance earlier, repeatedly cutting in on every kid who tried to dance with Hello Kitty. The remarkably patient employee sweating inside the Hello Kitty costume would indulge Stella for a moment, give her a patient pat on the head, and then turn to another kid, only to meet Stella, who had rushed around to grab Kitty’s paws yet again.
The party Stella’s attending is for one of her pre-K friends, a little girl she’s been in daycare with since they were both twelve weeks old. The hostess, the birthday girl’s mom, is addressing me as “Stella’s Daddy,” which leads me to believe that perhaps I should have been better about introducing myself over the past five years. At another party across the room, there is a woman I recognize as a local TV weathercaster, but I note with some disappointment that she is not as cute in person. I keep glancing at her, though, and I’m sure this doesn’t seem creepy at all.
In between the kid dances, this place is playing mostly Baby Boomer rock, Creedence and whatnot, but then the overhead lights go down, the disco lights come on, and, in a touching tribute to friendly international relations between Japan and Spain, out comes Hello Kitty again to dance the Macarena.
Stella doesn’t seem quite as taken with the Buzz Lightyear who is trotted out for the boys’ parties. Probably because something seems off. Buzz is oddly diminutive. I mean, I know Buzz is supposed to be a toy, so I guess he should be tiny, but I suppose I kind of envisioned a real-life Buzz to be a strapping man’s man sort. Y’know: the kind of guy who would listen to Credence. While Hello Kitty has your typical tall, bulky mascot-suit build, Buzz seems to be constructed of foam and, I don’t know, neoprene or something, so he just looks kind of like a short, doughy guy in a poorly fitted wetsuit. But, it’s like there’s not enough padding in the suit and his face is a little wrinkly and concave, as if he’d had a run-in with an angry bookie’s hired muscle. Also, there’s something a tad unsetting about watching Buzz Lightyear dance with a bunch of little boys to the tune of “Party in the USA.”
But, none of this matters to Stella. She’s bum-rushed the floor because it’s supposed to be Buzz Lightyear, and I guess she’s willing to suspend disbelief because who doesn’t like to say they’ve danced with celebrities? “Directly adjacent to Buzz Lightyear” isn’t any more forced an attempt at name-dropping than “from above the world of Cars” or “known to party with occasionally cute, moderately famous meteorologists.”
In theaters August 9th.