Picking Apart Pixar

As I said before in my review of Brave, I would go through my own list of the Pixar soon-to-be classics and explain why some stand above others. I have different views of a couple of Pixar films (two in particular) that may turn some heads and may cause some ridicule. Hear me out and understand my position.

Pixar, ever since its inception with Toy Story, has set a new bar for animated movies. Even though Disney owns Pixar, Pixar is the reason why the classic 2D princess tales have died down. The last classic princess tale before Toy Story was Pocahontas and a little past them there was Mulan but that’s just about it from those princess-esque stories.

The reason why I put Pixar up on a higher standard is that they are consciously children’s movie but have appeal to a broader adult audience.

So, let’s get into my list from best to worst.
1. Toy Story 2– I don’t know why but this movie has such charm and memorability. It really is the Empire Strikes Back of the Toy Story trilogy. TS2 ties in actual history; the space race, the new age of technology and the culture of the toys gives good backing for what happens with the “Round-Up Gang.” The emotion that weaves through the universal  feeling of childhood reflects back to how it would affect the toys… you know… if they were animate. And don’t tell me you didn’t shed a tear during Jesse’s song.

2. Monsters, Inc.- The selling point for this movie had to be the world building. Pixar takes  the worldwide childhood trope of “there’s a monster in my closet” and and asks “what if there were monsters? What would be their reasons? What would their world be like?” John Goodman and Billy Crystal are the perfect combination for the leads; Sully and Mike have conflicting personalities but both are sensible enough to give in when they know they’re wrong.

3. The Incredibles is no superhero movie, it’s a family movie. Without the family structure of protection and responsibility to provide the movie would not work. Brad Bird lucked out with this one; in the primitive ages of develop Warner Brothers had their reigns on Bird and The Incredibles. When WB turned their head to it, Bird took his works to Pixar and slammed dunked.

4. Ratatouille- I’ve only seen this movie once or twice and it still sticks out to me. I feel people look over this one for one reason or the other. The story is simple: a grunt backroom worker of a restaurant aspires to become a chef. A mouse with a keen nose, who neglects garbage as passable food, teams up with the the worker to become a star chef… until the secret gets out of the rat in the kitchen. It’s funny, clever and Pixar doesn’t choose the low road of a talking rat!

5. Toy Story 3– The perfect ending of our toy friends. Andy, their owner, grows up from real time since 1995 and is heading to college. Time to put away the childhood things; we’ve all gone through it which is where it got its charm and meaning. The toys have to decide to live in a dusty attic or live on to be the toys of more children in a nursery. The villain, Lotso, has a believable backstory that justifies his devious acts. If there is a Toy Story 4 it’ll ruin the perfect ending, don’t do it Pixar!

6. A Bug’s Life is my wife’s favorite Pixar movie. I got it for her for Valentine’s Day because I’m suave like that. What we got is a hero’s tale of Flik, an inventor ant who has a knack of messing up, is thrust into the fake task to find warriors to defend his ant colony from the over-ruling grasshoppers. Again, the humor and story are spotless.

7.  Finding Nemo– Why is this so low? I don’t know. Probably because Pixar has such awesome movies that it’s bound to happen. The stand-out element of this story is the father-son relationship. As Marlin lost his wife and egg sons and daughters, save one injured Nemo, Marlin has not choice but to be overly protective of his only offspring. When Nemo gets taken by human divers, Marlin sets off to adventure and rescue. We all know the rest of the story. It’s classic with humor and feeling.

8. Toy Story– This may also seem less on my list but that’s only because there’s not much of a theme running through it. Still, it is an amazing story of adaptation and friendship. Toy Story truly set the bar high for future installments.

9. Brave– This is where I feel Pixar is slipping, at least to me. There wasn’t much world building, drenched in laugh after laugh that it gets so tiring, they resort to talking animals, human transformation and doesn’t revise the Disney Princess tropes enough for me to get it the credit it was looking for.

10. Cars– I never enjoyed this movie for some reason… oh yeah, I remember: Larry the Cable Guy. For it’s time, when LtCG was in his prime, was the only selling point. Who, expect for the south, like NASCAR this much to care about animate cars? The tale was too simple: a prideful and pretentious car gets stuck in the middle of nowhere town where he has to learn a lesson in humility. That’s about it. How I feel watching this movie.

11. Up– Everyone talks about the beginning of this movie and I won’t argue with it. It is a cute story of love and age. I can’t say I cried though. No soul, I know. But what’s after that? A sad story of an old man living his dreams without the one he loves… freakin’ sad. He has to carry his home on his back all the way to South America. He has to go through this journey reluctantly with an annoying Cub Scout. And Pixar goes so low as to introduce a talking dog, which I thought Pixar would never stoop that low. Oh, and his childhood hero is a total d-bag. That’s nice. It’s ridiculous, gets by on cute and didn’t do anything for me.

12. WALL-E– Where do I start? Okay, for what it was worth the aesthetics were there: the VFX were gripping and the lack of dialogue stretched the animation company. But the theme was close to hitting the audience on top of the head. I almost felt guilty and scared of the future. Apparently Pixar has no faith in the human race, we’re going to destroy Earth ourselves and get fat and live in a big spaceship til it gets cleaned up by one robot. And! we’ll get rewarded for it with a new livable planet. Kill me.

The reason why Cars 2 isn’t on my list is because I don’t have the money to waste.

That’s about it. What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my impressions? Why not?

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4 thoughts on “Picking Apart Pixar

  1. If personal enjoyment is the gauge, then this may be spot on, but Wall-E last doesn’t reflect the quality of the movie.

    I really didn’t enjoy Wall-E, but it had everything that a movie needed and more. It may be among their best.

    Cars, Brave and A Bug’s Life should be a whole lot lower, and Finding Nemo and Toy Story up higher.

    As Demetri Martin once said, “Toy Story 2 was ok.”

    • Personal enjoyment is part of the gauge but what makes me enjoy a movie is its quality. Why Wall-E is so low is because it had so many turn-offs for me (the obvious social commentary) that I couldn’t properly enjoy the movie. Yes, the robots were cute and the VFX were stellar but to me that’s not enough to make a good movie.

      Cars, Brave and A Bug’s Life are where they are because there are a lot of movies better than them and a lot worse than them, to me at least.

      Love Demetri Martin, but he’s wrong! 😉

  2. Pingback: Monsters University Review | Little to Know Sense

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