The opening of Cars 2 has come and gone and with it has come some “meh” reviews. Not very commonplace. Is it the end of Pixar’s brilliance? I’m gonna say no, with the original “Brave” and a Monsters Inc. prequel coming soon, but just for fun’s sake let’s rank the Pixar movies from 1995-2010 (Cars 2 excluded).
I have no clue why but Ratatouille had no effect on me. In fact it was a while since it came out on DVD that I finally saw it. When I did, I thought it was good, but there wasn’t any real magic happening. Maybe it was just the combination of rats and kitchens that got me.
For Cars it was Larry the Cable Guy voicing Tow Mater. I kinda liked him, but then I realized who was voicing him and I kinda hated him. Who knows? Also, didn’t some gas company put eyes on cartoon cars a while ago? (Chevron?)
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this, but from what I can remember when it originally came out was it competing with “Antz”. It had a Seven Samurai feel to it, which is awesome for a kids movie. It was also pretty funny with the Lady Bug and Caterpillar doing their thing.
Pixar was really flexing their muscles by making a kids movie about the monsters that are hiding in their closets. Beyond that they made some of the most lovable monsters in the process, and perhaps the cutest animated kid ever in Boo. The animation was spot on too. Did you see how many door were in that final chase scene? Also, commonly overlooked: the slimiest villain in Pixar history with Randall.
Pixar returned to their roots with the second of the Toy Story trilogy in 1999. They seemed to pull of the impossible not only by matching the sentimentality (Jesse’s owner leaving her had Kleenex moment written all over it), doubling the villains (Stinky Pete and Zurg still not as good as Sid), and even introducing Jesse and Bullseye as key characters.
Animated movie about a superhero family in hiding during the explosion of the superhero genre and still make it interesting? Sure, why not? Everyone of these characters was so compelling, whether it was Bob’s yearning for the past, Dash’s desire to use his abilities, Violent and her debilitating shyness, or Helen keeping it all together. Everyone in this movie shines, and Pixar proves it can hang with any genre.
Now we get into the good stuff. These five, in my mind are the greatest Pixar movies, not only for their technical breakthroughs but for how they affect the viewer in ways you never thought a cartoon could. How else could you have a fish losing it’s entire family, including hundreds of eggs in the first minutes of a kids movie? The journey of Marlin to find Nemo seems like something out of a Greek literature classic. The villains he meets, the friends that help him, all across the ocean just to save his son.
Before seeing Wall-E, I read a review that called it one of the best science fiction movies of all time. Let me remind you that this is the same studio that did talking fish, talking toys, and talking cars before their expansion into the final frontier. Not exactly the sign that they would make something comparable to 2001: A Space Odyssey. I took it with a grain of salt, then watched. Simply put, I was blown away. Sure not everything was good (a live-action cameo?!?), but their vision of the future of civilization stood as a warning, but one that everyone can get.
The toys are back for a third time, and hopefully the final time. It’s not that I thought the series was bad, it was the fact that the 3rd tied up the whole franchise so perfectly. I watched this with my family, and the majority of them were tearing up at the end. The toy’s lives aren’t over, but Andy’s relationship with them has come to a close. And isn’t that what the whole thing was always about? Being there for Andy when he needed them?
2. Up (2009)
In my mind, Pixar was at it’s greatest at this time. Wall-E had come out a year before, Toy Story 3 would follow in 2010, but this is about 2009, and the release of Up. I don’t think such pathos has ever been accomplished in so little time. The prelude to the story tells the life of Carl Fredrickson. From his meeting his wife when they were little to their failed pregnancy, this movie is deep for the children’s shelves. But Up taught us that even though the past is great, we can’t live it because there are far greater adventures out there waiting in the future. Which could be stated from Pixar themselves as well.
It was the one that started it all. It was 11 years ago. 11! By now the concept of computer animation is normal, boring even at times. But it was the new frontier back in the 90’s and Pixar broke ground with the tale of old versus new. Cowboy versus spaceman. Computers versus pencils. If you close your eyes, you can still hear Randy Newman wailing, “You Got a Friend in Me”.