Its that time of year. For those of you who are Pixar fans like I am you know what I’m talking about; its the time of year Pixar puts their annual movie out in late June. For those of you who know much about me you probably know that I am a huge fan of Pixar(now Disney Pixar) and all of the fantastic movies they deliver year after year. Unfortunately I have not been able to see Cars 2 and because of most of the negativity surrounding the movie so far I think I may pass this one in theaters( its the first Pixar movie since Cars 1 I will not see in theaters). Despite the fact that I am going to miss Pixar’s latest I thought it would be interesting to try and rank their 11 other feature length films. This is actually going to be pretty difficult because I love all of their movies for differing reasons for each movie. The one thing in common that all of their movies have in common is that there is always a sort of pathos draw to all of their movies that not other animation studio has been able to tap into at this point. I will also note that these are preference based; I’m not trying to make an argument for why I think one is better than the other but rather why I like one better than the other.
Why: Cars has always been my least favorite Pixar movie and I stand by that point. There didn’t seem to be as much depth to the film as in past movies and the message didn’t resonate with me much at all. However saying this movie is Pixar’s weakest still isn’t exactly an insult. If everything you make is gold then so what if one piece isn’t quite as shiny as the the others? Cars was filled with a cast of memorable characters that make up the town of Radiator Springs. I found it to be very funny and entertaining when most of the stereotypes of a small hick town were actually pretty accurately portrayed in this movie. Cars also has some stunning animation and some great voice work from Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Tony Shaloub, and many others. Cars may be the weak link but it still stands above many other animated films
10. A Bug’s Life
Why: A Bug’s Life was Pixar’s sophomore outing in the world of feature length films and while it shows this movie is still terrific fun and boasts some very likable characters. The story for the movie is actually heavily influenced by the 7 Samurai which makes Pixar’s take on the story that much more entertaining. All of the circus bugs are hilarious in their own way and the movie makes sure that they all get their moment to shine. The animation still holds up surprisingly well on Blu-ray these days with crisp character animations and beautiful environments. A Bug’s Life is a must for fans of Pixar and highly recommended for film goers in general.
Why: Ratatouille was a great tale about a mouse that knew how to cook and a chef who couldn’t. So the mouse named Remy decides to help out the chef named Alfredo by cooking the food for him. Does this sound a bit ridiculous? Its because it is. As Pixar’s record would go on to show; they can make some amazing movies based on ridiculous sounding premises. Ratatouille still has the heart of the other Pixar movies and continues the tradition of delivering very memorable characters that definitly stuck with me afterwards. The movie was also beautiful especially when showing scenes with the beautifully lit city. Don’t let the absurd sounding premise get in the way of this great animated movie.
8. Monsters Inc.
Why: This movie is a great example of how to take an age old myth and turn it on its head. In this great animated film Pixar takes the myth of monsters under the bed or in the closet and twists it by showing that monsters are just as afraid of children as children are of them. The only reason monsters even scare children is for screams which has become their main source of energy in their world. Pixar creates this premise and gives it depth and and excitement by giving us two well intentioned but also misguided characters of Mike and Sully. The movie is a great combination of humor, drama, commentary, and charm that should make it watchable to almost any age group. The voice cast was great with John Goodman voicing Sully and Bill Crystal voicing Mike.
7. Finding Nemo
Why: Finding Nemo is a great movie that tells the tale of a father searching to his missing son. In the beginning we see that the clownfish Martin who is excited to start a family with his wife Coral. They have several eggs that are soon to hatch, but unfortunately tragedy strikes when a hungry barracuda passes by and eats all of the eggs Coral dies trying to protect them. 1 egg survives and Martin raises it by himself. Martin becomes over protective and over bearing and one day Nemo is sick of it . In an attempt to rebel against his father Nemo runs away and is taken by a diver. Martin sets out to save him and crosses through many trials and meets many unusual fish along the way. Finding Nemo is an incredible movie about letting go and the value of parents. The message is great and there is definitely some emotional appeal as many people will grow to see a bit of themselves in several of the different characters that are in the movie. The visuals are gorgeous as we get to see so many different environments from under the sea. This is a terrific film that I would recommend to all audiences because of how enjoyable it would be for children but because it also resonates with adults.
6. The Incredibles
Why: The Incredibles is an awesome movie that is filled with great family vaules, explosions, a great villain, and some gorgeous looking explosions. Its definitely the best comic book movie not based on a comic book. The movie does a great job at creating a family that is likable and relatable, a villain that is sympathetic but maniacal, a story that is filled with fun surprises and some great humor. Aside from all of these things the movie has a great voice cast made up of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jason Lee. This is probably the most violent of Pixar’s movies but it is still presentable to all ages and is still enjoyable for adults. This movie manages to get the perfect balance of character, action, story, and humor. The only word that should ever be used to describe this film is Incredible.
5. Toy Story 2
Why: Toy Story 2 is one of the few sequels that stands toe to toe with the revolutionary original. The movie brings back most of the toys and voices from the original Toy Story and tells a quite different story than the original. The second movie is more or less an adventure story that is all about rescuing Woody. The movie(which was originally going to be a direct to DVD movie) features bigger set pieces, more new characters, and more hilarious moments than the original. Toy Story 2 also brings in many new themes that created more depth to the story and the characters themselves while also setting up the eventual third movie. The idea of growing up and having to let go ofthe life you’re living were both things that struck a chord with audiences. This is another movie that I would have to recommend to all film goers.
Why: Up is the prime example of how Pixar can take the most absurd sounding premise and turn it into something great. An old man blows up enough balloons to make his house float away to a magical land as he travels with a cub scout. Once he gets there he find that his childhood hero has become deranged searching for a rare bird so he trains an army of talking dogs to hunt it. Yeah. It sounds that ridiculous. But Pixar did not let down its audience and actually delivered one of its greatest and most heart wrenching to date. The movie does an incredible job at developing the character of Carl and his wife Ellie. In the opening of the film there is about 10 minutes where there isn’t any dialog at all. We see Carl and Ellie go from childhood friends to a married couple, but as they grow older things do not work out as they had hoped. They had a dream to travel to a lost world known as Paradise Falls that is never accomplished as all of the money they had saved was used for various problems that occurred in their lives. In the end of the sequence we see Ellie pass away with her love for Carl as the only thing she has. The movie then follows Carl after all of this. It is a sequence that can easily bring even grown men to tears. This heart that the movie has is what makes it so truly exceptional. The movie does not shy away from showing the hardships that life brings, but also shows the great joys of life and why its worth living. If there was one movie I would say is truly accessible to all ages this would be the one.
Why: Some may call Walle boring; some may call it environmentalist propaganda, but I say its phenomenal. The movie takes place on an earth that has been abandoned by humans and is filled with garbage and all that is left is a single robot who is cleaning up the mess. The robot is named Walle and has been picking up garbage for so long that he has actually developed a personality. The entire first half of the movie plays like a silent movie but does an outstanding job at showing us the world that was left behind and also why we should care about the charming robot that is Walle. This is one of the times that visual storytelling is far more interesting than explaining what happened to the world with dialog. Eventually Wall-e meets a robot named Eve. He then pursues Eve back to the space station where humans have become so consumed, by well; consumerism. They all ride around in chairs and have computer screens wherever they go. They had become fat and oblivious to the world around them making them almost useless. My favorite part about this film is how there is such a great anti-consumerism message with hardly anything actually said about the subject. Everything is told visually; how people look, act, and perceive things. This is a movie that can easily speak to adults if they are willing to listen. The movie is oozing with creativity, intelligence, and originality. This is not just a great animated film but an amazing film period. This is a must for any fan of sci-fi movies, silent films, or animated films. It may not appeal to everyone but that doesn’t make Walle any less of a great movie.
2. Toy Story 3
Why: Toy Story 3 ended a trilogy that was something truly exceptional. The Toy Story trilogy was made up of films that were all equally excellent because of their amazing storytelling, excellent cast, simple but beautiful animation, and emotional appeal that spanned across generations. Toy Story 3 catches up with the gang over a decade after Toy Story 2 and Andy has outgrown them so they go to Sunny Side Daycare looking for a new place to live so that they can be played with. When they get there they discover the hard way that things aren’t as they had hoped. They story plays quite a bit off of the theme of moving on to new and different things while letting go of great things from the past. When I saw this I was dealing with those exact issues in my life as I had just finished my first years of college so my liking of this movie definitely rides on the emotional appeal of the movie. There are several other emotional moments that pop up in this movie, but I want to be spoiler free here. This was a truly exceptional movie that could bring people to tears, make them laugh, and remind many people what it is like growing up. The movie brings excellent closer to the story in the final scene and its a scene that audiences will not forget anytime in the near future. Toy Story 3 is absolutely a must see.
1. Toy Story
Why: Toy Story is a classic that redefined the animation genre over 15 years ago when it launched into theaters in 1995. The movie brought in an all-star cast made up Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jim Varney, and John Ratzenberger to create some very memorable and now even iconic characters. The movie took a concept of toys coming to life when people weren’t around and made it into an amazing full length film. This was the first feature length 3D animated film to be released and its success would change the way animation studios would operate forever. Why is this my #1? Its not just because Toy Story is an amazing movie but also because of the huge influence it has had on Hollywood and even the rest of the world after it came out. The movie was huge and managed to break down many of the age barriers that most animated films run into. Toy story was able to tell a very sophisticated story with some very sophisticated technology in a way that could never be done before. Toy Story is a land mark in the history of film making and it still stands as one of Pixar’s most recognized achievements.
Here’s to hoping that Pixar can continue to make outstanding movies.