As is usually the case on the internet, my previous post on environmentalism sparked a side-discussion in the comments about Pixar movies. I wasn’t able to enter the fray because I was a little busy helping deliver my second-born daughter into this world, but I couldn’t let the topic go without comment. So what better way to get my blogging feet wet again after a little bit of a lay-off than a light post about the best Pixar movies. So though this is neither a political or religious post, I ask for your indulgence.
It would be nice to say that my interest in Pixar movies was sparked because of my two-year old, but I saw all of these well before she was born. We have most of the Pixar collection, but it’s not exactly a parental chore to have to sit through these over and over and over and over and over and over again. Of course now she’s really into Shrek, which happens to be a Dreamworks production. We also have a few movies from the Disney collection: The Princess Frog and Tangled being among her current favorites. And her first love will always be Pooh, that silly old bear. By and large, though, Pixar has been churning out the best of the 3D animated flicks. In fact I’d put every movie on the Pixar list ahead of any movie on the Dreamworks list save Shrek (1 and 2) and Wallace and Gromit.
So with that in mind, here’s my rundown of the five best Pixar animated films. I’d just mention that the only one I haven’t seen is the one that sparked the entire discussion: Cars (and now Cars 2).
Honorable Mentions: All of the ones not on this list. Seriously, Pixar has not made a movie that I have not thoroughly enjoyed.
5. Finding Nemo: I often overlook this one, possibly because it’s the only one we don’t own. But it’s a sweet tale that has a couple of great characters voiced by Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres. Favorite part: “Mine!”
4. Monster’s Inc. This was one of the first heavy rotation movies for my oldest. Despite repeated (and I mean repeated) viewings, it never gets tired. Little Boo is probably the most adorable cartoon child ever, and reminds me of a little certain someone. I’m also happy to hear that a sequel will be coming in a couple of years.
3. Ratatouille: This is the one that motivated me to write this post as someone mentioned that this was their least favorite Pixar movie. I thought just the opposite, obviously. It’s a clever movie that has one of the great monologues towards the end about criticism of art versus creation of art. It also never fails to whet my appetite just thinking of all the great recipes Remy concocts. As a matter of fact I could go for some brie right now.
2. The Incredibles. This is a movie that should have been nominated for best picture – it probably should have won best picture. It was certainly superior to Million Dollar Baby, and it had a far superior message to boot. It’s always risky injecting politics into a movie, especially a cartoon one, but The Incredibles had a couple of themes that cultural conservatives would have nodded their heads in approval of, especially about the importance of family. This message would have been brought home even more had one of the deleted scenes been included – one where Helen Parr, voiced by Holly Hunter, is attacked for being a stay at home mother. She defends herself by arguing that her job was tougher and more important than any other career. Additionally, the denigration of the idea that “when everybody is super – no one will be” is a blow against the egalitarian ethos. I particularly enjoyed it when Bob mocks the idea of a step-up ceremony or whatever it was that they called it when Dash simply moved up a grade. More importantly, though, it’s just a great movie.
1. Toy Story trilogy. It’s a bit of a cheat to include all of them, but it’s hard to separate them. The last installment in particular was simply one of the best movies ever made, cartoon or not. It’s actually quite dark, yet it’s not so dark that a kid is necessarily going to be frightened by it. There is one plot hole that has always bothered me, and it was mentioned on the IMDB page of the first one: if toys act so as not to make humans aware that they are alive, and Buzz is unaware that he is a toy, then how come Buzz never reveals that he is in fact alive before he comes to know the truth about himself? More importantly, why am I nitpicking a cartoon?
Update: I see that Stephen Greydanus tackled this subject, only he pondered the worst Pixar movies. As I said, I’ve never seen Cars, and A Bug’s Life is one I haven’t seen in a long time, though I did enjoy it.