Pointlessly Ranked is an ongoing series where…. Let’s face it.  You probably get it from the name.  We rank stuff.  It could be movies, TV shows, actors or actresses, music, team mascots, fast food menu items.  It is a ranking.  It is pointless.  Enjoy.

The whole Pixar gang welcomes a new blockbuster!

The whole Pixar gang welcomes a new blockbuster!

In honor of Pixar’s new release, Inside Out, which came out on June 19 and took in roughly 18 gabillion dollars, I am offering up one man’s list of Pixar movies.  Worst to First.  Now, I can already hear you out there.  “Another list of movies?”  And I answer you, “Yes.”  Lists are fun.  They serve no purpose other than to create arguments.  But we love to bicker in this virtual sphere, do we not?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider my day complete unless I’ve attacked someone’s ludicrous position that Guy Gardner was a better Green Lantern than Kyle Raynor.  (Green Lantern fans are laughing to themselves, trust me.)

Now when it comes to Pixar, with the exception of #15 on this list, it is very difficult to decide where each movie should rank.  The second worst Pixar movie is better than 98% of all movies that will ever come out.  Which is what makes this list fun.  Can you bring yourself to put the granddaddy of modern animated films, Toy Story, in the bottom half of the Pixar library?  How do you decide between masterpieces Up, Finding Nemo, and Wall-E?  And could a (gasp) sequel actually end up on top?  The only way to know is to read on.

Pixar_Cars2

Cars 2 proves that there is too much of a good thing.

#15. Cars 2

Summary

The Cars crew is back! Lightning, Mater, and the Pit Crew join a global race circuit pitting the best cars against each other.  But it all could be a big coverup by Big Oil to destroy alternative fuels.  Mater is mistaken for a spy.  Let the madcap begin!  (Yeah, I had trouble keeping a straight face writing that.)

What works

It all depends on who you are talking to.  Kids LOVE this movies.  Adults HATE this movie.  Trying to be fair, this is an exciting movie with lots of racing and adventure.  There is some good humor here and there.  To me, my favorite part was Bruce Campbell’s role as a super spy – basically spoofing his role as Sam Axe in Burn Notice.  And did I mention kids LOVE it?

What doesn’t work

Did you like the first Cars?  Pick your favorite things about it and then get rid of those.  The slow deliberate pacing?  Gone in favor of loud and frenetic.  Paul Newman as Doc Hudson?  He died, so his character is not there to impart wisdom.  How about the relationship between Sally and Lightning?  That’s gone too.  She is stuck in America with barely a mention.  This whole movie was a blatant cash grab – something Pixar usually is above doing.  They make money, don’t get me wrong.  But this movie seemed to be created just to justify the propagation of the merchandise mountain that Cars generated.  As a financial move by Disney, it was brilliant.  As a artistic move, this was what artists call a “sell out.”

Heart wrenching scene

There is not really a patented Pixar heart-wrenching scene.  You could say that the scene with Lightning in Luigi’s hometown would be the closest.  This isn’t really a heart-gripping movie.

Score/100

75/100.  Keep in mind that a 75/100 would make it the 3rd best animated film most years.

Pixar_Bugs

Who knew bugs could be so fun when you aren’t dumping sand back down their hills?

#14. Bug’s Life

Summary

An overly creative and inventive ant consistently puts his colony at risk due to his lack of understanding of consequences.  When the colony is threatened (due to his stupidity), he tries to save them by bringing warrior bugs to fight the evil grasshoppers.  The warrior bugs are actually circus bugs.  Is the colony doomed?

What works

The first thing that works is the vocal cast.  Pixar has always done a phenomenal job of casting actors as their animated avatars.  This movie was no different.  Kevin Spacey as evil grasshopper overlord, Hopper.  Richard Kind as his toadie, Molt.  Dave Foley as Flick.  Julia Louis-Dreyfuss as the Queen-to-be.  It really was a top-notch cast.  Also there are some really cool scenes in this movie and some really funny parts.  The scenes in the bug bar are very funny, as are the numerous bug puns.  Pixar was getting its bearings at this point.  It was their second movie and people were still getting used to the whole digitally-rendered animation movement.  So Bug’s Life gets a bum rap – it is better than it is remembered.

What doesn’t work

Earlier in 1998, another digitally-rendered movie about ants had come out.  It was called Antz and was put out by Dreamworks, featuring Woody Allen and Sylvester Stallone.  This unfortunate coincidence (Or was it?  Jeffrey Katzenberg – the K in Dreamworks SKG – used to be a big cheese at Disney. Did he steal the idea when he left?) ending up hurting both movies. Both are very good.  But they hurt each other.  There isn’t a lot in this movie that “didn’t work.”  I have always argued this movie is woefully under appreciated.

Heart wrenching scene

There were several very good scenes.  When Flick stands up to Hopper and the ants realize that they may be able to do more than they thought, that is a powerful moment.  Pixar had not mastered their trademark scene yet, though.  That happened in our next entry.

Score/100

88/100.  Like I said, not a lot of weak links in the Pixar library.

Pixar_TS2

The boys are back in town … and they are bringing back a girl and a horse!

#13. Toy Story 2

Summary

The toys are back!  This time, Woody realizes that he is actually a valuable collectible from an old TV show.  He gets stolen by an evil toy collector, where he meets Jessie and Bullseye and The Prospector.  Meanwhile, Buzz and the gang try to rescue their pal before he is gone for good.  Does Woody want to come home?  Or will he be happy to stay behind glass and be admired forever?

What works

Ordinarily, the premise of a sequel is to pull all the cool things from the movie we liked and then ramp them up. Make the scenes bigger.  Introduce new characters. It doesn’t always work.  But in Toy Story 2, it does.  Jessie and Bullseye are great additions to the story.  They feel organic.  And their eventual adoption into the clan works in subsequent stories.  The way the sequel pokes at the cliffhangers of the first movie are great too.  The puppy, the looming threat, becomes the toys’ plaything.  The new house just seems like it was always there.  The animation is also much cleaner as technology had advanced between films.  Everyone involved seemed like they were having a good time together – something that has appeared to be true through the entire franchise.  It is a fun movie and a successful sequel.

What doesn’t work

I have never liked the whole Buzz Lightyear/Zurg storyline.  It seemed like a cheap spoof of Star Wars, which is something Pixar is definitely too good to do.  They make toss a line in here or there, but to actually spoof an entire story thread?  Bush league.  I also never bought that Woody would turn his back so readily on his friends for the promise of living forever behind glass.  He is a toy at his heart.  It seemed out of character.

Heart wrenching scene

If you’ve seen this movie, you know what moment this is.  This is where Pixar figured out how to make a combination of bytes and pixels rip your heart out and stomp all over it.  “And this is a GOOD thing?”  Yes it is.  We hear Jessie’s tale of how she was loved, ignored, and then abandoned on the side of the road – all to the melancholy vocal stylings of Sarah Maclachlan.  Yes, the one who does the abused dog commercials.  This scene is so gut wrenching I didn’t want to watch the movie for a while.  And over a TOY.

Score/100

89/100

Pixar_Brave

Warning: Ginger on horseback chasing blue lights ahead.

#12. Brave

Summary

In what many hailed as Pixar’s first “girl’s movie,” a Scottish princess battles against her parents and their traditional views of gender roles, royal duties, and hair care.  She doesn’t want to be forced to marry and act “proper,” so she wishes to be free of that – with dire results.

What works

First of all, Brave is not a girl’s movie.  The main character is a girl.  That’s like saying only women should read the book of Esther or that Black Widow should only be in a rom-com.  There are a LOT of very cool things in Brave. The cinematography is unbelievable.  I had to keep reminding myself that the backgrounds were computer generated.  They seemed so real.  The characters were fun and had so much depth.  Even though Merida tries to paint her parents as cruel and demanding, they are certainly NOT.  Her brothers are hilarious.  The bears are extremely well done.  Her mother as a bear acting like her mother is a hoot to watch.  And extra points for correctly portraying an arrow being shot, complete with wobble-into-spiral.

What doesn’t work

This is tough.  I didn’t love Brave. It is a good movie.  I should have liked it.  But I never have loved it.  It is hard to put my finger on it.  I got the same feeling from Big Hero 6.  It was good, but it wasn’t GREAT. And I felt Pixar was out-Pixared that year by Wreck-It Ralph.  The Oscar went to Brave, but it shouldn’t have.  I have three kids and we have watched Wreck-It Ralph so many times.  Not so much with Brave.  I don’t know if my failure to get on board with Brave is the unfair comparison to Ralph or not.  (Not unlike my aversion to Big Hero 6 is due to its completely unjustifiable Oscar win over The Lego Movie.  Breathe, David, Breathe.)

Heart wrenching scene

Spoiler Alert:  The moment when it appears that Merida’s mother has been forever lost to being a bear was just horrific.  The guilt that crushes Merida in that moment.  The sheer loss in her dad’s face.  The animators did an incredible job of making the bear lose all human elements.  Its eyes darken, its face falls, its posture droops.  This is one of the great things about Pixar, too.  For a moment I actually believed that she was lost forever.  Pixar isn’t above having its characters end up with scars in the battle.  So it actually was heart wrenching.

Score/100

89/100

Pixar_Monsters2

It’s how the world’s best scream team met and took over Monster U!

#11. Monsters University

Summary

In a prequel to the wildly popular Monsters Inc, we meet Sully and Mike when they were in college.  They were hardly friends at that point, but fate keep sticking them together.  They ended up learning important lessons about friendship, hard work, and overcoming expectations – both good and bad.

What works

It could have been a completely unnecessary prequel.  Monsters Inc was a fabulous movie that had a great beginning, middle, and end.  But Pixar managed to surprise us again with a hilarious and moving origin story (of sorts).  We got to learn by Mike and Sully are so tight in the later (earlier?) film.  We see why Randall is such a dirtbag.  By expanding the Monsters universe, Pixar introduces some very funny new characters as well.  The other Oozma Kappa brothers are a constant source of laughs.  And the ending was surprising and very satisfying.  Things didn’t work out the neatest, but they did work out the best.

What doesn’t work

I felt the scenes leading up to the ending were a little shaky – where Mike is trying to “prove his scariness” by scaring a group of campers.  It got a little tangled, I felt.  But this is a little nitpicky.  The movie was entertaining and very well done.

Heart wrenching scene

My vote for this is where Mike is basking in the team’s unexpected victory in the last challenge – giving the entire group free admission to Scare School.  But he realizes that Sully had rigged the contest.  The realization that Sully didn’t actually have faith in his ability was crushing to Mike.  Sully had good motives, but it ended up hurting Mike more than anything else had.  We’ve all been there, where trying to protect someone actually was the most painful thing we could do.

Score/100

94/100

Pixar_Cars

Wild madcap racing action punctuated by long stretches of staring at dirt.

#10. Cars

Summary

It is a world where cars are the main characters.  A egotistical, self-centered race car gets lost on his way to the big race in a podunk town.  He is trapped there until he fixes the road he ruined.  Naturally, he learns lessons about slowing down, appreciating life, and embracing friends with a goofy tow truck, a small town lawyer, and the town judge with a big secret.

What works

The movie is gorgeous.  The attention to detail is incredible.  I loved things like the mountain ranges mimicking car fenders and the bugs being VW bugs.  As a parent, I appreciated the low key feel.  So many kids’ properties are constant noise and action.  Cars definitely was more relaxed – except for the race scenes.  There were a lot of fun exchanges with Lightning and Mater / Doc / Sally.  The race scenes were breathtaking and did NOT look animated.  The character development and interactions were stronger than anything Pixar has done except Toy Story.  You got the feeling the actors liked each other as much as the cars did.

What doesn’t work

The movie was a blatant rip off of Doc Hollywood.  It probably wasn’t, but the whole time I was watching it, I kept thinking how the plots were almost identical.  And Doc Hollywood was not a movie worth ripping off.  The other thing that didn’t work was that smaller kids didn’t appreciate the slower approach.  They got very antsy during the Radiator Springs scenes.  I remember my son would fast forward to the racing scenes because the other stuff bored him.

Heart wrenching scene

I wouldn’t say that any scene was Pixar-level heart wrenching.  But there were some very touching scenes.  First, when Sally was telling Lightning about the history of Radiator Springs, set to the melancholy James Taylor song.  Second, when Lightning realized that Doc was a racing legend and Doc went off about how he had been abandoned by that world.  And third, when The King was laying there destroyed during the final race thanks to the punk Chick Hicks (did I mention how great Michael Keaton was in that role?).

Score/100

95/100

Pixar_Rat

Vermin are not allowed in the kitchen, unless they can cook like Remy!

#9. Ratatouille 

Summary

A mouse in Paris has a bizarre affinity for food and for cooking.  He pairs with a goofy kitchen attendant and creates culinary masterpieces – turning a down-and-out restaurant back into a magnet for foodies.

What works

Perhaps the greatest testimony to the artistry that is Pixar is that THIS movie is in the bottom half.  Ratatouille is a phenomenal movie.  It is funny and touching.  The interplay between Remy and Linguini is awesome.  Janeane Garofalo plays sassy in a restrained way as Colette.  Patton Oswalt is brilliant in most things and he is wonderful here.  This is another low-key Pixar offering and the pacing is very welcome.  The attention to detail in the cooking is sumptuous – you could almost smell the kitchen at work.  It was a very touching movie.

What doesn’t work

So why isn’t it higher? I don’t know.  Something just was a little bit off. Part of it may have been the voice acting.  Oswalt, Garofalo, and Peter O’Toole were great.  But it felt like Pixar wasted some of the other actors.  Look at the backup dancers to the main crew: Ian Holm, Brian Dennehy, Will Arnett, James Remar, John Ratzenberger.  Did you know that?  All of those guys have distinctive voices that were hidden behind accents or grunts.  And I think that Linguini could have been a bigger name – like Ray Romano (although he was probably busy with Ice Age 15: Ice Trays) or Jason Alexander.  Again, it seems petty.  But I didn’t connect with a lot of the supporting characters.  And it was hard to empathize with mice.  Disney notoriously didn’t put out as many corporate tie-ins with this movie, since you didn’t want to pair food with vermin.  That disconnect hurt the movie too.

Heart wrenching scene

It has to be the scene where Linguini comes clean to the kitchen staff.  We are used to Disney movies, but we should know Pixar doesn’t always follow the rules.  The staff en masse leaves, except for Collette and Remy.  It was kind of unexpected to see characters make the logical move instead of the movie one.

Score/100

96/100

PIxar_Monsters1

The secret life of monsters.

#8. Monsters Inc

Summary

We are given a look into the world of monsters, where human screams provide energy.  Sully is a top-notch Screamer and Mike is his loyal technician.  Their way of life is threatened by a human child’s invasion of their world and a dark conspiracy.

What works

The interplay between John Goodman’s Sully and Billy Crystal’s Mike is a high point.  Pixar has a penchant for wonderful duos in their films: Woody and Buzz, Marlin and Dory, Linguini and Remy, Lightning and Mater.  I loved the creativity that came from anthropomorphizing monsters.  Of course there would be a fifty foot monster wandering downtown. Naturally, the Abominable Snowman is a real thing.  And I thought it was really funny how monsters are actually scared of humans, even though their lives are based on scaring people.

What doesn’t work

It feels like the conspiracy storyline gets the short end of the stick in the movie.  It is in there and necessary, but it all ties up too Scooby Doo for me.  Monsters Inc was also the first time that Pixar showed any signs of vulnerability with their animation dominance.  The movie didn’t stink at all!  It was hilarious and moving and very creative.  But it (rightfully) lost the Oscar to Shrek.  That was huge.  To think that another animation movie company could possibly dethrone Pixar was shocking.  So there has to be something wrong with this movie.

Heart wrenching scene

The most moving scenes in the movie have to do with Sully and Boo, the human child stowaway.  When she sees him as the scary monster he is for the first time, that is terrible to watch.  When Sully takes her home and knows he will never see her again, we see just how big of a teddy bear he can be.  And when Mike rebuilds her door and Sully opens it to see her, it makes for happy tears.

Score/100

96/100

Pixar_TS1

We’re aliiiiiive! And that is only mildly creepy.

#7. Toy Story

Summary

A child’s collection of toys comes to life when he isn’t around.  Led by a toy cowboy, the toys have a rich and fun life.  This life is threatened by a new spaceman.  The cowboy resents the new arrival and tries to undermine him.  Both toys are forced to come to grips with reality and their need for friends in this groundbreaking first movie by Pixar.

What works

Sooooo much works.  The voice acting is top notch.  Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are perfect as the folksy and blustering Woody and Buzz.  The supporting cast is phenomenal.  The story is wonderful and touching.  Everyone can relate to a favorite toy and the desire for it to come to life.  Pixar makes us care about these toys – even though we know they are both imaginary and just toys.  It is funny, touching, scary.  Altogether, top notch.

What doesn’t work

It was the first movie by Pixar.  So the animation is much rougher than later offerings.  The people in the movie look more fake than the toys.  But, at the time, that was not the case.  It was so cutting edge at the time.  We couldn’t believe someone had created all of that on a computer.

Heart wrenching scene

Pixar introduced itself with a bang.  It was not just pretty to look at; it had a heart.  The scene where Andy thinks he has lost his toys resonated with everyone who ever lost a precious plaything.  The scene where Buzz realizes he is actually just a toy was heartbreaking to anyone who realized that they may not be what they hoped to be.  Woody coming to grips with his bad decisions and his potential lack of usefulness mirrored a person who has to come to grips with their quickly passing life.  So much heart.

Score/100

96/100

SIDE NOTE HERE:  The top six in this list are all classics.  I mean, all of Pixar’s movies are classics.  But these six are beyond even Pixar’s level of genius.  Most other companies would hail any of these films as the greatest movie they ever made.  Each one of them could have (and possibly should have) won for best picture, not just best animated picture.  I feel silly even trying to rank them because the points between them is so minor.  The “What Doesn’t Work” category is so nitpicky, it almost should not be included.  I will try to give each of these pictures the attention it deserves.

Pixar_Up

Up, up, and awaaaaaay in my forty thousand balloons

#6. Up

Summary

An elderly widower faces the loss of his home and is annoyed by the constant presence of a neighborhood boy trying to become friends.  They end up on a globe-trotting adventure that teaches them both about family, friendship, and living life to the fullest.

What works

The first ten minutes of this movie is perhaps the greatest triumph out of Pixar’s library. It is so moving and powerful – and much of it without words.  I was crying by the end of it.  In fact, those ten minutes are SO powerful, that this movie actually seems better because of it.  I originally had this movie ranked second, but then my wife pointed out that the rest of the movie isn’t nearly as memorable.  She was right.  Ed Asner is great as Carl.  Russell is cute and funny.  The dog, Dug, is awesome.  And the movie is gorgeous and colorful and exotic.

What doesn’t work

I had a hard time remembering all of what happened in the rest of the movie.  There are a lot of touching scenes and funny scenes.  But the opening is so good that it kind of makes the movie top-heavy.  The plot with the old action movie star hunting a rare bird hardly carries the heft of the reality of growing old, a child having non-participating parents, and realizing a life spend hoping is hardly a life.

Heart wrenching scene

The opening. Hands down.  I cannot state this enough.  That scene alone puts this movie in the top tier.

Score/100

98/100

Pixar_Nemo

Here fishy fishy fishy. Where are you fishy fishy fishy

#5. Finding Nemo

Summary

A child clownfish with an overprotective father gets fish napped by an Australian fish-collecting dentist.  The dad scours the oceans to find him and becomes good friends with a silly blue tang fish with memory issues.

What works

First of all, this movie is absolutely gorgeous.  The colors are so vibrant.  The details in the fish, the ocean, the birds is incredible.  It is one of the prettiest movies to look at and it a great way to get the most out of your HDTV and BluRay player.  Second, the voice actors are amazing.  Ellen Degeneres steals the show as Dory.  The fact that it has taken so long to green light a Dory sequel shows Pixar’s supreme patience.  Most other companies would have been on that in a heartbeat.  Shoot, Pixar did that with Cars and Mater.  Dory is awesome.  But don’t let Ellen’s work diminish anyone else’s performance.  Albert Brooks brings the perfect (understandably) paranoid father to life.  The fish in the tank at the dentist are all top notch (Allison Janney, Willem Dafoe, Austin Pendelton, Brad Garrett, Stephen Root).  Even Geoffrey Rush’s pelican with a heart of gold is awesome.  Third, the movie is so well written.  There is a perfect blend of humor, poignancy, fear.  Every parent can relate to what Marlin is going through.  Who wouldn’t go to the ends of the earth for their children?  Fourth, there are some amazing lessons in the movie for kids and adults alike.  I personally love where Marlin asks Dory in the whale, “How do you know nothing bad is going to happen?”  She responds as we all should, “I DON’T!”  I could write an entire sermon series on that exchange alone.

What doesn’t work

The only thing to me that doesn’t completely click is Vicki Lewis’ Flo in the dentist’s fish tank.  I don’t really like her character very much.  Like I said, nitpicky.

Heart wrenching scene

Where do I start?  How about at the beginning?  The first time I went to see this movie, I walked out at the beginning.  My wife and unborn child were in Germany.  My son was away with my in-laws.  And I watched a dad witness his entire family get snuffed out.  Too much to take.  The scene where the animals are telling everyone about Marlin’s quest until it makes it all the way to Nigel the pelican.  I get chills every time.  The way that story is told is brilliant.  When Marlin thinks that Nemo is dead and decides to go to the fishing grounds?  So hopeless.  I want to yell at the screen each time, “He’s okay!”  I get choked up too when Dory is swimming around completely lost after Marlin leaves her.  She is always such a positive ray of comic relief.  But in that moment she brings some of the most powerful emotions of the film.

Score/100

99/100

Pixar_Incredibles

If everyone is super, then no one is. Except these guys.

#4. Incredibles

Summary

A superhero couple is forced to go underground when the country turns on their kind.  They now hide their powers – and their kids’ powers – until a new super villain drags them all back into the superhero world.

What works

Not only is this movie one of Pixar’s best.  It is also one of the best superhero movies every made.  As a major superhero movie fan, I loved how this movie took elements from other comic book masterpieces like Watchmen and Kingdom Come and Batman/Superman.  The vocal cast is stellar: Craig T Nelson nails the all-American super man, Holly Hunter brings a touch of snark to Elastigirl, Samuel L Jackson’s Frozone is more than just a funny sidekick.  The movie handles the “if everyone is super, no one is super” discussion very well.  And the creativity of the superhero world is great.  I love the heroes that they came up with – Gazerbeam, Thunderhead, Dynaguy.  They completely sound like old Marvel characters.  The concept of having someone like Edna Mode, who does all the supers’ tailoring work, is brilliant.  I even love the knowing, tongue-in-cheek references to superhero standards like the villain’s evil lair, monologuing, heroes busting up the city, and rubble. And even superheroes battle family issues: “We’ll get there when we get there!,” “Bob, engage!,” “I knew you’d be back later.  If you came back at all, you’d be back later.”

What doesn’t work

Beyond the normal leaps of logic that come with any superhero movie, The Incredibles is a pretty flawless film.  It doesn’t have as many warm fuzzy moments as other Pixar movies.  But I am not sure if it is supposed to.

Heart wrenching scene

The closest thing to this was when Mr Incredible is locked up with his family and he confesses how he can’t stand to lose them.

Score/100

99/100

Pixar_Inside

Yay! Boo! Ugh! Aaah! Grr!

#3. Inside Out

Summary

A look at the emotions at work in the mind of Riley, an eleven year old girl.  A family cross-country move triggers unexpected emotional upheaval.  How will the family, Riley, and her emotions handle the major life changes?

What works

This movie just came out, so I am a little worried about ranking it so high.  It hasn’t had to stand the test of time, yet.  But from a first viewing, I think that Inside Out will definitely deserve this position.  Pixar is a brilliant company and their movies are extremely creative.  This movie really brings that home.  First of all, the way that the movie takes mental processes and creates an anthropomorphic world out of them is really amazing.  I have already seen numerous features about how the mental health industry is planning on using this film to help explain the brain to people.  My wife is a medical doctor, and she kept saying how brilliant the entire film was in this regard.  Second, the casting was again absolutely spot on.  Lewis Black as Anger.  “Way to go, San Francisco.  You ruined pizza! First the Hawaiians and then you!”  Enough said.  Of course, Amy Pohler as Joy and Phyllis Smith as Sadness were also equally inspired.  Brilliant casting made these emotions even more fun to watch.  Third, the movie had some incredible BIG issues that it dealt with in approachable ways: the concept that events in life are blends of emotions, joy is only recognized due to sadness, getting older requires tearing down old views of life, change (even very difficult change) is not bad at all.  Fourth, in the age of over-spoilered films, Pixar managed to throw a complete curveball to audiences.  Every promotion for Inside Out highlighted the emotions.  Then in the movie we got a character (Bing Bong) that brought such humor, depth, and emotion – even more emotion than the Emotions.  That Pixar continues to be able to surprise us amazes me.

What doesn’t work

I wouldn’t say this doesn’t work, but there was a heavy sequence near the end that really distressed my seven-year-old.  He loved the movie, but he wanted to know everything would be okay several times.  There were some very dark scenes and overtones for a kids’ movie.  But Pixar has never shied away from those.

Heart wrenching scene

I almost cried several times.  But the most gut-wrenching scene dealt with Bing Bong, trying to get Joy back out of the Valley of Lost Memories.  It was heart-breaking, but completely necessary.  Not only was the scene itself sad, but what it represented was tough for a parent to think about.  As my kids have grown up, it has been sad to see them forget certain toys and memories, to outgrow silly words.  That all was encapsulated in one amazing scene.

Score/100

99.5/100 (just because I’m not ready to give it 100)

Pixar_TS3

Most of the gang is back for more fun…. Hey, why does Andy have that garbage bag?

#2. Toy Story 3

Summary

Andy is going away to college.  What will happen to the toys that have been a part of his life for so long?  Woody, Buzz, and what’s left of the gang navigate through the tumult of a child growing up.  They never know what is going to happen next, but they face it together.

What works

I did not want Pixar to make Toy Story 3.  I heard that once Disney bought Pixar, they were going to make the movie themselves, so the Pixar team took it over to make sure it didn’t stink.  I have no idea if that is true or not.  All I know is that what we got instead is a true classic.  It was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and seriously could have won.  From the opening scene, where we get a big-budget remake of one of Andy’s earlier Western play-times with his toys, to the perfect ending, Toy Story 3 does the completely unexpected.  It actually supersedes the original movie.  We see Andy torn between becoming an adult (getting frustrated by his mom’s reminders to get packed) to wanting to hang on to childhood (getting angry when Woody and the gang go missing).  We see a community of toys get a second chance at life at a Daycare, only to find selfishness can ruin even a happy landing.  Most of all, we see a group of friends stick together through good and bad times.  We see loyalty and sacrifice. As Pixar itself has aged, it has become very good at telling coming-of-age stories.  This movie is perfect in so many ways.  One thing I really liked is that the movie never pulled punches.  It didn’t try to keep every character in the group from the earlier films. Several big names were lost along the way, and were acknowledged as true losses.  When the toys were in extreme peril in the dump, I really wondered if Pixar may just follow through with that scene.  The fact that I even could believe it and accept it shows what the movie was able to do.  Disney movies don’t kill off major characters; Pixar movies do, though.  The reality (and pain) of growing up was never on better display.

What doesn’t work

Nothing.  Moving on.

Heart wrenching scene

There are several scenes that made me tear up.  When the story of Big Baby and Lotso was being told, it was tough to see how selfishness, insecurity, and lies could be so damaging to others.  I started crying when the mom looked around Andy’s empty room and I didn’t stop until the movie was over.  The scene where Andy gave his toys to Molly (perfect ending) was fabulous and so moving.  The toys got the one last playtime they wanted AND got a new lease on life.  But the scene that really wrenched me was when the toys were sliding down the trash pile into the furnace at the dump.  They were all trying so hard to stay safe.  Finally, Woody and Buzz realize it isn’t possible and they all just grab hands, deciding to be together to the end.  It was such an incredible scene of accepting mortality and embracing what is important.  The fact that they were rescued in a perfect hilarious way, well that just made it all the better.

Score/100

100/100

Pixar_Walle

Boop beep boop. Me love robot. Boop.

#1. WALL-E

Summary

In a distant future, a lone robot works to clean up Earth.  He meets another fancy robot, who has come to see if humanity can return safely.  It is a touching tale of love, friendship, and overcoming inertia to become something more.

What works

WALL-E should not work.  The humans in the movie are few and far between.  The main character is not a humanoid version of a toy or a monster or an emotion. It is a robot that cannot speak.  It plays show tunes – and not even good ones.  Its best friend is a roach.  The movie is preachy about environmental issues, capitalism, greed, laziness.  The villain is just a robotic voice that controls the wheel.  But, instead, it is a brilliant and touching (those words come up a lot in Pixar reviews) film.  WALL-E is a sweet, friendly, loving character – full of wonder and joy.  It has gone far beyond what it was built to do.  And the other robots have great personalities.  EVE is at first cold and determined.  But she eventually become fiercely committed to her suitor.  The “mishap” robots are more human than most of the people on the spaceship.  Even though the dialogue is minimal, or is communicated in beeps and boops, the movie is very clear in what it communicates.  I love the scene of WALL-E, attached to the outside of EVE’s probe as it races back to the ship.  He waves his hand through the sparkling dust outside, like a little boy would wave his hand out a car door.  When WALL-E holds an umbrella over EVE during a storm, it looks like a middle school boy trying to be chivalrous.  Everything about the movie was perfect.  And there actually were some good messages in the film: being careful about what we are entrusted with, refusing to settle for inferior and expected, keeping a sense of wonder as we get older and jaded.  Plus there were cool robots.

What doesn’t work

I got nothing.

Heart wrenching scene

At the end, when WALL-E has been damaged saving humanity, basically, EVE rushes to repair him.  She finds all the right pieces out of WALL-E’s stash and charges him back up.  But he defaults to his original programming.  He takes all of his precious belongings and crushes them into a cube, runs over his roach buddy, and goes to work again.  It was heartbreaking to see – which is crazy because it was a robot caring about trash.  The sadness felt was only eclipsed by the joy of him finding himself again thanks to EVE’s embrace.

Score/100

100/100

Comments

comments