Five best Pixar movies
In looking back on some of my previous articles, I noticed that I've been pretty mean to Pixar. I spent most of the opening paragraph of my "Madagascar 3" review lamenting Pixar's lone mistake, "Cars 2," and then put "How to Train Your Dragon" on my Father's Day list instead of "Finding Nemo" just to rub it in.
It seems rude of me, especially considering that Pixar has been one of the most reliably fantastic movie producers since its debut in 1995. Six of the studio's twelve films have won Best Animated Feature, and only one ("Ratatouille") hasn't finished in the box office top ten of its respective year.
With "Brave" coming out this Friday, it seems like a good time to repent by looking back at the studio's finest moments.
"Wall-E," Pixar's environmental sci-fi saga, is arguably the company's least accessible feature for kids and adults alike. The main characters are mute robots who communicate with various bleeps and chirps, the only human characters are gelatinous blobs who can't move without a levitating chair, and long stretches of the film involve no dialogue whatsoever, a rarity in the usually hyperactive animated film market.
There's something incredible, however, about a studio as successful as Pixar willing to take a gigantic risk like "Wall-E." Of course, it helps when the charming robots have better chemistry together than most humans in romantic comedies, and the visuals are beautifully detailed. It's somehow hard to love and easy to love at the same time.
4. "Toy Story"
Seventeen years later, it's admittedly hard to watch "Toy Story," Pixar's debut feature, without noticing the film's age. Technology has progressed so much since 1995 that the once state-of-the-art animation now seems shockingly dated; textures, such as clothing and pavement, appear flat, and the characters' movements, especially the humans, seem very stiff. Luckily, the rest of "Toy Story" is as fresh and delightful as it was when it first hit theaters. The characters are remarkably memorable and realized, thanks to the perfect voice performances. When Woody or Buzz talk, you hear the characters, not the celebrity voices behind them.
The most incredible thing about "Toy Story," however, is how emotionally deep the film's tale of friendship is for both children and adults. The animation may have been groundbreaking in 1995, but it's the genuine emotion that still blows minds to this day.
3. "Finding Nemo"
Pixar's best movies provide something for both the adults and children in the audience. That's why "Cars 2" is so disappointing; it is clearly a kids film with only references to tide over the parents. 2003's "Finding Nemo" is one of the studio's greatest successes because it takes a topic almost exclusive to adults – parenting – and makes it resonant for children. Of course, it has the hilarious jokes and behavior that kids expect from animated films, mainly via Ellen DeGeneres' charmingly goofy Dory, but it's the touching father/son relationship between Marlin and Nemo that sticks with audiences young and old years after seeing the movie. Well, that and the "Just Keep Swimming" song.
The first 10 minutes of 2009's "Up" are the best thing Pixar has put to film. The story of Carl Fredricksen's life, told solely with visuals, never hits a false note as it moves from the happiness of young love to the tragedies of growing old. The rest of the movie surrounds Mr. Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner, who turns the old man into the grandfather the audience wishes it had) with a vividly colorful setting and even more colorful characters, such as the humongous squawking "snipe" and a collection of talking dogs. The rest of "Up" may not be able to equal the brilliant opening moments, but Carl and Russell's constantly entertaining jungle adventure get closer than any other movie.
1. "Toy Story 3"
It's no secret that the third installment of a series is always the worst ("The Godfather: Part III" and "Spider-Man 3," just to name the most obvious two). As a result, there were valid reasons to be concerned about "Toy Story 3." However, those fears were immediately relieved as soon as the film's opening credits began. The third chapter could've safely rode the nostalgia train to massive box office returns, but instead, director Lee Unkrich combined all of Pixar's best attributes – beautiful animation, ideal voice acting, memorable characters, emotionally rich storylines – into one perfect tale about growing up, letting go and the laugh and tears in between. There have been rumors of a fourth film, but I can't imagine a more graceful exit for Pixar's signature series. Plus, they're not going to be able to top Mr. Tortilla Head.
The first ten minutes of UP was the toughest 10 minutes of my life. It was one of the few dvds I went out of my way to purchase the day it came out. I don't know how many times I've watched that, I still struggle to get through the first 10 minutes, ESPECIALLY if I'm watching it with my family. ANYRATE.... Brave looks phenominal. I'm not big on going to the movies. I hate watching movies with strangers who have no consideration for anyone else in the room... with that said, I'm still going to see this movie opening night.
Wall-E deserves to be in the top three. And agreed, those 10 minutes or so in the beginning of Up might be the best 10 minutes of animation ever.
Oh come on, dude, what about "The Incredibles"? That has to be the best Pixar movie yet. This one should at least be on your list.
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