I saw Pixar’s latest film, Up, this past Saturday in 3D. Once again, Pixar produced a phenomenal film. Where do I rank it amongst the rest of the Pixar library? This is my opinion of the quality of Pixar films, and depending on my mood a movie could move a spot up or down. I had a few brief thoughts on the movies. (Each of these movies deserves their own post, and I’m sure you want to read that.)
No cop outs by going with ties.
10. Cars – This was the only Pixar film where I was bored for part of it while watching it in the theater. I’m still of the belief that this film wasn’t given the level of excellence because of the negotiations going on at the time between Pixar and Disney. Yeah, it has provided tons of marketing opportunities and is a cash cow, but it is still the weakest film in Pixar’s library. The film is good, but the standards with Pixar are higher. Rotten Tomatoes scores all of Pixar’s films above 90% fresh rating, except one. That one would be Cars, which scores a 75% rating.
I am disappointed they are making a sequel with this film, and not developing sequels for other Pixar films. However, perhaps they have the George Lucas mindset of catering to children so they can sell lots of toys. Why do I say that? I’ve tried to show Liam a few Pixar films. By far and away his favorite is Cars, and he likes his Cars related toys.
9. Finding Nemo – I enjoyed this film, but found it skewing for a much younger demographic. Plus, I’d much rather watch other Pixar films than this one when in the mood to watch one on dvd. People make a big deal about it being the highest grossing Pixar film of all-time, but there are some unique factors that played into that. (Besides, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace grossed almost a billion dollars worldwide, but I don’t think anyone thinks highly of that film.) It’s an enjoyable film, and I always enjoy reciting Bruce’s lines.
8. Monsters, Inc. – I already flip-flopped, and I’m still typing this up! I dropped this down one spot just because I have enjoyed watching the other films more on dvd. Sulley and Boo are fun to watch. I think this film sets up for a sequel at some point in the future.
7. A Bug’s Life – Any concern about Pixar being a one-hit wonder were quickly squashed like a…you know, after this film was released in 1998. Great cast of voices, originality, an ode to Aesop’s Fables and Akira Kurosawa…all positives. (Plus, this is when Pixar first starts to refer to their past works in the film. A tradition that now has people looking everywhere in a scene for some sort of reference to a past Pixar film or a tease for an upcoming one.) I think this is one of the more underrated Pixar films. Granted, I have it at #7, but I still think it is great. It just gets forgotten since it is over ten years old and was sandwiched between Toy Story and Toy Story 2.
Here’s where it starts to get difficult…
6. The Incredibles – A last second change has dropped this down to #6. When I first saw this I was blown away by what Pixar had done. Great animation and action, the script was tight, the characters were fun and the voices for the roles were great choices. It’s cool to see the family dynamics on display throughout this film. I think the reason I have it at #6 is due to the originality. Granted, most films are hardly original anymore, and there are lots of inspirations for any Pixar film. This film eerily mirrored Marvel Comics The Fantastic Four, though. Plus, it’s not like comic book based action films are rare. The film is still great, and one I recommend to anyone. In comparison to the rest of the films it came up short, and just barely with #5 film. (Check in with me next week and I might have changed.)
5. Up – A wonderful film. Pixar took some chances with this film, but it paid off beautifully. The dark tone at the outset of the film, the broken characters that carry hurts and pain due to relationships, the death of dreams…this is not your typical Pixar film and I think that’s why I enjoyed it. (The last three Pixar films have had a more adult feel to them, and perhaps that’s why they rank high with me.) How it touched on and addressed those deeper themes and still made an enjoyable film is quite an accomplishment for a film that will have five year olds watching it. Carl and Russell’s interplay is great. An original concept and script that I bought into, great characters and the voices for them, one or two scenes were predictable but that didn’t take away from it. Plus, you have apparent references to The Matrix, Star Wars and Miracle on 34th St.
(Bonus: I saw Up in 3D and that made it all the more enjoyable. What I appreciated about it was the creators not flaunting the 3D aspect of the film, but utilizing it to complement the story and add depth to the experience.)
Cream rising to the top…
4. Ratatouille – When the lights came on after I saw this film I couldn’t believe how much I loved this film. I knew Pixar would make a great film, but about a rat that cooks? Believe it. Just an absolutely wonderful story. How they came up with it I have no idea, but it is great. Even now I find it hard to sum up succinctly what I liked about it. It’s just a great film. I couldn’t wait for it to come out on dvd and bought it the first day it was released. This movie’s score was also the first Pixar soundtrack I purchased.
3. Toy Story – I saw this with a college group and remember chuckling that as a college group we had to go see the *safe* movie. Perhaps it was safe, but it was phenomenal. I remember coming out of the theater not believing the quality of movie I just saw was an animated film. The cast of characters was great to watch, and the voices for them were perfect. (Even bit parts were great. For instance, the squeeze toy aliens who worship “The Claw”.) Woody and Buzz were the new odd couple. The story was engaging (How could it not be when you have elements of Don Quixote!) and I appreciated the attention to detail throughout the film. (I liked how background shots had references to classic games and books, which took me back to my childhood.) The game had changed for films, primarily animated films, with Toy Story. No longer would it be looked down upon.
2. Wall-E – If not for my sentimentality this perhaps would be #1. An ode to silent films, subtle political stances on the environment and economics, how humanity ever increasingly lives in a virtual reality, sacrificing one’s self, and of course love…it is a brilliant film. I think it is also the most emotive film in Pixar’s library. I still find it hard to believe this movie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. It had everything the Academy would want, but it is animated and was thus relegated to the Animation category. This was the first film I bought on Blu-Ray. Liam enjoys watching Wall-E and Eve interact with one another, especially their dancing scene.
1. Toy Story 2 – This was when I became a rabid fan of Pixar. I couldn’t believe a sequel could be so much better than the original, and I was a huge fan of the original. Amazing since this film was originally suppose to be a direct-to-video release. The concepts of toy collectors, collectibles, video games and their subsequent manuals, the purpose of toys, a toy’s (human’s) lifecycle and of course friendship and loyalty were intricately woven to create a great story. And, I thought this was when the inside jokes and references really took off when you saw inspiration from Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump, Rear Window and more. A great, fun film that still retains all that ten years later. (Down in the cellar of our house I have a box of Pixar memorabilia which is primarily from Toy Story 2. Hopefully I will not be Al McWhiggin.)
So there you have it. I’m sure you’ll disagree with my rankings. Some day when I have time to waste, which is nowhere on the horizon, it would be fun to write a more in-depth piece on the films.
Let me know what you think of the rankings, and what your favorites are!
To infinity and beyond!