Christmas 2010 became the time I caught up with Pixar movies I hadn’t previously seen. It was the year that they completed the perfect trilogy with the sublime Toy Story 3 and the year I finally got round to seeing Up and Wall-e. On watching these three movies I realised something, Pixar have released 11 feature films and counting and amazingly every single one has been a hit. Not just box office numbers but most are hailed by the critics, most important however are the children who flock to these films in their drones, accompanied by their more than willing parents.
Those willing parents are more the key to success of Pixar than the children in some respects. They’re films are not just kids films, they deal with very adult issues and more often that not have very sly comedy winks to the more mature viewer. Here are some examples for you…
When have you ever known an animated kids film to not only portray a “post apocalyptic” type world but deal with it as an issue?
How many animated kids films have you seen that have a geriatric as the lead?
Or deal with real issues of pain and loss?
There have been some Disney features in the past that have dealt with similar issues but they dress it up. Studio Ghibli are very much about these issues however they’re appeal is not as universal as Pixar.
The animators and the Directors clearly treat their films with the same love and attention to detail as any Oscar best picture. Each film is heavy and funny enough for adults and fun and exciting for the little nippers. Even when Pixar dip their toes into the safer warmer waters of more kid-centric fare (ala Cars or Bugs Life), they create such vivid characters that appeal to children hugely, and you only have to compare the merchandise of Cars to other Pixar movies to see just where its success lies. Cars 2 is this years Pixar release, no doubt critics will pounce on it as they did the first Cars but I’ll still go and see it, especially with the news that the accompanying Pixar short is Ken and Barbie from Toy Story 3 on their Hawaiian honeymoon.
Yes this is a feature where I gush about Pixar a lot but I really do love their films. Toy Story 3 is a heart breaking end to a trilogy that surpasses any I have watched; even the greats like the original Star Wars had their bad points (ewoks). Toy Story has none and only got stronger in animation and emotional clout as the films went on. As Andy grew the inevitable severance from his Toys was always going to deliver the biggest punch and who didn’t, at least just for a second think that they might just end it in the furnace? Who can tell me that when the Toys blankly looked at each other and held hands to accept death that they didn’t feel for those computer animated Child’s Playthings.
Films like Up and Wall-E have ace’s in the from of their characters, Up’s Mr Fredrickson is a grumpy old man and my son (4) pretends to be him! Dug is one of the greatest characters they have ever come up with, the voice is perfect and with the facial expressions un-changed like a real dog (not Disney grins and human traits) everything he says is hilarious! Wall-E is a whole different kettle of fish, a robot who can not speak to convey emotions and yet you fell for him almost instantly, his eyes like big puppy dogs and his beeps and blips so emotive. A love between two robots and an outer-space “dance” sequence that would give anyone on strictly a run for their money; it all comes together in what is simply a great story thanks to these voiceless characters.
Until this year Finding Nemo was my favourite though, its tale of a fathers search for his son against impossible odds is incredible and moving. It’s visually stunning and like The Incredibles has real family Drama beating at the heart of it. What Father hasn’t been a bit over protective and terrified when they’ve lost their child? What family hasn’t had to deal with some of the more real issues that are shoe horned into a Watchmen type super hero story? All of these things make the characters real and recognizable despite the fact their fishes or can stretch their body to make a boat.
Pixar also love playing with your perceptions as well, did you think you’d see a fancy French kitchen run by rats, or that one of them is a fine chef? Did you know that the monsters hiding in your cupboard are more scared of you then you are of them? These films make fine comedy flair by flipping common ideas on their head, Ratatouille more so than Monsters Inc. The latter has incredibly dense design and who can blame them with a whole new Monster world to build from scratch; it also includes the cutest Pixar character in boo. The Monsters are also set to return to our screens in 2012!
So there you have it, the reasons I think Pixar is one of the greatest Film Studios of all time. Now the Academy will shove Toys Story 3 in best animated film category when it really belongs in best picture.