Monday, June 22, 2015
Pixar Movies: Best to Worst
15- Cars 2
I told you that there's only one Pixar movie that I don't like. Based on recent online conversations, I'm sure there were at least a few of you that were thinking that a different movie that would end up in this spot. But no. I said that this was a hard list to create, and I stand by that, but putting Cars 2 here was actually the easiest part of creating this list. This movie was awful. The story made no sense. There were no touching moments or inspirational messages. Pixar just made a whole freaking butt-load of money on toys after the first Cars and so they made a sequel as a pure cash grab to make more money on toys. That's why all kinds of different cars, trucks, planes, and other vehicles showed up in this movie. Toys from Cars 2 were already lining the walls at the stores before this movie was even released. Pathetic. Had the movie actually been good, then fine. But it wasn't. It was a mess. The only thing this movie teaches you is that even the best people screw up on occasion.
14- Monsters University
In my opinion, the thing that Pixar does best is create fun, original movies and for the longest time, that's all they really did. In fact, they're a studio that everyone praised for their constant originality. Everyone else in Hollywood was sequel-happy, but Pixar kept doing originals. Until Toy Story 3. That movie was so good that Pixar sadly gave into the sequel-happy business that we live in today. Right after Toy Story 3, we got the disaster that was Cars 2 and not too long after that we got a prequel to Monsters, Inc., which was ALMOST another disaster. Luckily this movie had a really good ending that saved it from being a disaster and turned it into a movie that I can claim I enjoy, but that ending doesn't quite make up for the fact that the first two-thirds of this movie was really dull and pointless. Not to mention it had a few continuity errors with Monsters, Inc. In the end, it wasn't bad, but the world still didn't need Monsters University.
You're not going to believe this when I say it as Cars didn't higher than 13 on this list, but I actually spend most of my time defending Cars. No, I didn't like Cars 2 at all and I cringed when I heard the announcement of a Cars 3 (c'mon Pixar!), but I thought this first movie was fine. Owen Wilson makes a great Lightning McQueen who has a lot of good, honest character development that teaches the good message that you often need to stop and smell the roses and appreciate the small things around you. It also has some great side characters, including the hilarious Larry the Cable Guy as the voice of Mater and a fun race sequence at the end. It's a good solid movie by Pixar. It just doesn't live up to the rest of the movies on this list is all, which is a theme that you will notice going forward. A lot of Pixar movies made a huge impact on my life. Cars wasn't really one of them. It's a good movie. But that's it.
I love WALL-E. I really do. He's an absolutely freaking adorable robot that is fun to watch, especially when he meets EVE. Their interaction throughout the movie was great, as was all the small little details around the wasteland that is Earth in this movie. I also liked the idea of limited dialogue. But when I say I love WALL-E, you'll notice that I didn't italicize anything because I'm referring to the character of WALL-E and not the movie called WALL-E. I don't love the movie WALL-E. I don't hate it, but there's a lot of issues that I have with the movie that prevent me from putting it any higher on this list. And yes, you guessed it, all of those issues have everything to do with the political preachiness of the movie. Yes, I understand the opposing point of view. Many claim that there is no political aspect to this movie. But movies are a form of art and as such can be interpreted many different ways without being wrong. When I watch WALL-E, I feel like I'm watching an environmentalist preach to me about how fat, lazy, and too reliant us humans are on technology and how if we don't change, the world is going to go to crap. Yes, this distracts me from enjoying the movie. If you don't see that at all or it doesn't bother you, then I'm happy for you. I really am.
11- A Bug's Life
Now here's a Pixar movie that I think is very under-rated. This was Pixar's second outing after Toy Story and I personally think it was a very successful outing. It came out at like the same time as Dreamworks' Antz, which was odd. I don't know why we were on a bug fetish that year, but I personally thought both were decent movies, with A Bug's Life being the better of the two. The big problem with A Bug's Life is that it really hasn't stood the test of time like other early Pixar movies such as Toy Story; Monsters, Inc.; or Finding Nemo. I don't mean to say that it has become worse with time. It's still a good movie. It's just one that I feel is more forgettable. I wasn't ever in love with this movie. I've never seen it as a must own Pixar movie. There's a lot of Pixar movies that we did own and watch repeatedly growing up, but I don't think this one of them. Now that's been 17 years since Pixar released this movie, it's one that you will often forget about when you're trying to name all of their movies.
Out of all the movies that I've put on this list, Brave was the hardest one to place. As far as the release date, it was sandwiched between Cars 2 and Monsters University and was part of the underwhelming trio of Pixar movies following the epicness of Toy Story 3. What makes it hard to place, though, is the fact that this is arguably the most different Pixar movie. It's the one Pixar movie that doesn't feel like a Pixar movie at all. It feels like a Disney princess movie. Ironically, this came out the same year as Wreck-It Ralph, which was a Disney movie that felt like a Pixar movie. Yes it's true that Brave doesn't stand up to the rest of the Pixar movies. You can say it's one of their most predictable outings and thus not as creative or bold as their other movies. But maybe it doesn't deserve to be compared to Pixar's other movies. Maybe it deserves to be compared to other Disney princess movies, in which case this holds up pretty well. All of those can be called predictable if you think about it. Brave is a fun, goofy movie with very likable characters, especially our strong female role of Merida, who would probably be my favorite Disney princess if we were to put her in that category. The animation in this movie is also beyond beautiful and it has an amazing score. So maybe I've been too harsh on it. That's why it's ended up a lot higher on this list than I thought it would.
We're now in single digits on this list, which coincidentally is also the point where we go from movies that I like to movies that I love. I called A Bug's Life under-rated and I almost want to call Ratatouille under-rated because I've talked to plenty of people who haven't actually seen it. It's also one of Pixar's lower grossing films with the lowest opening weekend for a Pixar film in the 2000's. I guess people just weren't quite as interested in a movie about a rat? Which is a definite shame if that's the case. I know a lot of people who would put this in their top three. I obviously haven't put it that high as it's not quite as memorably as the eight movies above it, but this is a great movie that teaches a fantastic lesson about success. If you want to do something, don't let others tell you that you can't do it even if the goal seems implausible. If a rat can be a chef, then whatever your goal is can be achieved. Also this movie does a good job of making you hungry, so kudos there.
8- Toy Story 2
It's unfair to call Toy Story 2 the worst movie in the trilogy. That makes it sound like it's a bad movie. It's not. Instead I like to call it the third best. It may not have quite the emotion of the third or the extreme-high nostalgia of the original, but this brings back all my favorite characters from the first and introduces several more that are simply excellent and takes audience on an excellent adventure. And to think that this was originally planned as a direct-to-video sequel. Good decision to throw this into theaters. In fact that was a $485 million decision, as that's how much it made worldwide. Many still think that this is the best of the Toy Story movies as well as Pixar's greatest movie. In which case I hope you don't hurt me for not claiming the same because I love all three Toy Story movies.
This one hurts. Man, this one hurts. I know a lot of people will say that this is Pixar's best, which means if you have completely agreed with me up to this point, this is where I will probably lose you. Just know that when I came up with my first draft of this list, I had this at number two. I wanted to put it really high, but the more and more I stared at the list, the more I realized that there were just too many Pixar movies that I like better to have this that high, which is why this list has been tough to make. Up is one of Pixar's best and most emotional stories and definitely has one of the best love stories I've seen in an animated movie. It also has a lot of great characters, animal and human, as well as a ton of laugh-out-loud humor. I have no complaints about this movie. There's just six movies that I enjoyed more, which says more about the awesomeness that is Pixar than anything else.
6- Inside Out
And here we are with the most recent Pixar movie, which just scored the highest opening weekend ever for a original Pixar movie and second best behind Toy Story 3. I'm not going to spend a ton of time on this one as I just recently wrote a long review on this movie and thus I will direct you there for more details, but let me quickly say here I think this is Pixar's smartest movie and one that adults will probably enjoy more than the kids simply because they'll understand all of the references that the movie makes about the psychology of a human. It's too early to call it an animated classic as it's been in theaters for less than a week, but I definitely think this has the power to become one.
5- Finding Nemo
Did you know that when you adjust for ticket price inflation that Finding Nemo is actually Pixar's biggest hit in the domestic box office? Did you also know that the movie also celebrated it's 12th birthday last month? Crazy, right? Finding Nemo is definitely one of Pixar's most memorable movies, which is why it has stood the test of time so well. I initially had this one a bit lower, but as I stared at the list I realized that had to change because in my opinion this is one of Pixar's best. Out of all the Pixar movies, this one is almost easily the most quotable. I'd also argue that this movie has Pixar's best casting choice with Ellen DeGeneres as Dory. I was initially worried when word came out that they were doing a sequel to this movie, but when I saw Ellen's official announcement of Finding Dory and how excited she was to be doing this project, I became excited. Overall, Finding Nemo has everything you want in a Pixar movie. It has heart, it has emotion, it has adventure, it has excitement, it has humor, it has great characters, it has an amazing story, it has a great message. A definite grand slam for Pixar.
4- Monsters, Inc.
Every once in a while I run into people who don't like Monsters, Inc. and that honestly baffles me. Outside the original Toy Story, this is the Pixar film that I watched the most growing up as a teenager with my two younger brothers as this came out 14 years ago when I was 12 years old. These characters, specifically Mike and Sully, are just as much classics as the Toy Story characters. John Goodman and Billy Crystal have had long, successful careers, but when I think of both of them, this movie is what comes to my mind first as the two of them are the perfect voice actors for these two characters. As far as this movie goes, I also think it's probably Pixar's most clever idea as they take this long-standing idea of having monsters in your closet and spin it so that the monsters are just doing it as a job to power their world and are in fact terrified of kids. Just like what I said with Findning Nemo, this is an all-around perfect movie for Pixar with a little bit of everything you want from a Pixar movie. In fact, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo are pretty equal in my eyes. So much so that I can't really even explain why I give the slight edge to Monsters, Inc.
3- The Incredibles
We're on the home stretch with this list and this top five has been really difficult to put together because of how close all of these movies are in terms of greatness. Being honest, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo may better all around Pixar movies than The Incredibles, but I made the decision to put The Incredibles ahead of both of them because there is one area where The Incredibles has a huge advantage. That's the fact that in my opinion The Incredibles is by far the most entertaining Pixar movie. It's also the only superhero movie they've done and I have a special place in my heart for superhero movies. Speaking of which, forget about this list for a second. A couple of years back I created a list of my personal favorite superhero movies and this movie was on there. There's been a whole slew of new superhero movies that have come out since I did that list that would require a revision of that list, but I'm pretty sure that The Incredibles would still make it. It's THAT good. It's a wildly entertaining ride from beginning to end, so of course it belongs high on this list. I'm so glad they finally announced they are doing a sequel because this is the one movie that everyone has been begging Pixar to do a sequel for.
2- Toy Story
If you've actually read this whole blog instead of just looking at the titles, first off congratulations. Go reward yourself. But second, you probably saw this coming because I have referenced Toy Story several times now. I love Toy Story. It came out when I was only six years old and I watched the movie more times than I can probably count and have enjoyed it every time. I love these characters. I owned a Buzz growing up. My brother had a Woody. One of us had a Mr. Potato Head. It was also such a great idea because all of us have imagined our own toys coming to life when we aren't watching and thus this is very relatable to every kid. The animation in this is also incredible. This came out in 1995, which was 20 years ago and yet it still holds up today. Before Toy Story came out, the only animated movies that really came out were by Disney. Now because of Toy Story, we have an almost countless number of animation studios that have created a whole bunch of great movies. Toy Story was revolutionary. So not only is Toy Story an excellent movie on it's own right, but I have Toy Story to thank for pretty much every animated movie that has come in the last 20 years. Of course I had to put it this high. In fact, the only Pixar movie to top the original Toy Story for me is, of course...
1- Toy Story 3
Yup. And if you've talked to me in person you should know that this was no surprise. I've said many times that this was a hard list to make. The easiest movie to place was Cars 2 as the worst. The second easiest was Toy Story 3. In fact, these are the only two movies that have stayed in the same spot among my many revisions. What makes Toy Story 3 so good is the high level of nostalgia that it brought with it. Like I said, I grew up with Toy Story. I watched it so many times growing up and absolutely loved all of the characters. It's crazy to think that there was a 15 year difference between Toy Story and Toy Story 3, but when the third chapter was finally done, they picked the perfect subject matter as it was about Andy going off to college for the first time and having to say goodbye to all of his toys. Not only was this nostalgic and sad because I loved the characters in Toy Story, but it was a very personal one for me because it reminded me of my childhood, specifically all my toys and stuffed animals that I had growing up and how much fun I had with them. All of those memories just flooded in and I couldn't hold it in. I'm not a crier when it comes to movies. Not that I have anything against crying, I just don't cry during movies, but this is one of those movies that almost got me. Twice. Such a perfect movie. It was also the perfect ending to the perfect trilogy. Then Pixar announced Toy Story 4. Uhhhhhhhhhhhh......... in Pixar we trust? Maybe?