Disney Pixar Movies
Disney Pixar Films
In 1995, Pixar Films went public as a company and released Toy Story, which went on to become the highest grossing movie of the year. Up until then, the company had only done short films and commercials. Subsequent Pixar movies include A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, and the most recent film, Brave.
Pixar is known for its gorgeous animation and amazing use of cutting edge technology. The stories are heartwarming without being too sappy or preachy. Watching a Pixar flick is fun for kids of all ages.
Our Favorite Pixar Movie - Cars
Lightning McQueen is a hotshot rookie race car in pursuit of the championship "Piston Cup". His competition is a seasoned racing legend, "the King," and a nasty corporate-backed car named Chick Hicks. On the way to L.A. for a tie-breaker to determine the champion, McQueen gets sidetracked and arrested in the small, almost ghost town of Radiator Springs off the famous Route 66. There he meets Mater, the good-hearted tow truck, Sally the Porsche, and Doc Hudson, a disgruntled ex-race car who crashed and faded into oblivion. Among this unlikely bunch of misfits, McQueen finds real friendship and learns that there are more important things than winning.
This is the movie that got my son (and therefore the rest of us) started as a NASCAR fan. When we first saw Cars, we didn't get all the inside humor about the whole NASCAR lifestyle and scene, but now we do. The movie captures the excitement and fun of racing perfectly, while at the same time poking fun at the fans without resorting to mean jokes about Southern-fried, gun-toting rednecks. It also has the best soundtrack of all the Pixar movies, with songs by Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, and James Taylor.
Another hit for Pixar. The kids were laughing out loud from the first scene. If you've ever worked in a manufacturing plant, you will appreciate the attention to detail as you follow the lives of two blue-collar workers, Mike and Sully, who work in a scream factory. Their job is to go into the human world and scare little children at night, then collect the resulting screams. In the monster world, scream power is like electricity, but the monsters greatly fear any contact with human children as it is considered highly dangerous. However, one night, a little girl gets loose. It's up to Mike and Sully to return her to her own world before anyone else can find out.
Billy Crystal's performance as the voice of Mike deserves an Academy award, but I don't think they have a category for that. We love the final scene where he's putting on a Broadway style musical about their experience with the human child. "Put that thing back where it came from, or so help me!" The song If I Didn't Have You by Randy Newman did win the Oscar.
Another wildly popular Pixar film that caused the sales of clownfish to skyrocket, it won the 2004 Academy Award for best animated film. It's the story of an overprotective single dad, Marlin, and his son Nemo. Nemo gets caught by a scuba diving dentist and is being held captive in his aquarium. Marlin embarks on a search to get his son back. On the way he meets the scatterbrained Dory, a blue tang who has trouble remembering things. The pairing of ditsy Dory and neurotic Marlin is hilarious, as they navigate through several deep sea hazards to get to Nemo. A great film for kids, even very young ones, and a wonderful message for parents who occasionally find it hard to let go and let their kids do for themselves! This is a movie we have watched over and over again!
Remy the rat lives in France and wants out of the sewer, away from a life of scavenging garbage. He dreams of being a chef. He finds a young man to be his hands and feet when cooking, so to speak, in the kitchen of a famous Parisian restaurant. Since the original restaurant owner passed away, the place's reputation has declined, particularly with one food critic aptly named Ego. It's up to Remy and the young man to restore the restaurant to its former glory by impressing Ego.
Remy the rat shows us that we can dare to follow our dreams and ambitions, no matter what our starting circumstances happen to be.
When I first saw the opening sequence to Up, Pixar's latest theatrical release, I was really bummed out. Growing old sucks! It was so sad...I can understand why the old man was so crabby. These scenes sting with accuracy in portraying what life can be like for the aged. Loneliness. Unwanted change. Loved ones dying. Body parts failing. Argh! But once again, Pixar's ability to capture and illustrate life's reality in animated form is astounding.
The old man, Carl, is forced into moving to a retirement home but instead escapes by turning his house into a floating vehicle with thousands of balloons. After getting past the beginning, the story moves onto how a stowaway Wilderness Explorer Scout inadvertently teams up with the old man on an adventure to Paradise Falls. The old man and his wife always dreamed about visiting the falls, and Carl regrets never doing so while she was still alive. The funniest part is the talking dogs. My dog does exactly the same head turn when she hears the word "Squirrel." Even though the movie ends positively, I still couldn't shake the bummer feeling of how rare those "up" moments can be for a senior citizen.
A Pixar twist on cartoon superheroes. The Incredibles family has been forced to give up crime fighting due to ridiculous lawsuits and is trying to live a "normal" life. Normal means an uninspiring insurance company job for Mr. Incredible (Bob), who is fired for actually paying out benefits to a little old lady. The two kids struggle with not being able to express their true talents. There's the hyperactive boy, Dash, who just wants to run all the time. Violet is the self-conscious teenage daughter who wants to disappear, and can, literally. The baby has yet to show what superhuman quality he possesses, but seems to have a temperament as explosive as a poopy diaper. Mom Helen mirrors her superhero persona Elastigirl as she contorts and stretches to the limit juggling the needs of her family. A feeling most moms can identify with, for sure.
Bob is tempted into a secret superhero mission and dons his now too-tight Mr. Incredible suit. Eventually the whole family gets involved and it's fast-paced action and fun all the way through. It's Pixar's spot-on commentary on modern culture and family dynamics that makes The Incredibles so entertaining.
A Bug's Life
Flik the ant has an inventive streak, but it's not appreciated by the other ants who are expected to fall in line and work. But a gang of grasshopper thugs is extorting precious food from the ants every year. Flik accidentally causes this year's food offering for the grasshoppers to fall into water and it seems all is lost. He embarks on a journey to find help in the form of bigger warrior bugs (a nod to the classic The Seven Samurai) that can help the defenseless ants to fight back.
Instead of warrior bugs, Flik finds a troupe of performer bugs from a rundown flea circus. They think Flik is a talent scout; Flik believes they are warriors. The group returns to the ant colony and realize the mistake -- but the grasshoppers are coming! They must come up with a plan to save the ant colony, and Flik must rally the ants to stand up to the bullying grasshoppers once and for all.
The animation in A Bug's Life is spectacular and colorful, like nature itself. And the characters are so lovable, especially the circus bugs. This re-invention of the Ant and the Grasshopper tale is an enjoyable treat for adults and kids alike.
In the future, humans desert the earth as it has become nothing more than a massive junkyard incapable of sustaining life. The humans have been living in space for 700 years on the luxury liner ship Axiom and their muscular-skeletal systems have evolved in zero-gravity to the point where they can barely stand unsupported. They recline their soft fat bodies in levitating chairs and drink their food with straws. It's an unnerving vision of the ultimate couch potato!
Wall-E is the last remaining robot who's programmed to collect and compact the garbage into cubes. One day he finds a small plant growing in a shoe and takes it home. Eve is a probe droid; she has been programmed to find evidence of plant life and relay the message back to the humans. Wall-E falls in love with Eve and shows her the plant he found. When the humans show up, Eve gets on board with the plant and Wall-E follows. This movie finds its emotional core in the meek and humble Wall-E, a machine who follows his heart and ends up doing something great.
The movie that started it all for Pixar. Woody, a toy cowboy figure, is worried that his boy won't want to play with him anymore once he opens his new birthday gifts. One of the gifts is a new Buzz Lightyear action figure who lacks any shred of self-awareness that he is just a toy. Buzz believes he really is an Academy trained astronaut. Toy figures and dolls have a grand adventure when no one is looking. Woody and Buzz put up with each other's weirdness and become friends.
What kid doesn't share the belief that toys come alive when we're not around? It's irresistible movie magic for the kid in all of us -- a child's love for his or her toys is a real part of who they are. Who's to say that in some other alternative universe, the things we truly loved don't really come to life, like the Velveteen Rabbit?
Toy Story's animation is breathtaking feat of technology, but it's the storytelling that gives it emotional heart. The soundtrack contains You've Got a Friend in Me by Randy Newman, a favorite. Can't go wrong with this movie!
Toy Story 2
Woody and Buzz return in this delightful sequel. Woody, insecure about his standing as a favored toy, lets himself be kidnapped/stolen by a geeky but nefarious toy collector who can sell him to a museum for lots of money. Woody meets some new characters, Stinky Pete and Jesse, during his captivity. Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear and the gang are on a mission to rescue him.
The movie is full of excitement, action, wit, and humor. I'm stunned at how Pixar could communicate so much character and feeling through animated toys! As a mom, I can not forget blinking back tears as the scenes unfolded of the little girl, Jesse's former owner, growing up and eventually losing interest in the things of childhood. This is some fine storytelling, and one of the few instances where the sequel is as good as, if not better, than the original. A must see.
Toy Story 3
Another huge hit for Pixar, Toy Story 3 received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture in 2010 (The King's Speech won) and received the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film that year. In the story, the boy Andy is all grown up now and preparing to leave for college. The Woody and the gang of toys get mistakenly packed and carted away to the local daycare center instead of being stored in the attic. Absolutely brilliant, wow, how many emotions can Pixar pack into one movie? It was funny, fast-paced, dark, poignant, warm, ultimately satisfying. A perfect end to a great trilogy. I also loved the mini-tribute to Hiyao Miyasaki* with the little girl and her plush Totoro toy. I knew I would cry at the end of this one and of course I did. From the point of view of a parent, I know that the time is coming when the things of childhood will be left behind. Sob, sob....
* If you don't know the Miyasaki movies, they are so worth a look. John Lasseter, one of the principals at Pixar, is a big fan of Miyasaki's animated films and appears in the English language prologue on many of them.
If you had the chance to change your fate, would you? Merida is a headstrong Scottish princess who wants to chose her own destiny rather than have it chosen for her. She is the first female star in a Pixar film, and I think every parent of a teenage girl will identify with the tension between Merida and her mother, Elinor. But the real beauty of Pixar's latest movie resides in the epic backdrop of the Scottish highlands, steeped in legend and tradition (and often mists). Pixar has outdone itself this time using new animation software and technology to deliver a gorgeous film. It's all captured here, the splendor of the heather-spiked meadows, the moss-imbued forests, the mysterious runestones, the magnificent flame of Merida's red hair.
The plot is a conventional, Disney-fied version of a fairy tale. Fairy tales are satisfying stories, especially for children, because they follow certain rules. The princess yearns for freedom and runs away from an oppressive home life. She meets a witch who can provide a spell which can "change her fate." Only later does she realize that all magic comes with consequences. While some critics are down on Brave for going with an unoriginal direction, I say if Pixar wants to make a fairy tale, then they should make a fairy tale. And they have. Brave is a film with stunning visuals, dramatic music, and a warm sense of folklore and family.
Thumbs Up for Pixar
Pixar fans have grown accustomed to being delighted by each new release. We've also grown used to looking for these other items:
- The Pixar shorts, which often precede the movies at the theater or are included in the DVD
- Great music by Randy Newman and other composers
- The voice of John Ratzenberger, who has appeared as a character or cameo in every film
- Outrageously funny "outtakes" sequences at the end. My favorite: Monsters Inc.
The Pixar studios have produced winner after winner. These movies are all impressive, wonderful movies worthy of any family collection.
Read more: Future-Pixar-Films
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