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Pixar's Greatest Movies

Updated on November 4, 2021
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna wrote, and directed several plays, taught acting for kids. She is a former talent scout and directs and produces.

Pixar Shorts for the Family

Pixar movies are stories with emotion, adventure, heroes, relationships, energy, and humor. Disney and Pixar collaborate on producing animated family movies. But, sometimes, Pixar shorts get overlooked as family movies by moviegoers. If you have ever seen a Pixar short, you know that much talent and creative craftsmanship went into making the film.

Pixar’s first short, The Adventures of Andre and Wall B. released in 1984, is classic for any Pixar fan. The story involves two characters: one being a pesky bee and the other named Andre with a hat. The story first aired on the Disney Channel. Pixar co-founder John Lasseter developed the animation. He wanted to create something extraordinary for his son. The film encouraged the industry to pursue computer-generated movies. Today, Hollywood supports high-quality animated films.

"Luxo Jr."

The next Pixar short, Luxo Jr., is truly the first film officially produced by Pixar, following the beginning of the independent film studio’s establishment.

The two-and-a-half-minute short film introduces Pixar’s icon, the hopping desk lamp. Luxo Jr. chases a small ball while Luxo, a large lamp, reacts to Luxo Jr.’s escapade of chasing and balancing on the ball.

Future Computer Animators

As the story goes, Ed Catmull and John Lasseter departed from Industrial. Light and Magic computer division to finish a short film for SIGGRAPH, an annual computer technology exhibition attended by thousands of industry professionals.

The future computer animators worked day and night. Their dedication proved fruitful despite the impossibility that Luxo Jr. failed as a finished film for SIGGRAPH.

As the audience watched the movie at the computer technology exhibition, they rose and applauded before the short ended. Animated films became a whole new fabric of the movie industry.

"Red's Dream"

Red's Dream is the following short film produced by Pixar and directed by John Lasseter. It was released in 1987 and is the only short that is not attached to one of the studio's family feature films.

In the audio commentary, Lasseter talks about how Ed Catmull thought the Pixar staff could make a film using the Pixar Image Computer and the rendering software Chapreyes. Lasseter and the other team began developing a tale about a circus clown outshined by his very own unicycle.

Animators Eben Ostby and William Reeves worked on their unique ideas. Ostby's idea consisted of animating the bicycle, and Reeves developed a rainy night in a city. Finally, Lasseter and the two artists pooled their creative ideas resulting in Red's Dream.

"Pixar Shorts Volume One, Two, and Three"

The animation studio offers a DVD called Pixar Shorts Volume One. Each short is a work of art in itself, definitely fun to watch with the whole family. Some of the movies mentioned in this article are available on the DVD. Pixar released two more Volumes that are just as delightful.

"Toy Story"

Toy Story is Pixar's signature movie. Woody and Buzz Lightyear go on adventures with Andy's motley crew of toys.

Andy gave his toys away because he grew up, and the toys belonged to Bonnie. She is as delightful and cute as a button.

Pixar proves that a studio can produce quality sequels without dulling our imagination or running out of quality material with four Toy Story movies.


Follow the career of Brad Bird, and you will see a brilliant filmmaker at work. He wrote and directed the Incredibles and Incredibles 2: Raising Son. His association with Pixar is longstanding and proves Lasseter can hire top talent.

The storyline is innovative and unique. It is against the law for any superhero to practice his abilities. We follow a treacherous villain who devises a scheme killing or trapping superheroes from allying to protect society.

We have a family of superheroes, with each member owning a specific superhero trait. The cleverness in Bird's creativity is taking real-life situations and writing them into the movie.

Incredibles 2 has the wife and mother going off to work while the father stays home caring for his infant son and angsty teenage daughter. With his grade-school son, he tries in vain to help him with common core math.

A typical family situation added to the fact that his kids' superpowers make the relationship more dynamic. Jack-Jack, his infant son, spontaneously goes invisible and turns into a ball of fire.

"Finding Nemo"

Andrew Stanton is another Pixar genius who brought us two box office hits: Finding Nemo and Finding Dory with actors Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres.

The movie follows an overprotective father, Marlin, a clownfish whose son, Nemo, is captured from the Great Barrier Reef. He befriends another fish, Dory, a regal blue tang fish with short-term memory loss. Together they search for his son meeting all sorts of ocean life when they arrive at Sydney Harbor. They save Nemo from a dentist's office aquarium. The journey teaches Marlin to let his son take care of himself and live a little by taking risks. Just like many of Pixar's movies, Finding Nemo won an Oscar for the best-animated feature film.

I remember Stanton talking about capturing the look and feel of the ocean water as a CGI image. Not yet mastered until this movie came out.

A sequel followed called Finding Dory with an all-star cast of voices. Ellen DeGeneres returned to voice Dory, who is searching for her mother and father and contends with her short-term memory loss.


Coming from the screenplay by Dan Fogelman and co-written and directed by John Lasseter, Cars is Pixar's final independent movie before Disney purchased the studio in the Spring of 2006.

Taking the audiences by surprise with a world of talking cars and anthropomorphic vehicles, the movie voice stars included Owen Wilson and Paul Newman. Lighting McQueen learns humility while falling in love with someone other than himself. Two more Car movies followed with spin-offs about talking airplanes.

The soundtrack for the first movie is the favorite Pixar soundtrack.

The 22 songs feature musical artists and Randy Newman. "Route 66" is the catchy tune you hear throughout the movie.

Are Pixar Movies Disney?

With all these successful movies by Pixar, we mustn't forget the connection to Disney. Disney distributed their movies before buying the studio in 2006. Press releases announcing the next Pixar movie are not uncommon, and film enthusiasts speculate each announcement's storyline. The movies are innocuous and family-friendly. Their success will continue as long as they don't change their formula for storytelling.

© 2019 Kenna McHugh


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