pop-break’s resident pixar-ologist logan j. fowler looks at what we feels are the animation studio’s best films…
For the most part, Pixar Animation Studios have realized some of the most beautiful cinematic features to grace this generation. Their tales offer up more than memorable characters, strong morals, and you will most likely find yourself reaching for tissues during a lot of their movies. To narrow my favorites down to five is going to be very difficult, but here goes nothing:
Honorable Mention: Wall-E
Wall-E is Pixar’s most political movie, mostly due to the robot saga that leads into Earth being destroyed from mass pollution and everyone over eating and relying on transportation to get them around. It’s up to Wall-E and his new interest Eve to return Earth to its former glory. While the second half of the movie does do a lot of poking at the general state of human nature today, really, Wall-E is a love story about two robots working together to save our planet. It’s beautiful, and to add to that notion, the first half-hour (give or take) of the movie has absolutely no dialogue. And yet we stare on in awe. Amazing.
5. Monster’s Inc.
The old tale of monsters hiding in closets gets a new spin here as two buddies that work at Monster’s Incorporated have to deal with a child on premises, which is freaking all the other monsters out. Sully (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) have their hands full when little toddler “Boo” escapes from her bedroom out into their world, sending the two on a search for door and away from the villainous chameleon style monster Randall (Steve Buscemi). The movie ends with a high above door rotating rail chase and one of the most heartfelt endings ever. The fact that Pixar decided to make a prequel to this movie and not a follow up was a nice movie; Sully’s face at the conclusion of the film was flat out perfect.
4. Finding Nemo
Under the sea, under the sea…Finding Nemo is a tale about a clown fish father, Marlin (Albert Brooks) who is on a desperate search for his only son Nemo, and along the way he tackles jellyfish, whales, and even a flock of seagulls (“Mine! Mine!”). His only partner in this journey is forgetful fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) who provides a bit of mischief to the proceedings but also the greatest lesson of the movie (“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”). This aquatic adventure is a favorite not just because it’s gorgeous to look at even to this day, but it also strikes a comedic personal chord for me because I do have sort of an overbearing mother who bears a characteristic resemblance or two to Marlin’s fear of…well, pretty much everything.
3. Toy Story 3
While I would have been perfectly OK with Pixar stopping at Toy Story 2, well, I am glad to say that that the third entry in this toy adventure is undoubtedly my favorite. The ensemble cast of heroes and villains includes some of my favorites including scene stealer Ken (Michael Keaton, having a ball), a noir spouting Fisher-Price phone, Big Baby, and the ultimate a-hole Lots o’ Huggin Bear (Ned Beatty). The gang from Toy Story and Toy Story 2 have to escape being abandoned so they head to Sunnyside Daycare in order to get an extension on playtime, but not all is right in play land. The funniest Toy Story entry, no doubt, but definitely also the darkest, and it has an ending that will make you bawl like a baby. To this day, I can’t watch the movie without escaping the misty eyed syndrome; it literally gets me every time.
Speaking of movies that get me every time, Up is another gem in the Pixar canon that makes my tear ducts work overtime. The movie starts off with a beautiful union between Carl and Ellie, and before you know it, they are married, they find out she’s baron, and they grow old together. The final scene of a dialogue free montage tells the audience that Carl is now without his wife, and it is to the credit of Pixar that you feel something for these characters you literally JUST MET five minutes ago to the point of you losing yourself emotionally to their fates. Up is a punch to the gut in the beginning, but keeps the adventure going as Carl travels to the dream vacation locale that he and Ellie both wanted to visit. Along for the ride is Russell, the comedic relief of the film, and Dug, one of Pixar’s best side characters. I would call Up a masterpiece, but I believe that’s a term not good enough for it.
1. The Incredibles
Pixar has put out cinematic feature after cinematic feature that has melted my face, but my lone #1 love goes to The Incredibles after all these years. It’s not even the fact that it features superheroes, which everyone knows I love, but it contains a dynamic score, impressive animation, and underlying it all, the importance of family. Brad Bird, who directed the amazing Iron Giant was put to work on this animated feature, and not a day goes by where I don’t sing my praises about it. Pixar has put out so much greatness. But I believe The Incredibles embodies everything Pixar has done in one film. It has so much to offer, and it doesn’t hurt that there are superheroes in it. My favorite Pixar classic. It’s…incredible.