Monday, April 29, 2013

The Pixar Precap

I'm going to be honest with you, dearest homies. I got a little carried away with this post. I recommend grabbing some popcorn. Which is perfect, because this post is all about movies!

So yesterday I went to California Adventure, the theme park that accompanies Disneyland at the Disneyland Resort. It was my second time there, and we had a great time. California Adventure is very Pixar-inspired and includes "Cars Land" and "A Bug's Land." Thus during yesterday's visit I was overwhelmed with an urge to watch all of the Pixar movies in order.

Before I start, I thought I would offer my current rankings of the 13 Disney/Pixar films, and then I will rate them all again at the end of my adventure.

I don't know why I torture myself with these ratings blog posts. You'd think I would learn after trying to rate all of the Parenthood characters. But alas, here we go, from least favorite to most favorite:

First up in the "Can't comment/insufficient research" category, these films do not get an official rating this time around:

Brave and Cars 2. Haven't seen 'em.

Moving right along to the official countdown...

11. Wall-E

Ugh. Where to start?

Despite the fact that

a) the giggling stopped for me about a third of the way through this film,
b) the scenery was dreary, and
c) the robot being all alone and watching a schmaltzy romance tape during an apocalypsy time was depressing beyond belief (and this is kid friendly in what way??),

my major and overall complaint with this film is that Pixar movies are not a place for social commentary, and this film decided to put -- gross and glaring -- social commentary at its center.

THAT IS WHAT CNN IS FOR.

Do your kids watch CNN? I didn't think so. Would you be somewhat horrified if you discovered your children were watching Hardball, or The O'Reilly Factor, or Politically Incorrect? Duh.

So, Pixar, tell me, why would use a cute little robot like Wall-E to introduce children to topics that are way too intense for them? All the garbage and grey and brown colors in this film invoke panic in me, and I am pushing 28. Then again, I could be faint of heart compared to most, because I could never handle The Lorax as a kid.

I think that a Pixar film is not the time or place to present a message about obesity and wastefulness, etc., at least not in the way it was done. Kids and parents alike come to Pixar films for a break from the rougher things in life, not to have them smashed in their face.

Also let's keep in mind that the "rougher things in life" for kiddos are scraped knees and the occasional utterance of "No candy before dinner." If you're going to teach them a lesson, take baby steps. Tell them why it is not good to waste things or eat too much candy, rather than show them how the entire world is going to screw itself over. They will learn that in adulthood. We all did, didn't we? And we did so without the help of Wall-E.

I, as the parent that I am not, would rather spend time explaining to my (pre-prenatal?) children why Cookie Monster is eating carrot sticks, or take them to the park, or just feed them beets and tomatoes like my parents did so that when they hit 27 they'll still like those things and thus hopefully won't end up in a spaceship looking and acting like blobs.

10. Cars

I saw the beginning of this movie while babysitting. It did not transfix me.

But even though I've only seen part of it, I am quite confident that had I seen the whole thing I would still rank it higher than Wall-E.

I see a lot of you are now unsubscribing from this blog and defriending me on Facebook as you read this, so let's move on before I lose the rest of you:

9. A Bug's Life

I thought this movie would be funny. It wasn't really.

That's mostly my beef with it.

I like the bright colors. I am hoping I will warm to it a little more this next time around.

8. Toy Story 3

Yeah, I went there: I didn't even put this wildly popular film in my top 5. Losing friends right and left today, Bailey.

Basically, I have theories on why this film got so much hype, and I think it has less to do with the film's storyline and overall "That movie was awesome!!!"-ness, and more to do with, if we're being honest with ourselves, two major things:

a) The first two Toy Story films were released four years apart. Then it was another 11 before the third one came out.  This was the first Toy Story movie to be released in more than 10 years since the previous one.
b) Toy Story 3 hit theaters in the 3D era. This is not for everyone, but a lot of people are pretty jazzed about 3D, so the marketing team had some extra pull with viewers in that respect, I think.

The film was well done, to be sure. Clever. I laughed. I liked it when Barbie told Ken he had a "nice ascot."

But I think that when people heard there would be a Toy Story 3, they weren't so much expecting it as they were probably just surprised and thus excited because, certainly, the first two Toy Stories were extremely creative and unique and new to the world of entertainment and animation.


Say that tomorrow it was announced that "Wayne's World 3" was coming to theaters. We would probably freak out a little bit with excitement, but do we need a Wayne's World 3? Not really. And I say that as a LOVER of Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2.


Another fine example: The third Mighty Ducks film. Why? The series peaked with D2. Obviously.


So my point is, briefly, don't mess with a good thing.

I think me writing all of this is successfully barring me from ever getting hired by Disney or Pixar. And as I'm losing more and more friends, let's move the mood "up" (har, har) to some films I'm a little more positive about:

7. Up

I thought this movie was going to be uber sad, and I actually had to be convinced by a friend that it was going to be OK if we watched it.

I liked this film. I recall the snipe stuff was funny. And that "Good afternoon!" bit is irresistible.

6/5. Ratatouille / The Incredibles

The reasons for these being tied are complicated, so I will try to keep my explanation brief. Basically the contest here comes down to a battle of wit and visual aesthetics.

Ratatouille I expected to be funny. It wasn't too funny. As with A Bug's Life, I came wanting a laugh and didn't receive many. I find this is similar to experiencing an almost-but-not-expressed sneeze, but worse.

However, once I realized and resigned myself to the fact that this wasn't a guffaw film, I zoned out and just enjoyed the pretty colors, all the oranges and blues. Then, once I saw parts of the movie again, while babysitting and whatnot, I discovered I liked it better than the first time, probably in part because I had accepted the lack of humor.

The Incredibles, on the contrary, was very funny. I remember laughing a lot when I saw it in the theater with my brother and my friend Sarah. Sarah and I were in college at the time, and my brother was at a stressful point in his life. That said, I recall leaving the theater with that feeling of great catharsis and endorphins one needs as a student or when dealing with, well, his or her twenties.

I've only seen The Incredibles all the way through, however, the one time, so I can't really speak definitively on how much I love it, and whether it would fall ahead of or behind Ratatouille. You pickin' up what I'm puttin' down?

4. Toy Story 2

I think that when I conclude re-viewing the Pixar lineup, The Incredibles and/or Ratatouille will likely surpass Toy Story 2 in the rankings, but for now TS2 is going to come in at No. 4.

I liked TS2 in the theater. I think I was a trifle skeptical of whether it would live up to its predecessor, and was pleased to find that it did. I don't know of any recent urge, however, to watch this film.

I think this movie is funny. The introduction of the Woody's Roundup characters was a nice addition to the family of talking plastic friends.

Oh, and the scene with the (precious beyond precious) old man fixing the broken Woody toy is definitely notable as one of the most mesmerizing scenes in all of the Pixar movies. And I think we all at least metaphorically clutched our chests or gasped when he painted over "ANDY" on Woody's boot. Powerful.

Seriously, just thinking about it I am getting borderline goosebumpy and teary. I am overtired, but still.

3. Toy Story

This is the original. It blew us away. We loved it.

I got excited when seeing the commercials, and even so it exceeded expectations. Because none of us knew what was about to hit us when we sat down to that film. None of us. It was just too new and fantastic. Thus, Toy Story deserves a high spot on this ranking.

2/1. Finding NemoMonsters Inc.

This is a battle of wits. I can't decide.

Nemo is the only Pixar film that I saw twice in the theater.

But both Nemo and Monsters had me cracking up and enjoying myself start to finish.

And when it comes to entertainment, if you want to win me over, you should probably:

a) get me giggling like a maniac, and
b) throw in a pretty rainbow of colors,

of which Nemo and Monsters offer both. Treat me like the child that I am, and you will earn a high spot on my Pixar ranking list.

4 comments:

  1. We own all of your top 8 and Cars. "Up" is one of my new favs, but it might have a hard time passing the older classics in my rankings. ("Brave" stunk. I thought/hoped it would be better.)

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    1. whoa, jen, i love that lightning speed reply! i've heard brave wasn't super great. xoxo

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  2. Your as good as Siskel and Ebert ever were. Try for your own TV show.

    Rick wants to know why you don't have a bigger coffee cup? ;)

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    1. Aw, thanks, Mo!

      Haha to Rick's comment. Is that a comment on how hyper I am?

      Miss you guys!!

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