Podcast Reaction: The Pixar Edition


On the podcast this week, the guys and Jenny discussed digital stuff, mostly digital animation.

And let me say, for the record, that though I am the only Gabbing Geek regular who had absolutely nothing to do with Ryan’s Fallen…it was a good read.  Check it out.

But now, let’s talk about Pixar and the most messed-up List of Truth yet…

OK, disclaimer:  I have not seen Cars 2 at all or Bug’s Life in full.  Well, I likewise haven’t seen Inside Out yet, so I can only guess how much Ryan hated it.  I’m not actually sure how I would rank the movies yet, but even subpar Pixar is often better than a lot of other things out there, so a low rating doesn’t have to mean a bad movie if I were doing it.

Now that that is out of the way…in what universe is Wall*E ranked below Cars?  Or Monsters University for that matter?  Wall*E is beautiful.  Wall*E may not have a lot of dialogue, but seeing a small robot explore the world and then feel the wonders of love and the beauty of space, while teaching lazy humans to, you know, STAND UP ONCE IN A WHILE…really, the animation for Wall*E eclipses just about everything else Pixar has done.

Now, the way I heard the podcast, it sounded like the Gabbers were ranking things for…unusual reasons.

Watson alone seemed to be going for just the quality of the movie.  I may not have agreed with his assessment of The Incredibles on all but the most basic of levels (yeah, it does seem a little Fantastic Four crossed with Watchmen), but that didn’t take away from the pure enjoyment I had with the film.

Ryan seemed to be going off how much the movies entertained his kids…no wonder Cars ended up so much higher.  I’m not a parent, so I am sure my priorities are different, but why not rank them based on how much he himself enjoyed them?  I would think he had a more mature taste than his boys…actually, considering what little I know about his boys, the reverse might be true there.

And then there was Jenny quacking away in a way that seemed a little screwy to me.  Not only did she rate a (perfectly fine) movie higher than I would have due to self-admitted nostalgia (we meet again, my old foe!), but she also said movies that made her sad were somehow lesser in her eyes.

Dude, if a bunch of cartoon characters can make you cry, that’s a hell of an accomplishment.  There are live action movies that can’t pull that off.

I mean, the fact that the first ten minutes of Up are emotionally devastating says a lot for how much you come to care for Carl and Ellie says a lot for the skill those few minutes were put together, especially as Ellie has no dialogue as an adult!  Everything we know about adult Ellie comes from facial expressions and body language.  That takes tremendous skill for both the animators and the writers to make that opening work.  If it doesn’t, the whole movie fails.

Plus, Up might feature the most accurate talking dog behavior I have ever seen.  If dogs could talk, I imagine they’d still act a lot like Dug.

For that matter, most of the better Pixar movies do tend to have a scene deigned to make you cry or at least tug mightily on the heartstrings. The final moments of Monsters Inc does it with a single line and a smile.  Finding Nemo does it in the opening minutes.  Toy Story 2 hits you with a song and Jessie’s story halfway through.  Even the lesser ones try to pull this off, such as in Brave when Merida breaks down crying over the idea her mom might be stuck as a bear.  Why do these scenes work?  Because there is an emotional investment in them that makes the audience care about the characters.  Not every cartoon can pull that off.  Heck, most can’t.  Not even every Pixar movie has pulled it off, but their success-to-failure ratio works more in their favor than most.

Besides, how is it that Toy Story 2 is somehow a better movie than Toy Story 3, Jenny, if the sad scene of the second movie can be ignored due to knowing it will turn out OK for Jessie, but the same is not true for the third movie because unless she stopped watching before the end, those characters don’t die.  If anything, the third movie completes a trilogy showing the life cycle of a toy, while also showing a boy (Andy) growing up in a manner that is at least as effective as any 12 year experiments performed by Richard Linklater.

Now, Ryan mentioned the fan theory on Andy’s mom being Jessie’s original owner.  Now, that’s a good theory, but how familiar are my readers with the other Pixar theory, that the Toy Story movies, Cars movies, and Wall*E are all set in the same universe?  First the toys come to life…then humanity leaves, leaving the cars in charge…and then in the future, they come back to the only surviving machine, Wall*E.

That one may be a bit more sinister.

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