Grace Under Pixar

Originally this was gonna go as a YouTube comment under a video Grace Randolph made about ranking the eighteen Pixar films from worst to best. My response to her response got too long to post to YouTube. You can post video there that’s more than ten minutes long, but you can’t post this much text? That makes no sense to me. Anyway. I’ll link Grace’s video below so you can see what I’m referencing, and then my response to her response will follow after that.

This list is roughly in response to Grace’s list. I’m not slotting all eighteen films in my order of preference. I’d be here all night, but just want to comment on how I feel (or don’t as the case may be) about these films in reaction to Grace’s reactions. Some of these films are very important to me and some of them never made it on my radar really. Your Mileage Will no doubt Vary. If you find this sort of thing boring please skip. If you wanna share your own list below feel free. I was gonna just do one sentence for each but as you can see I got carried away. Off we go.

Cars 1-3: Being dead honest here. Never saw em. I have no opinion, other than I hate the premise. You may like them. I’m missing out. I don’t care.

A Bug’s Life: I enjoyed it. Was better than Antz that’s for sure. Still remember all the supporting characters. Mildly surprised to hear Grace pan it, but we don’t see eye to eye on everything which is very OK! It’s silly fun. Not incredibly novel and original perhaps but I enjoyed what they did with it. Would be higher on my list than Grace’s, but would barely miss entering the top five.

Toy Story 3: I never saw it. Have no opinion. After Toy Story 2 I was done with the franchise. More on that below.

Brave: Haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve heard good things. It’s low on the must see list. Someday.

Monsters University: Haven’t seen it yet, but like Brave, it’s on the “someday I might watch it” list. Loved the first one.. well. I’ll talk about the first one when Grace gets there.

Ratatouille: Loved it, tho meandering wonky plot at points. Has Garofalo in it, whom I adore. Funny. Creative. Deliciously absurd. Not a favorite, and I haven’t bothered to rewatch it more than a couple times, but I have no complaints. Very sweet movie.

Finding Dory: I had waited for this one since walking out of Nemo and was not disappointed. I disagree with Grace: I was compelled! Will see it again. I enjoy every beat of the unpredictable plot as well as both new and old characters. The final act goes off the rails as Hank drives the truck but by then I’m so wrapped up in the fun of it I don’t mind. This would be high on my list. Maybe in the top five. However, I have yet to watch it more than once, and a film still holding up on repeat viewings is very key for me. I knew Dory’s past was a treasure trove of possibilities and I was right. Such a thrill in the theater to see this dream come true. Perfect even in its imperfections. Bravo Pixar. Now i want to see Finding Hank.

Toy Story 2: Ugh. The 1st one was fun but this seemed pointless and lethargic. Grace feels Finding Dory is not compelling, but I was not compelled by this at all. I began to wonder why I cared about these characters the first time. Also I feel the conceit of the first film where toys are alive when humans aren’t around was kinda stretched and broken in the 2nd film, and when a franchise breaks its own rules I lose interest in exploring that world any further. I haven’t seen the third Toy Story film because I hated this one so much. Not regretting it.

Up: While the opening may have angered Grace as a mother, having no children myself I found this to be one of Pixar’s most artistic high points. My eyes moistened too as the message sunk in; this old cantankerous man is more than just a stereotypical plot trope there is a reason why he is the way he is. My disappointment was in the rest of the film. After starting with such a heart breaking powerful opening, everything else felt like falling action. I was not remotely interested in the boy scout character, the talking dogs rapidly grew cumbersome and annoying as the plot unraveled, and I don’t even remember how it ended or what the point was. Powerful start but unmemorable ending. Would probably fall lower on my list than Grace’s, tho I loved Ed Asner’s performance throughout. He brought such depth and range to a character that in other hands would have been just one sour note.

The Good Dinosaur: Haven’t seen it. Really should see it. I’m sure I’m missing out. Looks like it’ll be fun.

WALL-E: Love love LOVE this film! From the open desolate feel of a little robot following its programming long after there seems to be a point to it, to the crazy roller coaster ride of the end that culminates in silicon life saving carbon life with a sprig in a boot. So charming from beginning to end. It sounds as beautiful as it looks. It generates its own weird internal logic of a possible future and then holds true to its own conceits in a way that draws me into its hyper real vision of mankind’s hopeful destiny. it’s both depressing and cathartic at the same time, and the manic depressive in me can’t resist that. Would probably be higher on my list, and Grace has it pretty high already. If I allowed myself, Fred Willard would get a whole paragraph all to himself. Loved his work in this, but I’ve already gushed too much. Moving on.

Inside Out: I disagree with Grace in that I felt the logic and decisions were being made through the emotions. Logic wasn’t depicted as a character for the same reason in the Cars franchise you never see people (gross when you think about it). The decisions and ideas and facts were what “fueled” the characters in this film, and when we’d see memories colored by each emotion, that was facts and data of external reality being shelved by the emotions inside the mind. Tainted with emotion. Subjective perception shrouding objective reality. I found Inside Out surprisingly compelling and deep for a family show, and an example why I’m drawn to Pixar films even if I don’t have kids of my own. I’m still a kid at heart, but I’m also a sucker for pretentious explorations of the human psyche that grant me the illusion I’m smarter than I am. Lewis Black’s appearance was spot on as well. Part of me would like to have heard more of him, but like strong spices it’s probably best I trust the cook’s judgment. Too much heat would have ruined the meal. On this list it’s about where I’d probably put it. Perhaps a little lower.

Finding Nemo: From start to finish, a compelling narrative with memorable characters you want to learn about more and hang out with. It’s a strong film with feel good vibes throughout and a seemingly endless supply of laughter and smiles. I really can’t say enough about this film. From voice over work to the music to the animation to just everything about it. I can’t think of a single bad thing to say about this film. It has held up to repeat viewings which is a real big plus for me. Over at FlickChart dot com, this film is number 15 of my fave films of all time. There’s only one Pixar film that is higher on that list, but I’ll get to that in a second.

Toy Story: Very okay. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s an enjoyable narrative with some compelling ideas and themes. The voice over work is mostly great but at times could have been better. This first film creates a conceit of toys that are alive when humans aren’t looking at them and for the most part doesn’t break the rules it sets down for itself. I enjoyed it. I have never understood why this got sequels when some other Pixar films I enjoyed had to wait way too long for sequel treatment or will never get sequels. I would not put this one as high on my list as Grace has on hers, but it would be higher than its sequels. I feel part two broke it’s own rules in subtle ways which I did not appreciate and ruined my enjoyment of the second film. I refuse to give the third one a chance, because 2 was so unenjoyable.

Monsters Inc: Oh this was so fun. I love the voice talent. I enjoy the premise. The laughs are spot on and comic timing is incredible. John Goodman’s work with Boo is both heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. Such a difficult combination to master. Crystal and Goodman work so well together I’m surprised we didn’t see more from them on the live action side of things. Maybe the comic timing between them is artificially made through editing? Maybe they aren’t magical like this without a crew behind them? I may never know. Rewatchability is not as good as some other Pixar films. The movie makes up rules and conceits early in the film that get stretched a bit as we explore the absurdities of this reality. The physics of the doors seem to work as necessary for purposes of storytelling, which is a bit of a sin in my book, but if I were writing it I would not have been able to resist stretching the premise either cuz it’s just too fun. The ending is a little wonky and empty but still hopeful. Might be in my top five. Definitely in my top ten.

The Incredibles: I’m not offended that Grace has this one at number three, as she suspected, but it’s number one on my list of Pixar films. The only film above Finding Nemo at my FlickChart list of all time movie watching. The only films higher on my FlickChart than Incredibles are Rob Reiner’s Princess Bride and Joss Whedon’s Serenity, with Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest and Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane jockeying for positions. I truly feel Brad Bird belongs in such amazing company. The Incredibles starts off strong and finishes strong, and it flows from one scene to the next like a riverboat ride that occasionally turns into some roaring rapids. Strong message and succeeds essentially at getting The Fantastic Four right for the screen. This is how Fantastic Four should feel in the cinema, like a family that just happens to have powers, but Hollywood will never get that right. Again I can’t find anything bad to say about The Incredibles. From Dashiel Parr’s solo adventure where he learns he can run on water to the subtle differences between how Mr. and Mrs. Incredible each choose to break into the same lair. I even used to do a mean imitation of Edna Mode, I loved this show so much. Not easy to master her, but when I learned Brad Bird himself did her voice I gave it a try and with some work I wasn’t half bad. It’s sitting on my shelf now beckoning me to watch it again.

Rewatchability is very big with me. It’s why North By Northwest is in my Top Ten of all time but Psycho is not. Okay I’m done. Sorry so long. Thanks if you made it this far.

 

PS: Here’s a feeble attempt to use the above to try my own best to worst list. I’m sure next time I look at this list I’ll wanna change it. My opinions tend to change from one day to the next but as of this writing this is where these films stand with me. Totally subjective.

  1. The Incredibles
  2. Finding Nemo
  3. WALL-E
  4. Finding Dory
  5. Inside Out
  6. A Bug’s Life
  7. Monsters Inc.
  8. Ratatouille
  9. Up
  10. Toy Story
  11. Toy Story 2

I can’t list the others having never seen them. I can’t formally have an opinion on a film I haven’t seen. I haven’t seen Brave, The Good Dinosaur, or Monsters University, but I hope to someday. They look like I might enjoy them. Maybe someday I will see them, and then I can update this list.

I haven’t seen Toy Story 3 or any of the Cars films and have no desire to do so. Even if they are good films, I have no desire to spend time and resources finding out. Toy Story 2 was that bad in my opinion, and I find the premise of sentient cars and trucks to be unpleasant and rather insulting to my intelligence. Your Mileage May Vary. I’m sure I’m missing out on whatever other people see in these films. I’m okay with that.