Pixar's 25th anniversary: How the studio changed the animation game

Pixar-movies

Exactly 25 years ago, a little desk lamp pounced on a rubber ball and accidentally deflated it. The lamp sadly hopped away, only to return seconds later with an even larger, more impressive ball. In a way, Luxo Jr., which premiered at a Dallas computer-graphics conference called SIGGRAPH on Aug. 17, 1986, is the perfect metaphor for the then-fledgling studio that created it: Pixar. The short film announced the arrival of a new player in the animation scene, but Pixar had much larger toys waiting in store.

On the 25th anniversary of Pixar’s first project, it seems appropriate to consider exactly how the studio has altered the world of animation. A lot of Pixar’s success — its 12 feature films have received 40 Oscar nominations and earned more than $7 billion in worldwide grosses — can be traced to its emphasis on story and characters above all else. An argument could also be made that the studio’s distance from Hollywood — its campus is located in the small San Francisco Bay Area city of Emeryville — helped foster its independent spirit and out-of-the-box thinking. But the company has enriched the medium of animation in a number of other ways, too. Here are five examples of how Pixar has improved the animated feature film:

1. Slowing things down

I caught parts of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin on TV last weekend. Both are cherished movies of my childhood, but what particularly struck me while watching them now was how rapidly paced they were. Aladdin, in particular, was akin to being trapped in a pinball machine. The picture’s a lot of fun, but it’s always in a rush to get to the next action set piece, the next musical showstopper, and the next Robin Williams impersonation. The film considers its audience an extremely impatient bunch, so it never stops trying to razzle-dazzle us.

Pixar, on the other hand, knows the value of temporarily slowing down a movie’s narrative. The studio had faith that its audience, children included, wouldn’t lose interest during Up‘s wordless montage depicting the marriage of Carl and Ellie Fredricksen, or during the eerie opening scenes of WALL-E.

Furthermore, Pixar has no problem making movies that are longer than most animated films. During the “Disney Renaissance” (from 1989′s The Little Mermaid to 1999′s Tarzan), Disney’s longest animated movie was Hercules at 93 minutes. But Pixar approached nearly two-hour runtimes with Cars (117 minutes), The Incredibles (115 minutes), and Ratatouille (111 minutes). By no means is a longer movie necessarily better than a shorter one — Cars could have been trimmed some — but Pixar’s willingness to even make animated features of such lengths is refreshing. If they feel their story is deserving, they’re going to take their sweet time.

2. No musical numbers

I hesitantly list this reason, as I’m as big a fan as any of Disney songs. But like a shorter runtime, musical numbers in animated movies often feel like a concession to kids, who apparently require something to tap their toes to every 10 minutes. By not having its characters suddenly break out in song, Pixar could pursue subtler ways to flesh out its characters. Could you imagine The Incredibles or Up working quite as well if Elastigirl or Carl Fredricksen started belting a tune about how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mom or a heartbroken old man? (“My neighbors think me a cranky barbarian / But I’m really just a sad septuagenarian!”)

Yes, I know Pixar has featured the occasional song, such as Toy Story‘s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” or Toy Story 2‘s “When She Loved Me.” But these numbers served more as narration for a montage sequence than as an opportunity for characters to put on a show for us.

3. Refusing to flaunt its celebrity voices

Pixar’s not against using the voices of big-name celebrities, such as Tom Hanks, Owen Wilson, Kevin Spacey, and Ellen DeGeneres. But unlike rival studios, Pixar doesn’t advertise its stars (or give them above-the-title billing, a la Shrek). “I don’t want people to go, ‘Oh, isn’t that so-and-so’s voice?’” Pixar head John Lasseter told EW. “We do have great actors, but we want people to be swept away with the story and the characters.” One gets the sense that Pixar casts whomever the studio thinks is most appropriate for a role, regardless of that actor’s drawing power at the box office. How else can you explain the casting of Patton Oswalt as Remy in Ratatouille, or Ed Asner as Carl in Up?

4. Having the courage to tackle tricky subjects

An Earth devoid of humans in WALL-E? Suburban marital strife in The Incredibles? A 78-year-old adventure hero in Up? Pixar relishes the opportunity to tackle difficult stories — material that’d send most other studios running. Animation was once relegated to fairy tales and talking animals, but Pixar has opened the medium up to previously unexplored territory. Here’s hoping they don’t suddenly get cold feet.

5. Raising the bar for every other animation studio

Without Pixar setting such a high standard, I wonder if we would have had How to Train Your Dragon, Rango, Kung Fu Panda, and Happy Feet. Those pictures can’t touch Pixar at its strongest, but they’re still delightful (and at times beautiful) pieces of cinema. I can’t prove whether having a high-achieving student in the classroom lifts the performance of all the other students — chime in if you’re a teacher — but it couldn’t possibly hurt.

Before Pixar, an animated film had never received an Oscar nomination for its writing. Now it has happened eight times, thanks to seven Pixar movies and DreamWorks’ Shrek. Whereas before a studio might have said, “That idea is too outré or sophisticated for an animated feature,” now that studio can look to Pixar and say, “If they can pull it off, why can’t we?”

Where Pixar goes from here…

The studio may be at a defining juncture. By the time the Monsters Inc. prequel Monsters University opens in June 2013, three of Pixar’s last four projects will have been based on preexisting films. One of those films, this summer’s Cars 2, became the studio’s first picture to receive mediocre reviews.

Pixar obviously knows how to make sequels work (see Toy Story 2 and, especially, Toy Story 3). But I worry that they may never repeat that envelope-pushing streak of Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up. I worry when I see someone like Andy Hendrickson, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ chief technical officer, reportedly say that visual spectacle — not story — should be the focus of Pixar’s parent company.

But then I see the stunning trailer for Brave, Pixar’s summer 2012 release, and I feel silly for worrying so much. Here’s a movie starring a female protagonist (the studio’s first) and set, of all places, in the Highlands of Scotland. Here’s a movie in which the lead character was once going to be voiced by Reese Witherspoon, and is now being played by the much less commercial (and much more Scottish) Kelly Macdonald. And now I’m a little desk lamp all over again, eagerly awaiting Pixar’s shiny new present.

Read more:
Disney announces release dates for two Marvel projects and a Pixar film
‘Brave’ poster: Pixar’s first fairy tale goes ‘darker, more intense’
John Lasseter on Pixar’s early days

Comments (139 total) Add your comment
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  • BrandonK

    Pixar may have helped to raise other studios’ games, but it also has contributed to the glut of mediocre-to-bad computer animated films out there. “Happily N’ever After”, anyone?

    • abadstroller

      Not Pixar’s fault. When someone is successful with something, there is always somebody else quickly on their heels to imitate…and to do it poorly. Fortunately, the market will come to bear and push the posers out of the way. True genius rises above the wannabees.

      • thin

        Not only is that not Pixar’s fault, it’s not even right. You don’t “contribute to” average-to-terrible movies by making good ones. There would have been plenty of poorly-made computer animated movies whether or not Pixar had entered the game.

    • petek

      thanks for reminding me of that movie….. wtf dude

    • Cygnus

      “4. Having the courage to tackle tricky subjects
      An Earth devoid of humans in WALL-E? Suburban marital strife in The Incredibles? A 78-year-old adventure hero in Up? Pixar relishes the opportunity to tackle difficult stories — material that’d send most other studios running. Animation was once relegated to fairy tales and talking animals, but Pixar has opened the medium up to previously unexplored territory. Here’s hoping they don’t suddenly get cold feet.”

      You mean like talking cars and toys? That’s 5 of their movies right there. Plus some talking rats, bugs, monsters, etc. You got this one wrong.

      • KMG

        No, this is the one he got MOST right. The talking toys have heartbreaking worries over being left behind by their loved ones (Jessies’ story in TS2) or becoming obsolete or irrelevant to them (All three of the TS movies), and the talking cars deal with loneliness, being let down by friends, and aging (Cars 1). Some of the themes of Pixar’s movies are very “adult”, not just sunshine-and-flowers kiddie-oriented themes. And while their movies do end up with a happy ending, it is often bittersweet: Andy gives his toys away, Carl still misses his wife, Jessie still hurts after having been kicked to the curb (literally). No one else in the business dealt with those sort of themes – at least not very well – until Pixar did it.

      • John R.

        Ditto. Toy Story 2 is about the inevitability of death and the need to appreciate life while you are here. Up is about the need to let go and not (literally) drag your past around with you. While they both have silly set pieces for kids, there are some surprisingly adult themes in there – also Finding Nemo, Wall-E, the Incredibles. Sure, Cars, Monsters Inc. & A Bugs Life are more kids movies – but the point he is making is that the showed you can tackle big ideas in an animated movie and make it accessible to everyone. That is something most major studio live action movies can’t even do.

      • Chris Richards

        I think the “talking animals” comment is in regards to the rather silly, happy-go-lucky vibe that you see in a lot of animated movies, like Home on the Range, Oliver & Company, and that ilk. While those can be good movies, they are not as deep and profound as the movies that Pixar has often made.

      • cal

        Cygnus: Talking toys, cars, monsters and rats are not the ‘subjects’ of those movies – they are the characters in them. The subjects are much deeper, as the people above pointed out. (You might as well say that the subjects of ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Up’ were talking people.)

      • hobbes242

        @cal: Totally agree. I heard an interview with Neil Gaiman where he dismissed Disney for not having real issues for the characters to deal with in their animated films (his amusing example of a major issue was someone worrying they weren’t invited to a birthday party, but it turns out they were!), so it’s not only refreshing that Pixar has stories that deal with death, loss, loneliness, etc., but it’s amazing they’ve managed it under Disney’s umbrella.

      • Jill

        I think that’s why Cars 2 got such bad reviews; the lone adult theme–accepting your friends for who they are–got buried in the whiz-bang action sequences and overly complicated plot. It was go-go-go-go-go, all the time, and the even the “you’re my best friend, Mater” sentiments were uttered on the fly.
        I can see and appreciate the animators’ glee in extending the universe they created in the original, to see how they’d apply their own rules and conventions to the rest of the world; but plot, character, and pacing were definitely the victims in this one.

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    • Blake

      Blaming pixar for other studios trying to copy their success with crappy movies is like blaming the beatles for all the terrible rockbands that have come after them. It makes no sense

      • Baked Waker

        I gotta blame somebody for Nickleback!

  • crispy

    Best Pixar movie thread…

    Wall-E – Though Nemo is loads of fun and imminently quotable, I find myself referring to Wall-E more frequently. Its depiction of a culture of fatties who communicate only through networked devices is so prescient.

    • Emilio

      I love to see Wall-E just after seeing The Dark Knight. It always warms me back.

    • Christine

      The Incredibles, for sure.

    • Apos

      I’m inclined to agree. I regard this and “The Incredibles” to be the two best Pixar flicks.

      • RCB

        Aside from Wall-E, my other favorites are Up (bec of my wife) and Nemo (bec of my son).

    • thin

      I’d have a really hard time picking out a favorite Pixar movie (though I can definitely say that Cars and Cars 2 are not on the list), but The Incredibles has the best re-watch value to me. I’ve watched it far more often than any of the others.

  • kate

    I wish people would quit singing the praises of Pixar. Yes, they make compelling movies, but really these movies deal with heavy subject matter, that makes it a see-once-only movie. Honestly, some of their movies are too depressing to re-watch. Unlike, Disney, where I could watch Aladdin over and over again.
    Animation has always been about connecting with the kids, when they start making heavy subject matter movies, they lose the kids in their quest to appeal to adults.

    • Mary Knapp

      Kate: so….. if it’s animated, it’s only supposed to be ‘happy happy’ kid-friendly fare? Seriously?

      Animation is a visual art form. It’s not just about ‘connecting with kids’, it’s about connecting with the audience. Yeah, ‘cartoons’ might be aimed to children, but animation covers a HUGE breadth of media and scope . . . from “Prince Achmed” to “Grave of the Fireflies” and then some.

      If you want ‘cartoons’, go watch Scooby Doo. If you want ‘animation’, then you’re gonna need to raise your content expectations up a notch or forty-five.

    • Steph

      This is utterly stupid. Animation has not always been only for kids, especially outside the US. Trying (and succeeding) at making it appealing to adults and kids is brilliant. Just like Pixar is…

      • Mary Knapp

        I couldn’t agree more, Steph. Even back in the day when they opened for the three-reel Saturday matinees, cartoons often had double-entendres built in.

      • Van Der Woodsen

        Correct, but i doubt Kate owns a passport.

      • Mary Knapp

        Not sure what Kate’s observation has to do with passports, as I’d seen many of the animation pieces I refer to before I’d had a chance to travel abroad . . . no need to cast unfounded aspersions. Just sayin’.

      • Woot

        Agreed. If you look at some of the animation done in Japan (the late great Satoshi Kon for example) not only is there animation for adults, its ONLY for adults. Perfect Blue is a captivating movie that you won’t be showing the kiddies.

      • Scottt

        “Agreed. If you look at some of the animation done in Japan (the late great Satoshi Kon for example) not only is there animation for adults, its ONLY for adults. Perfect Blue is a captivating movie that you won’t be showing the kiddies.”

        And they’re dull and 99% don’t make money. Japanese cartoons are a niche market. Period.

    • tom

      If an animated movie about robots and toys are too depressing for you, you havent seen any depressing movies…

      • just me

        To me Toy Story lays a guilt trip on kids for outgrowing their attachment to certain toys. Who needs that?

      • Kahta

        Agree with just me…I found the ending of Toy Story 3 incredibly sad. Yes the toys live on with a new owner who loves and plays with them, but they lose Andy and Andy loses his childhood. I liked the movie but I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.

      • RobNJ

        Sounds like someone is afraid to grow up.

    • Dave

      I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen The Incredibles probably a dozen times and I never tire of it. It’s easily one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve ever seen.

      • Apos

        Hear,hear! I never fail to tune in to a TV airing of it whilst channel-surfing.

    • Ellie

      In response to Kate: Clearly, you haven’t seen Don Bluth’s early films.

      • Ellie

        And Disney has made their fair share of depressing movies. Dumbo, Bambi and The Fox and the Hound, to name a few.

    • Matt

      since everyone else is jumping on this completely stupid statement, I will too. I have a two year old, and her favorite movies are Up, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille, as well as the Toy Story movies. I’ve tried to show her Aladdin, Little Mermaid, and Lion King, and she’s not interested, but for some reason, Up (arguably one of Pixars most “depressing” film) is the one she watches the most often and it completely enthralls her. You need to go back to Spongebob and Scooby-Do and keep your dumb opinions to yourself.

      • crispy

        Your 2-year-old is smarter than Kate.

      • Andy C

        She’s not interested in the Lion King or Little Mermaid!? Geez.. maybe you should get your kid checked out.

      • thin

        It’s really not that weird that a 2-year old isn’t interested in The Lion King.

    • Meli

      I seriously doubt Kate would be up for such Anime classics such as ‘Akira’, is it?

    • Ackerman

      I think there is no way that Pixar movies make the bank they do at the Box Office and DVD rentals without all ‘quadrants’ going back more than once. Like others here, I have repeatedly watched almost every Pixar movie (again, like many others, I have no interest in Cars 2) but sheer weight of numbers disproves this rather ill-thought out ‘can only been seen once’ blanket statement. Your situation ain’t everybody is what I would think.

    • buzz&woody

      really? i disagree. My 2 year old’s favorite movies are Ratatouille, Wall-E and Toy Story. The bonus is, I can watch them with him and enjoy them every time. I think I’ve seen Toy Story 3 about 25 times now. I cry every time and love it every time:-).

    • Al

      Hello? Do you have kids? My kids, age 13 & 15,have watched all the Toy Storys, Incredibles,Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Cars many many times. “Just keep swimming”…does that mean anything to a child or an adult? Yes! Just keep trying – persevere, do not give up! “You’ve got a friend in me” hmm…wonder what that could mean? You have true friends you can rely on. Pixar does give life lessons in an enjoyable manner.

    • vj

      You have obviously never watched any of the post-WWII cartoons from Warner Brothers. You think kids know that the gangster in their movies was imitating George Raft? You think kids knew that the recurring character in one of the cartoons that keeps saying “Hey, Buddy… got a spare quarter for an American who’s down on his luck” was a spoof of Humphry Bogart? Good cartoons [not, for example, most everything nowadays that seems to rely on caca-peepee jokes] have never been *only* about kids. They were always made for the whole range of people in the audience.

      You need to get out more…

    • hobbes242

      @Kate: You’re missing the point. Animation isn’t just for kids. If it was, we wouldn’t have movies like Heavy Metal, Persepolis, and The Illusionist. Brad Bird has said that when people come up to him and say “My children loved your last movie” he replies with “Yes, but what did *you* think of it?”
      One of the other great things about Pixar is that their movies manage to appeal to both children and adults, without having to pander. A lot of the other studios seem to follow a “Here’s something the kids will like, and now here’s something the adults will like” formula.

    • Jill

      No replay value? My four-year-old daughter would beg to differ. She’s watched Cars so many times that we all have it memorized, and even the soundtrack, with Randy Newman’s score, is our favorite for car trips.
      The pacing, tone, and music of the film work together to convey the “adult” themes to children without bogging them down in complicated exposition. While my daughter may not yet fully understand that Doc Hudson’s treatment of Lightning McQueen is rooted in his bitterness about the way the racing world treated him, she gets that Doc is sad and cranky because he doesn’t race any more. And Mater’s childlike innocence makes him a great proxy for young viewers–he relates to his world in the same way they would.
      Pixar’s films convey the adult themes through more than just words and action, allowing children to appreciate the basic outline, even when they don’t truly understand the complexities that are so appealing to their parents.

    • Jonathan

      Are you serious? Kids LOVE even the deepest Pixar movies like Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched those 3 films with my nieces and nephews, along with the other Pixar films. I swear I’ve seen WALL-E at least 20 times, because the kids love them so much.

    • Cindy

      I couldn’t disagree more! My boys ages 9 and 4 re-watch the Pixar movies over and over again, choosing them over the traditional animated Disney movies or the Dreamworks movies. I sit there with them to and watch the movies. Our family can’t get enough sometimes.

  • e4ia

    I have to admit that I do have some minor concerns. Cars 2 was the first Pixar film I didn’t see in the theater. And I really have no interest in seeing it when it’s released for home viewing. It really felt like a “cash-grab” for me and, judging from everything I’ve heard, the only remaining Pixar quality it had was stunning visuals. Hopefully, this was just a bump in the road and they will get back on track.

  • Robert

    I love and appreciate this article. Pixar is without a doubt the best animation studio out there.
    @Kate – I find the entire Pixar canon (sans Cars 2 saddly) wholly rewatchable. I’d take watching Up over and over again any day over most else

  • kate

    Yo! Van Der Woosen…what does passports have to do with it? thats just random.
    I’m not saying all Pixar movies are depressing or that animation is only for kids…but its been historically known for telling stories at a level that kids can understand and appreciate.
    I’m all for Pixar’s brilliance, but I just don’t think the kids are mature enough to get their subject matter. Besides, almost every movie of Pixar’s has a toy line (which is marketed to kids). So, if they don’t expect them to see the movies, then why have toys?

    • Dave

      The thing is, kids ARE seeing Pixar movies and kids ARE enjoying these movies. I don’t know where you’re getting this idea from that kids aren’t interested in Pixar movies. Every kid I know is in love with Toy Story. Maybe a few of the more mature themes in Pixar films go over their heads, but that doesn’t lessen their enjoyment of the movies. It’ll just be a bonus when they grow up and see it again that they’ll probably fall in love with the movies even more. So I don’t get what your issue is.

  • The Dude

    I think #5 on this list should be re-worded to say “Raising the bar for every other American animation studio.” While you’d be hard-pressed to find an American production match the greatness of Pixar’s canon, there have been numerous foreign animated movies that have achieved this, including “Persepolis,” “Waltz with Bashir,” “Spirited Away,” and “The Triplets of Bellville,” just to name a few (there are loads more).

    • Andy

      hmmm…weren’t all of these movies beaten by Pixar films in their respective best Animated Picture Oscar race? My point is, it’s a subjective claim that you’re making at best.

      • Matt

        well keep in mind, Shrek beat Monster’s Inc for the first Best Animated Feature Oscar, so the Oscars might not be the best barometer of quality. The first Shrek was good, and fairly unique for it’s time, but it’s pretty dated-looking by today’s standard, while Monster’s Inc still plays fine.

      • Wha’ever

        Also, keep in mind tat the Academy Awards are an American institution. Let’s not pretend it doesn’t have any effect on which film wins.

      • Woot

        Spirited Away won in it’s year, though Pixar didn’t have a movie that year either… even if it did it would have been hard to beat Spirited Away.

    • thin

      I think you might have misunderstood the point there. It was not that they make good *animated* movies, it was that their movies are so good they get nominated for awards alongside traditional live-action movies. They break out of animation-only awards and contend with the best that Hollywood has to offer. The movies you list are all great, but they weren’t nominated for awards like Best Screenplay or Best Picture, feats which Pixar’s movies have accomplished.

  • kate

    There’s nothing overtly unique about Pixar. They’ve managed to wow audiences again and again thus far. But frankly, I think they’re in danger of putting profits over story. It’s bound to happen (see Cars 2), nobody can maintain a winning streak for too long.

    P.S. Can you tell I’m not in love with Pixar like (apparently) everyone of you are?

    • Matt

      Cars 2 was a different story, that was part of the deal when Disney acquired Pixar. The Cars franchise is one of Disney’s most profitable, so Pixar had to throw them a bone and make a sequel. While you’re right that it is an example of “profits over story”, it’s (hopefully) an acceptable price they had to pay for getting to make the much more out-of-the-box stories like Up and Wall-E (and, by the looks of it, Brave).

    • Andy

      I don’t know…being able “to wow audiences again and again” is a pretty darn good accomplishment considering that no other movie studio (or star) out there has a similar streak. You are right though, the winning streak is bound to end some time….Cars 2 was a particularly sore thumb that will stick out.

      • mito

        No other studio??? The average box office take for Dreamworks films vs Pixar is within 5%, but Dreamworks actually puts out films twice as often. Blue Sky has also done well grabbing ticket sales, by creating very appealing entertainment. But these two studios don’t do the old-timey montage showing the audience how everything was so much better before their time. Add in some Randy Neumann and you’ve got the Pixar formula. Honestly – Pixar often makes only half a film: first third of Up was brilliant, the rest – unwatchable. First half of Wall-E was amazing; second half was terrible. TS3 was awful start to finish. They are losing their luster (see Cars2).

    • kate

      Can you tell I’m full of myself unlike (apparently) all of you?

      • kate

        @ ”kate”….You must feel like a genius right now, basking in the greatness of your wittism.

      • thin

        No more than you. If you don’t love Pixar that’s your business, but it doesn’t make you cooler than anyone else here.

  • Mark

    The fact that there are no musical numbers is the worst part of Pixar films although the score for Up still fills my heart with glee the same as hearing “A Whole New World,” or “Part of your World,” does. Still, a song here and there would be kinda nice.

    • Nathan

      Since when did kids films have to be musicals?

      • Mark

        Since when are Pixar films, “kid films”?

      • Nathan

        Fine, then why do Pixar films have to be musicals? To me it seems the only reason for it is because you want them to be more like Disney.

    • Tony

      It all dates back to Disney, which made musicals back when every other live-aciton film was a musical. While I like a good musical, you can’t have musical numbers on every movie just because that’s what has been done before.

      • Doris

        I love the music in the Disney movies, especially Sleeping Beauty, which is taken from the Tchaikovsky ballet. Right now I’m humming All in the Golden Afternoon from Alice in Wonderland.

      • @Doris

        YES!! I also love how Disney films use choirs in their intros. So beautiful and grand.

    • SaraS

      Mark I totally agree with you. The music in Disney movies has become as iconic as the movies themselves — those songs will live forever.
      I miss the older animated movies, with an exciting (or calming) song in the film itself.

  • Anne

    I miss hand-drawn animation. Computer animation is fine, and I like it, but it bugs me that it’s the only option these days (unless you go indie or foreign, like “The Secret of Kells.”) . I wish there were still room for both out there.

    I also can’t say that I’m thrilled it’s taken Pixar 25 years to have a movie with a female lead. Good thing “Brave” looks so enticing.

    • GAL

      There is still room for both. Recent movies like Tangled, and Pooh show that a well thought out story in a hand drawn format can still perform. The problem is that a bad story has to be doctored up with computer animation.

      • Wha’ever

        Tangled is not hand drawn… And Pooh unfortunately didn’t perform well at all.

      • steph

        I don’t think Pooh was expected to be a box office knockout. It performed at around the same level as the last Pooh movie, and I definitely think it’s DVD/Blu Ray sales will be where most of the money is at.

      • Musicfan

        I don’t think people say “oh, I won’t see go see that movie b/c it’s hand drawn!” Pooh was wonderful – but I suspect most parents will simply wait for the DVD than deal with taking really young kids to the movie theater for it. My son was totally engaged in it – unlike Cars 2.

  • jc

    I just want to point out, “How to Train your Dragon” is pretty darn good. It’s probably the only non-Pixar movie to rank up with Pixar’s best.

    Its not better than any toy story, ratatouile, or even UP, but it certainly better than Cars, A bugs life, and Monsters Inc.

    • m1

      “It’s the only non-Pixar movie to rank up with Pixar’s best.”

      The Iron Giant? Wallace and Gromit?

      • Meg

        ew and ew. Yes, in their hey-day, The Iron Giant and Wallace and Gromit were good films and good animation, but in five, ten years, when people talk animation are those the two films that pop in your head first? It could very well be so, but for the majority, it’ll be something Disney or Pixar.

      • Alfredo

        I’m not too sure about Wallace and Gromit but The Iron Giant always comes up in my conversations about great animated films. Grave of the Fireflies and Spirited Away are also great animated films not to come out of Disney/Pixar

      • Sam

        The Iron Giant is absolutely a classic, and Wallace and Gromit is still just as spellbinding today. Haters.

    • jason

      How to train a dragon is indeed a pixar “lite” film.

    • Scottt

      That dragon cartoon was an OK children’s film. But it really doesn’t work as a cinematic experience like virtually all of Pixar’s films.

  • untapttalent

    i don’t get the hate for Cars 2. yes, Pixar has established itself as a story driven studio, and their best films focus on truly enthralling characters and situations. however, what’s wrong with wanting to try something new? just because something is shorter on story than it is on visuals doesn’t mean it can’t still be exciting to watch. they wanted to make a good old fashioned spy movie in the spirit of James Bond and I think they succeeded. i actually found it more enjoyable than the first cars, and i still thought at the center of the picture was the friendship between Mater and McQueen, which kept it grounded and gave it its heart.

    • Tony

      Agreed. It may be the “worst” Pixar film, but it’s still far better than most of what’s out there. I think most of the hate comes from the fact that it centers on Mater, who is one of those love-him-or-hate-him characters. (Me, I like him) It also might have to do with point one of the article: the movie doesn’t slow down as much as the other ones, and it seems too busy for some people. But then, that’s par for the course for spy movies.

  • k

    i am going to respectfully disagree on one point– i remember the original disney flicks that did take awhile… no celebrity voices. just some heart and enough to keep me entertained. :) the Aristocats. Lady and the Tramp.(yes, there were celebs. but i was 8.) the Fox and the Hound. the Song of the South. don’t get me wrong, i loved Finding Nemo and Up… but nothing can replace my childhood. :)

  • CMG

    I love Pixar movies, but my all time favorite animated movie as of now, until something can beat it, is…How to Train Your Dragon. I can watch that movie repeatedly and I never get bored with it.

  • EricHG26

    While I think it’s dangerous the way for a long time EVERY animated film had to have songs (and most weren’t written by any team as talented as Disney’s Menken/Ashman, etc), I wanna stick up for the musical. Stephen Sondheim, to use an obvious example, has shown how song can be a truly subtle way to flesh out characer and story in a way dialogue or visuals can’t always.

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