Happy Wednesday, b-rollers! As promised, here is the first part of the official b-roll guide to Pixar. To refresh your memory, here is a list of all 11 of Pixar’s feature films (excluding the short yet delightful films that usually precede the main features), in order of release:
A Bug’s Life
Toy Story 2
Toy Story 3
As always, these rankings reflect the opinion of b-roll and no one else. Feel free to (politely) disagree with me in the comment section below.
So without further ado, here are numbers 6-11. Drumroll, please…
Okay, full disclosure: This is the only Pixar film I have not seen in its entirety. Thus, ranking it last is a little unfair; really, it earns an “incomplete.” I could be flippant about the reason why I haven’t seen it all and say something like, “Well, I’m not a four year old boy, so…”, but the truth is that this was the only Pixar film I’d ever heard mixed things about. The general consensus is that it’s perfectly fine, but unlike the other Pixar films it’s not quite amazing. But you can’t ever go truly wrong when Paul Newman is involved – RIP, Butch Cassidy – so I know I’ll get around to it someday. Probably when my nephew is four or so.
The geniuses at Pixar have made me fall in love with a lot of things: monsters, robots, bugs, toys, fish, talking dogs. The rodents were a tougher sell, I have to say. I live in a city; rats scurry by me all the time, and I’m never tempted to follow and see if they have a burning desire to whip up a bisque. Rats just aren’t inherently adorable. That being said, the movie is. It’s not a masterpiece, but Ratatouille is something that most other films – animated or otherwise – are not: sweet, clever and full of heart.
9. Monsters, Inc.
Monsters, Inc. is the favorite of a lot of people, and I get it. It’s hilarious. When you create a monster characterized by a gigantic eyeball and voiced by Billy Crystal – and who else wishes they could’ve worked in the line “Have fun storming the castle!”? – hilarity will inevitably ensue. So why don’t I unequivocally love this film? I have no idea. I like it very much, but it never captured me in quite the same way as the other early Pixars did. It isn’t quite as elegant; it’s more of a laughfest. But it is one of the funniest animated films around.
8. A Bug’s Life
A Bug’s Life is really Pixar’s forgotten film, which is a shame. Sure, it pales a bit next to Pixar’s best, but it really is a delightful film. It’s funny and charming, and like all Pixar movies, it’s brilliantly cast not with superstars but with actors who perfectly inhabit the characters (including my personal favorite, Denis Leary as the macho ladybug Francis). It won’t make you sob – and yes, I’ve sobbed during at least half of the films on this list – but it deserves more appreciation. I haven’t seen it in about ten years, but maybe it’s time to dust off my VHS copy (and my VCR, for that matter) and watch it again.
7. The Incredibles
Easily Pixar’s slickest and most grown-up film, The Incredibles is really an action movie – and a damn fine one, thank you very much – cloaked in kid-friendly animation. It’s wildly entertaining, and I can see why many people think it’s one of Pixar’s best. I don’t quite agree; I think that as good as it is, The Incredibles doesn’t have the same emotional punch as some of the studio’s other films. But do I love this movie? Oh, hell yeah. It’s a blast, and the little touches – such as Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, in full superhero garb and in hot pursuit of the film’s villain, bickering about which freeway exit to take, not to mention every single scene involving Edna Mode – make the movie worth watching. Repeatedly.
6. Toy Story
It’s almost a shame that the Toy Story franchise gets better with each sequel, because that seems to imply that the first film is anything less than wonderful. And that would be untrue; the original Toy Story is really, really wonderful. It has such beautiful elements: Superb animation. The nostalgia of childhood. The whip-smart dialogue (“You are a sad, strange little man – and you have my pity”), perfectly voiced by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen (et al). The action that keeps the film humming. The darling postscript that ties it all together. It’s completely, utterly wonderful, and the two sequels are only possible because the bar was set so damn high in the first place. Nowadays, there are roughly 872 movies released each year that utilize computer animation; but Toy Story was the first, and even fifteen years later, it’s still one of the best.
So, there you have it! The Top 5 is coming on Friday. As you can see, Toy Story 3 made the cut – but did it make it to the top spot? Stay tuned. And chime in on your thoughts so far: Did I egregiously shun your favorite Pixar film by shutting it out of my Top 5? Have I missed the boat on any of my selections? Share, b-rollers!