Friday, September 7, 2012

Pixar's Movie Rankings As I See Them

John Scalzi did it first, and I am nothing but a pale imitation of him.  All the same, I felt like ranking the Disney/Pixar movies in order of my favorite to my least favorite.  Partially because I was curious to see how my list would compare to his, and partially because I disagreed with his list in a few areas, and I wanted to post how the rankings should be.

Without further ado, my favorite Disney/Pixar films in order from best to worst.

1. WALL-E (2008)
Without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite films.  It accomplishes so much with so little dialog, and it does it beautifully.  The characters are developed, interesting, engaging, and endearing.  Seriously, if your heart didn’t break a little when Wall-E opened an umbrella for Eve during the rainstorm, you are a soulless monster!

2. Toy Story 3 (2010)
If we’re comparing it as a stand alone, it may not stack up as well as the other movies since it relies so heavily on prior knowledge.  And I was the perfect age to see this movie.  I was 7 when Toy Story came out, and I was a junior in college when Toy Story 3 came out--right around the age Andy is in the movie.  But! With that said, I’ve never seen a movie take something you loved so much and really put it through the ringer.  I mean, they take your childhood and rip the heart out of it.  It gets surprisingly, beautifully dark, and I loved every second of it.

3. Toy Story (1995)
Obviously, this doesn’t reach the darkness of the third movie.  It’s the first light hearted romp.  However, it’s a great buddy movie all on its own.  It’s fun, smart, and well written.  It takes an interesting premise and continues to build layers.

4. The Incredibles (2004)
A kids movie that deals with not only what it means to be different, while tackling a Watchmen-esque premise with a kid-movie lens, but it also deals with getting older and what it means for people.  It’s a truly interesting movie with a great soundtrack.

5. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Let me just say that I love John Goodman and Billy Crystal.  So, they’re HUGE pluses in my opinion.  That said, this movie is another kids movie that tackles interesting themes--political corruption and alternate energy crises in a kids movie?  WTF?  And yet it works, and brilliantly so.

6. Toy Story 2 (1999)
This movie certainly upped the ante from the first one.  While the first movie deals with what’s like to possibly become obsolete when the newer, better model comes along, this movie deals with what it feels like to be abandoned and outgrown.  Powerful stuff.  However, it’s handled even better in the third movie, when they have to actually deal with that, instead of just theorizing about how they’ll deal with it.  Plus, I found Jesse to be kind of loud and annoying as a kid.

7. Finding Nemo (2003)
I really enjoyed this movie.  The story of a father’s need to protect the only family he has left from the dangers of the world, and the repercussions when he fails to do so.  It’s a powerful, cool movie.  However, this movie doesn’t really seem to have the grand, epic scale that some of the other movies on this list has, and so, while I enjoy it, it hasn’t really been my favorite on the list.  It’s possible that high school girl squeeliness also lowered my enjoyment of this movie over the years.

8. Brave (2012)
I actually really liked this movie, and subsequent viewings might raise this movie higher on my list.  My initial viewing, however, left me wanting more.  The commercials promised so much epic, and the movie I saw was just not what I was expecting.  I really enjoyed it, but I actually felt it was a little too short.  It takes its time setting up conflicts that it then has to quickly resolve.  That said, it’s still a powerful mother/daughter story with the first female protagonist from Pixar.  More of this, please.

9. Up (2009)
While the first 10-15 minutes of Up may be my favorite thing that’s ever been put to film ever (seriously, I cry every goddamned time I watch the beginning of this film), the rest of the film is just too light hearted.  I understand that they set up the beginning of the film that way to help balance out the light hearted tone later, but I just don’t find the theme or the story as compelling.  Still a fun watch, but things get a little zanier than I prefer, especially when compared to the beginning of the film.

10. A Bug’s Life (1998)
In a way, this is sort of just a retelling of Aladdin.  A poor, misunderstood guy meets a princess he has no shot with and reinvents himself to get into her good graces.  Eventually, his secret is exposed and they must make the choice of whether that really matters.  There’s a little more to A Bug’s Life--grasshoppers and extortion and such--but I’ve never really looked back on this one as anything more than just a fun little western-esque movie.  It has it’s good moments, but it doesn't really stand out in my mind.

11. Ratatouille (2007)
Another film that I enjoyed, but that doesn’t really stand out.  Maybe it’s that the main characters are rats, maybe it’s that it’s about cooking--which I’m not that into, or maybe it’s that it takes place in Paris, which provides it with one of the less interesting, more docile soundtracks.  Regardless, I enjoy this one--I LOVE Patton Oswalt--but I found the main human to be sort of annoying, and overall the story is fun but inconsequential.  No deep themes or interesting questions really being asked here.

12. Cars (2006)
On the one hand, I can appreciate this film as a love letter to a different era in American history.  The details are painstaking and beautiful, with gorgeous mountains, a nice country-western driving soundtrack, and several clever characters.  However, the story itself is somewhat over done--I’ve seen this same storyline done in kids movies in one way or another over and over again--and I hate, hate, HATE Mater.  I hate Larry the Cable Guy’s stand up--I find him patronizing and insulting to Southern Americans, so having an entire character based on him is like scraping nails on a chalkboard from me.  (This movie, all things considered, is kind of boring. Pretty to look at at times, but boring.)

Cars 2 (2011)
If ever a film didn’t ask for a sequel, it was Cars.  And yet, they made one, apparently not only did they decide not to expand on the theme of the previous film, they decided to completely abandoning the theme entirely.  I admit, I haven’t seen this film.  The trailers were enough to turn me off, especially when I learned that Mater would have a more central role in this film.  I plan on seeing it...eventually...but I’m not exactly clamoring for it.  (Also, despite it not necessarily being associated with Pixar...Planes...really?  Screw you!)

Monsters University (2013?)
I’m wary of prequels.  Prequels, unless they’re dealing with something significantly in the past enough to warrant it’s own tale--like The Hobbit (although, yes I know he wrote The Hobbit first, blah blah blah), then prequels, especially those involving the original characters, involve any character development in the previous film disappearing--because they haven’t gone through those lessons yet.  And I can’t imagine what theme they could be tackling in this film.  What about college is deep?  This feels like a superfluous sequel--like Cars 2 looked, but I’ll try to reserve some judgement until I actually see it.  At least Billy Crystal and John Goodman are back.