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Kids Need Pixar (and Pixar Needs Adults)
June 30, 2011Posted by on
Editor’s note: This blog post is somewhat in response to Nick’s earlier Pixar blog available right here on this site.
Kid’s movies suck nowadays. They’re just terrible. For every Kung Fu Panda there’s another Ice Age. For every Up there’s a Monster’s Vs. Aliens, or worse yet, a Megamind. In the past 20 years the ratio for terrible to good kids movies has to be something like 20:1. The past year alone has seen Rango, Rio, Hoodwinked 2, Gnomeo and Juliet, Kung Fu Panda 2, Megamind, and others either under-perform or completely flounder at the box office.
In the pantheon of child-aimed movies, only Pixar seems to release consistent, quality pictures that not only appeal to kids and their parents, but also tackle diverse and complicated subject matter like death (Up), growing up, loyalty, and friendship (all Toy Story 3), love (WALL-E), finding your place in life (Ratatouille, which is good no matter what Nick says), and friendship (Cars). The only other animated project in the last 5 years to even rival Pixar’s films has been the excellent How to Train Your Dragon, a movie which I actually thought was better than Toy Story 3.
In the 1980s, I remember watching films like The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit, The Fox and the Hound, The Secret of Nimh and various other films that elicited emotion, excitement, and awe from my siblings and I. In the early to mid-1990s, Disney seemed to hit their stride, releasing four critically acclaimed films in a row (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King). Since this time period, only Pixar has released consistently great entertainment for children.
It is true that I have somewhat trashed Toy Story 3 in the past. I found it to be too derivative of the first two films and I thought it played more like a video game than a movie in certain spots. But it also taught children a great lesson about growing up, moving on, and finding your place in the world. It bled themes like loyalty in friends and loved ones. It was just so very mature. Certain themes and elements reminded me very much of other mature animated works like The Last Unicorn and An American Tale. I very much appreciated Pixar’s efforts even if I enjoyed Toy Story 2 more than 3. What does that even matter if Pixar is the only company releasing films that don’t pander to kids like they’re idiots?
2009’s Up, quite possibly my favorite Pixar film and also the best Indiana Jones-style adventure movie in a long, long time, had me and my fellow movie-goers in tears in the first five minutes. Every time I watch Up, I still cry at the heartbreak and loss Carl experiences. I get emotional even now as I think about the Michael Giacchino-penned score. Kids got great entertainment from Up, but they were also subject to life-lessons they absolutely needed to hear. Meanwhile, the latest dreck released by Dreamworks probably involves farting ogres and a character voiced by Wanda Sykes (I love that Pixar doesn’t need to rely on stunt-casting to sell a movie).
I will continue to patronize Pixar films (except the Cars franchise — because Larry the Cable Guy is terrible) due to their mature subject matter, their ability to teach kids the lessons they need to hear, their excellent stories, and their cutting edge animation. I’ll be the first in line to see Brave. Hey Nick, wanna join me?