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Pixar needs to cut it out.
I am sure, loyal followers, you are asking, “Nick, what are you talking about?” Well, I’ll tell you. I recently saw the tease trailer for the Pixar’s next film Brave.
Now, I am sure the movie will be fine, and it will rake in a bajillion dollars. My issue (or growing concern, if you will) is that Pixar is moving away from what made the studio the crown jewel it was in the first place. Before they made really good kid movies that adults could enjoy. However, over the past five years or so, it seems that they switched to making really good movies for adults that kids can enjoy as well.
The last few films have seemed to focus more and more on dark subject material. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing for a family movie, but it seems that Pixar is more concerned about what boundaries they can get away with instead of focusing on other elements of their movies (namely, their stories and characters).
Worked for him.
This somewhat started in The Incredibles. I really enjoyed that movie, but I noticed there were several background, throwaway lines that pushed some minor boundaries. For example, some of Syndrome’s henchmen were humorously playing a drinking game when citizens were fleeing in terror. Granted, this isn’t bad at all, but I think the powers at be at Pixar saw that they can really start adding in some adult items.
A few years later, Ratatouille came out and it was all downhill from there. I need to confess, unlike the rest of the world, I did not care for Ratatouille. I felt it the story was all over the place with things just happening for the convenience of the plot. However, one central element of the movie had the main character be a bastard child. Again, this isn’t bad, but we are now veering more into what is commonly referred to as “adult themes”.
Then we had Wall-E, another film I didn’t care for, but everyone else did (sorry, I refuse to believe that the human race will ever get that bad). This is the film that pushed Pixar into going dark. There were several depressing moments in the movie such as the robot torture scenes and Wall-E dying (and coming back to life…somehow).
Wall-E is Jesus?
I skipped Up, so I can’t fully comment on that film. However, the opening scenes have become wildly known for the developing relationship of the old man and his wife and her death. This was a movie for kids, right?
In 2010, Pixar went back into the well to bring us Toy Story 3. It wasn’t a bad film, but mostly uninspired. The previous two Toy Story films got it right on how to make a kid movie that adults will love too. For the most part, TS3 did this, but for some unknown reason, the climax of the film got really, really dark where we thought the toys were going to be killed (even the characters were accepting their demise!). This was just too dark for a Toy Story film. There is nothing wrong with having characters in a kid movie face peril, but this sequence went on a bit too long making it uncomfortable.
This year, we are treated to another sequel in the form of Cars 2 (I never knew the first Cars was that much of a success). I haven’t seen it, but from the reports I am reading online, this film features, in addition to a needlessly complex plot (which parents are claiming their child didn’t know what was going on), a sequence where the characters are brutality tortured. What?
She loves this show!
This brings us to Brave. The tease trailer is unlike any previous Pixar film trailer before it. All the others have featured some goofy fun shtick from the main character. This one here is dark and forbidding. If I had a young child (and, as far as I know, I don’t), I would be hesitant to take him or her to see it. At least Pixar seems to be upfront about it this time.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that Pixar needs to pander to the lowest common denominator. And I appreciate that Pixar is trying to spread its wings and try different things. That is what makes them great. However, they need to find that balance again. I just await the day they go back to making movies designed for children which adults can also enjoy, especially when their main competitors at DreamWorks seem to have found that balance with their recent outings.
I’m also getting slightly irritated with the continuing theme in the Pixar movies of “corporations who try to sell you things are bad” given that Pixar itself is a corporation who tries to sell us things. But that’s another post.