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Pixar and the Weight of Expectation…

Well, it probably had to happen. I know it’s probably not statistically impossible, just highly improbable – but I guess that I always knew (deep down) that Pixar’s batting average was too good to last. I mean, I (at the very least) really like all of their films, and I genuinely love the majority of them. And that fact is borne out by the Rotten Tomatoes ratings of the various films. The vast majority rank in the 90% to 100% range, something any studio would kill for: Toy Story (100%), A Bug’s Life (91%), Toy Story 2 (100%), Monsters Inc (95%), Finding Nemo (98%), The Incredibles (97%), Ratatouille (96%), Wall-E (96%), Up (98%), Toy Story 3 (99%). Even the single film that ranks lowest, the only one not in the range, still had mostly positive reviews, Cars with 74%. However, Cars 2 looks to have bucked that winning trend, with reviews that not only fall far short of Pixar’s impressive average, but is actually pretty negative.

I can’t help but feel more than a little bit sad.

Do Pixar need to get in gear?

This article should come with a proviso. I haven’t seen Cars 2. It isn’t released over here for another few weeks. However, all the buzz and discussion on the interwebs was too much to ignore. I’m going to go with the assumption, for now, that the critical consensus (including some big names I respect and admire) is correct, and then make up my own mind on seeing it. I suppose these reflects are probably just as valid whether Cars 2 is a bad film or not – the harsh law of averages tells us that our beloved film makers will (more than likely) eventually mess up.

It’s strange that this is so disappointing a feeling. Partially because I might have suspected that the sequel to their weakest film would inevitably be their weakest film, but also because I know it shouldn’t make a difference. Next year Pixar will release Brave, an original film, and I honestly expect that to be on-par with their earlier efforts. Hell, the Pixar team are also bringing us John Carter of Mars earlier next year, and I’m looking forward to that (though I don’t expect it to be in quite the same critical range as their earlier films). This is just a blip on the radar, which is why I don’t think that excessive naval-gazing is necessary.

Does PIxar's next movie need to be a little bit Brave-er?

In fact, I know I shouldn’t really care at all. I certainly don’t blame Pixar or Disney for making the film. Cars is easily their most lucrative effort – not from box office sales, but from merchandising. As a colleague remarked, her three-year-old nephew loves it because it features cars and they talk… the appeal is simple and it’s clearly aimed at a much younger demographic than the vast majority of their films. I hope that the kids who do love the film grow up to watch some of the other more impressive films in the Pixar stable and come to love them. I didn’t say “even more” there because I don’t begrudge people their favourite films. Hell, I love Demolition Man, for example. If kids love Cars now, there’s no reason for them not to treasure it when they grow up.

I doubt that Pixar even approached the film as if they were making something like Wall-E or Up, and – again – it’s not something I can fault them for. They want to make a nice, breezy movie, that’s fine. It doesn’t need the weight of the world on its shoulders. Not every movie needs to make us cry or get emotional or stuffed up. There’s nothing wrong with a film maker (or film makers) attempting something a bit “lighter.” It doesn’t always work out, like it didn’t here. However, even when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t necessarily invalidate what came before.

Have Pixar hit a wall-e?

Still, despite all this, I do feel a little bit sad. Again, it’s not disappointment or disillusionment. I know that this doesn’t “mean” anything in a big sort of pseudo-spiritual manner. Pixar’s slate of films isn’t going to magically start sucking as a result of this. Their approach to movies isn’t going to fundamentally shift. The guys who produced this aren’t new corporate hotshots who will be running the show from here on out, they’re the same guys they have always been. They’ll get their stuff together and – in a few years – this poorly-reviewed instalment will be a piece of trivia rather than an event of monumental importance.

I think the reason I do feel a little bit bad about all this is the weight of expectation. Part of it might be that the studio started working in my childhood and (at least) every few years there was another classic movie released that filled me with the same sort of joy and enthusiasm as Toy Story did all those years ago. In fact, of late, each film seemed to be getting better and better. I know this argument isn’t supported by the Rotten Tomatoes scores (which I think serve better as indicators than as cast-iron certainties), but I think that the recent few years have been the very best of Pixar. Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3. They weren’t just great movies, they were amazing movies.

I'm still buzzed about their next project...

Even though the rational part of my brain told me that nothing can be perfect forever, especially in an industry as fickle as the movie business, and that – eventually – Pixar would falter. It’s just the law of averages. And my movie-watching experience told me that it would probably happen sooner rather than later. Spielberg’s first creative disappointment, 1941, was only his second film after breaking out with Jaws four years earlier. And, despite that, some would say that the best moments were still ahead of him. Disappointment happens. It happens to everybody.

Still, I think the reason that Pixar’s critical disappointment cut so deep is because Pixar was so very good at getting me to suspend my disbelief – to disengage the cold and rational part of my brain and react to the wonderful emotion on screen. Pixar films are, above all, so very good at making me feel that I often forget to be cold and cynical. At their best, they remind me of being a child, with all that innocent hope and optimism that slowly gave way to a healthy amount of cynicism. I don’t mean to sound jaded, everyone needs to be a little bit cynical in their day-to-day lives, it’s part of the wisdom and experience that comes with growing up – it’s not a bad thing in reasonable amounts. However, for the two hours of a Pixar film, I often felt that cynicism fade away. I literally believed that anything was possible.

I felt the strangest mix of joy and sadness as Andy gave away the toys that had served him so well over the past few years at the end of the third Toy Story, even though they were “only” toys in a CGI film. I cried a bit when Carl turned the page he was always afraid to in Up, despite the fact I’d watched him fly his house to South America, something utterly ridiculous and impossible – hell, I smiled at the beautifully touching note left by his deceased wife, despite the fact that neither character was real. That sequence of Wall-E and EVA dancing through the stars might be the most beautiful dancing sequence in the history of cinema, and it featured two CGI robots in outer space.

In short, Pixar made me believe that the impossible was possible. I guess that it made me believe, perhaps subconsciously, that even the film studio itself could defy the laws of averages and my cynical common sense. I guess, reflecting on it, they managed to make me suspend my disbelief in the real world… which is really something for an animation studio (or any film studio) when you think about it. I didn’t just believe in the world they showed me, I believed that their energy and heart could somehow carry through and defy the rules of the real world. Or maybe I’m just a latent romantic.

I could use a little lift...

I don’t want this to seem like a sad post mourning the loss of the company’s perfect record. I’m not bitter or angry or disillusioned or anything as melodramatic as that. I just think that this minor hiccup reminded me of just how wonderful Pixar are, and the fact that I am so sad about this illustrates just how good they are at what they do. I don’t want to end this article with some trite observation or advice. Really, the guys at Pixar know what they’re doing far better than I do. So I just want to end it on an optimistic note, because I think it’s fitting. So I declare: I will see Cars 2 when it’s released here. I might even like it more than most.

However, even if I don’t, I’ll still keep looking forward to Pixar’s next big release.

119 Responses

  1. be sure to tell the rest of us , who aren’t convinced yet to watch cars 2, how it turned out 🙂 nice post

  2. The Incredibles is a classic movie 🙂

    • I actually have an especially weakness to that one and Finding Nemo. Everyone really likes them, but I love them. Then again, I think everyone has their irrational Pixar favourites!

  3. I think Pixar’s record, like you are saying… is fantastic… and I will continue to go see everything they create. We went yesterday to see Cars 2…. and for once… it was targeted at their younger demographic… it was very cute… breezy as you put it… yet the colors and appearance of the movie never felt cheaply or quickly done. The story was a little boring… but the movie was still very cute, witty, and charming. Little kids will love and cherish this movie… like you said… they’re TALKING CARS!!! Such a brilliant idea. It was not my favorite of the Pixar movies… it’s actually quite hard for me to pick a favorite with WallE, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo out there… but it was still great. It’s funny the pressure we put on Pixar and Disney… we don’t do that to the lame cartoons like Monster’s vs. Aliens…. or Megamind…. both lame… we do not judge them with high standards and then tear them apart when we don’t think they reach full potential.

  4. FWIW, I saw Cars 2 yesterday and thought it was amazing.

    It’s not a “kid’s” movie (raelly which Pixar films are?). It’s a spy movie. And as such, it’s much more intense, much more action packed. It doesn’t have as much heart as the other Pixar films (it didn’t make me cry, which may be a first for Pixar), but it’sa different kind of film.

    There is a message of being yourself, and that is solid throughout the film. But they are focusing more on the plot (and it’s a good one). There are jokes aplenty and the scenery is beyond breathtaking.

    But it’s not really a sequel to Cars so much as it is another story i the Cars universe. Mater is the protagonist. And, because he is so honest, it’s hard to make him have an emotional arc.

    So in some ways it doesn’t live up to the Pixar platform. But at the same time, it’s a really enjoyable and exciting movie, My wife and I were blown away. Although I don’t think my kids enjoyed it as much (5 & 3). Of course they didn’t raelly get Wall-E or Up either.

    Cars 2 will stand the test of time for its great sequences. It’s just not as moving as Cars was.

    • Thanks for sharing, and glad to hear it isn’t all bad. I do want to see it and make my own call… Shame about the staggered release date.

  5. Thank you for so eloquently putting into words how Pixar movies have made me feel. For Pixar to be able to suspend belief like you mentioned is an accomplishment and for them to reach in and touch a depth of emotion the way some of them can says much for them. There are a handful of movies that have scenes that will always cause me to choke up or even tear up and the scene from Toys 3 that you mentioned will always be one of those for two reasons: Andy letting go of his childhood while at the same time celebrating it is one of them and is touching for that reason alone but the other is that it makes me realize that my 7 year old son will be where Andy is someday in the not-so-distant future, saying his goodbyes to his childhood and the few toys out of many that are important to him and moving into his adult life-and when that happens it will be ME that has to let the child go. It didn’t touch on that aspect very much but you just KNEW that Andy’s leaving had to be killing his mother on the inside. Good films find ways to speak to you that way. As for Cars 2, it has a lot of merit on its own and while its not in the same league with Toy Story, it will appeal to the audience it was probably intended for. Thank you for this post and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Thanks. I remember reading that the movies kinda derived from some of the feelings the Pixar crew associated with being parents. In many ways, Toy Story could be read, for example, as a child choosing between two father figures – with Buzz as a divorced mother’s new boyfriend and husband, while Woody plays the role of the kid’s biological dad. Personally, I love the idea that Woody was a gift from Andy’s dad, who is absent for some reason. Toy Story 2 is then realising that you don’t always get to be your kid’s best friend – not because they don’t love you, but because life moves so fast at that age. And, as you mentioned, Toy Story 3 is the kid actually leaving to make his way in the world, where the house seems all big and empty and quiet, like the Toys feel at the start of the movie, even before Andy’s gone.

  6. So many of Pixar’s films are amazing. Like you, I’ve not seen Cars 2, and I’m not expecting anything from it. I am going to keep my eyes open to what they do in the future. Afterall, I love The Incredibles, Monsters Inc., and so many other Pixar films.

    • I know. It’s a bit of a shame given their pedigree. But let’s look ahead, as a lead of theirs might say, to infinity and beyond!

  7. I loved the first Cars movie. It was great! I saw Cars 2 this past weekend, and was very disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good movie. But it lacked the Pixar heart that their other movies have. It felt like some high up executives said, “Hey, Cars made us a lot of money. We need to make another one!”. The spy theme just didn’t fit in the Cars universe. It was a risky move for them to do it, and sadly, it didn’t pay off. However, I can say, the price of admission was worth it to see the Toy Story short at the beginning. They never go wrong there.

  8. I was never a fan of Cars but I do love Pixar movies. They have the ability to add humanity to all of their stories. Monster’s Inc is still my favorite of their movies but they each one has tug on my heart strings.

    • Yep. My pet “overrated Pixar movie” is a Bug’s Life, but even that tugs my heartstrings. And I just really like it. Imagine how awesome that must be – the movie I think is overrated is the movie that I “only” really enjoyed.

  9. Great post. I’m not so sold on Cars 2 either. I’ll wait for the rental — at the library.

  10. Pixar brought us Toy Story, so for that reason alone, I will be a faithful fan. 🙂

    Cute post!

  11. When I was nursing my son who will be 6 years old this summer I used to love the “shorts” that Pixar was putting out. Anyone know of Pixar shorts DVD’s that I could buy? jessicatyler143@aol.com

  12. I’m waiting for it and hope not to be disappointed.

  13. i love pixar’s stories. my vote goes to “toy story” 🙂

  14. I’m surprised about the reviews on the interweb… I saw a preview of Cars 2 and I thought it looked a lot of fun- especially in 3D!!

    • Hopefully they’re wrong, but it’s still a significant change in the reception of a Pixar film.

  15. I think a lot of the criticism levied against Cars 2 is that it doesn’t do much to innovate, which is a similar criticism of The Hangover 2. I have yet to see Cars 2, but if it falls under Hangover 2’s trappings, then my conclusion is that, if these sequels were standalone movies and NOT sequels, then they wouldn’t be judged as harshly. I know I was greatly disappointed in Hangover 2 because it did nothing to build upon the freshness of the first film.

    Another issue that critics might have with Cars 2 is that, deep down inside, they’re actually hoping for a sequel to The Incredibles. That may have influenced some (not all) of the backlash, as people may have been incredulous that Pixar spent time and money on a derivative sequel rather than a labor of love like The Incredibles 2 is expected to be.

    Finally, I think that we’ve all expected so much out of Pixar with all of the amazing masterpieces they’ve churned out over the years. My generation grew up on Pixar, so there’s a nostalgia factor that feels betrayed when a movie like this is released that is aimed towards the younger generation instead of ours. Furthermore, today’s critics hold Pixar to a higher standard because of the increasing quality of their films, to where they’ve become more than just kids’ movies. As a result, Cars 2 is automatically bad in their eyes because it *does* sound like “just” a kids’ movie.

    I’m still looking forward to seeing it on my own, but I’ll try not to watch with the same level of cynicism that I’m reading from the critics’ reviews.

    • Actually, I’m not sure I’d want a sequel to The Incredibles, as much as I love it. I like leaving it on a cliffhanger, with the world ready to be rocked by that family… but I wouldn’t complain if it showed up, to be honest and would look forward to it far more than Cars 2.

  16. I really hope the reviews for Cars 2 are wrong, because I really want to see it…

    • In fairness, very few of the reviews say it’s terrible… at worst it seems to be far less good than their others. I think that there’s a chance – at least based on what people have said here – that it will be fairly entertaining.

  17. The reviews I’ve read have rated it negatively because of the shift in main character. Many didn’t like the increased focus on Mater. I will hold off on making my decision until I see the movie because I actually enjoyed the country bumpkin that is Mater.

  18. This is EXACTLY how my husband and I felt after seeing “Cars 2.” I knew Pixar couldn’t be perfect forever–but it made me so sad to see them falter. But we’ve got “Brave” to look forward to and I’ve no doubt that they will learn from this experience and come back swinging.

    Great post!

    • Thanks Maureen. Yep, it’s odd… but this whole thing makes me anticipate Brave all the more.

  19. i love Pixar animation….they are so creative and original.

  20. Cars 2 is an amazing “car”-toon film with endless emotions and breathtaking scenes! The reviews are wrong, go watch…

  21. I just saw Cars 2 and don’t get where you guys are coming from! Did we see the same movie? It broke the mold of previous Pixar movies! It was a pure spy movie! Maybe you guys were expecting more racing, like in Cars 1. It was everything a 3D animated movie should have been. Unique shots that you couldn’t do with a real camera, photo realism beyond compare, and new and fun story. It was kinda like a Hick meets James Bond story that I found fresh.

    I liked it!

    • If it can do that, I’ll be happy. Even if it isn’t as deep, as long as it’s thoroughly entertaining, I think I’ll be okay. Being honest though, even despite the reviews, i’m not expecting it to be bad. I’m just worried it’ll be middle of the road – which might arguably be worse, if only because it makes it average (and Pixar are anything but average).

      • Yes, Pixar isn’t average!
        I think it will do better in the box office then Cars! Mostly because of the merchandising of Cars!

  22. My God, I love Pixar, no matter what. No matter if Cars 2 sucks, I’ll keep loving it. It’s true what you say, Pixar movies are the ones that touch me most, and it’s incredible, because they don’t even star actual people! I cried TWICE with Toy Story 3 (in the incinerator scene when the toys hold their hands and in the scene you mentioned in which Andy gives his toys away), and I’ve recently cried with a short film they made (Partly Cloudy). How crazy is that? Anyway, I really enjoyed your post and I’ll be waiting for your Cars 2 review! 🙂

    PS: My favourites are the three Toy Story movies and Monsters Inc 😀

    • Partly Cloud was awesome, but I love Night & Day even more I think – not in a crying sort of way, but in a “this is really great” sort of way.

  23. ok, i was disappointed about pirates of the caribbean 4. wasn’t sure about cars 2, will go and see it with the kids anyhow. and with the mixed reviews here, i do look forward to it now. not being a formula1 fan, i prefer a bit of a different story … spy sounds good to me! thanks geordi 😉

    • Yep, globe-trotting cars sounds at least a little bit fun, doesn’t it? If not the stuff of great drama, at least entertaining.

  24. Seriously…”Planes?” What’s next? “Boats?” “Trains?” Oh, sorry. “Thomas, the Tank Engine” has already been done, but I guess that wouldn’t stop Disney from trying to make money off the idea.

  25. Writing a movie review about a movie that you (admittedly) haven’t seen is a waste of keystrokes, a cop-out and mere “piling on” of the opinion of others who may, or may not, be gunning for Pixar to finally have a dud.
    I loved the original Cars, but I really believe Cars 2 raised the bar. Of course, I’m an adult who appreciates all of the hidden adult humor in this movie, much like i appreciate Bugs Bunny’s “Leopold” or the “Barber of Seville.”

    • Em… this isn’t a review. It never claims to be. It’s a personal reaction to a piece of news of interest to me, and just putting some thoughts down on virtual paper.

      And the Barber of Seville is a classic.

  26. Let’s face it, Pixar was “forced” to do Cars 2 by Disney due to multi-billion dollar market for its merchandising. If that means they will continue to pump great films, one little clunker isn’t that much to pay for it…

  27. Congrats on making WP front page, Darren, wow you’re on a roll 😀 Agree with Castor, the sole purpose of Cars 2 is those merchandise tie-ins. I have high hopes for Brave though, that looks like there’s some serious creativity behind it.

    • Thanks Ruth. No idea how this is happening! Ah well, back to normal soon, I suppose.

      • Now congrats on the IMDb post! Double the traffic eh, Darren? Well done, man!

        P.S. It’s about time IMDb pick up your stuff, you’re an insightful writer!

      • Thanks Ruth. No idea how or why, but I’m glad for it. An amazing end to an amazing week.

  28. I think it’s always heartbreaking when a filmmaker makes a dud. It’s always worrying if the film will be a 1941 or One From the Heart. Will it be a blip no one remembers or the signalling of an epic decline? However, even if there’s never another good Pixar movie, their legacy of forever raising the bar for animated movies is secure.

    I say this as someone who is not particularly a Pixar fan. Sure, I really liked The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Toy Story and Wall-E, but I never cared much for the other Pixar entries. I guess I just didn’t find the stories in their other movies particularly interesting.

    • Thanks Justin. I get the sense they could retire now and be proud of the run they’ve had. Hell, even just the run of films that you really liked.

  29. “Ratatouille” I liked

  30. Good Job!

  31. Saw Cars 2 in a theater crammed with kiddies eager for more action from their favorite cars: Lightning McQueen and his rusty sidekick, Mater. On that note I think they were a tad disappointed. Aside from the main point of view swapping from McQueen to Mater in the second film, perhaps what lost them the most was the overabundance of new characters and locations that had inadequate screen time for development.

    Still, there were classic moments, my favorite being the mistaken wasabi ice cream.

    Despite what you’ve heard, you should still see the movie.

  32. “Up” would have made an incredible short film had they stopped right after the house was in the air.
    I cried like a baby during that first part of the movie – it is so touching and incredibly sad, but in a good, joyous way…
    The rest of the movie was …well, bizarre…

    Congratulations on FP!

    • Thanks. I do love that second half, “Now have your own adventure!” always gets me even though I know it’s coming. That was cry-like-a-baby territory for me.

    • @ fornormalstepfathers – Finally someone who thinks that the second half of UP just wasn’t well, up to par w/ the first. I too cried like a baby in that marriage montage! Still, it was good, just not something I’d watch again unlike other Pixar movies.

  33. I’ve always loved Pixar’s work 🙂

  34. Toy Story will always be my favorite. Saw Cars 2 yesterday with my grandson and he fell asleep half way through. He loved the first Cars but this was alittle over his head. I would only recommend age 8 or older. Too much shoot em up and blowing things up for a younger audience. And it was way too much noise for me. Can’t understand how my grandson slept through all that noise. With the cost of going to see a movie these days, I would wait for the DVD to come out.

  35. i love cars i m a big car fan (crazy type of)……i have watched cars 2 yesterday is was gud but not that refreshing and charming like cars…..i am shocked that the avg. of cars was 76%……..well their are reasons…..anyways you will love cars 2, but it seems like fused a bit with other movies …….i love pixar and dreamworks

  36. Nice post. I’m sure Cars 2 won’t be as bad, I’m looking forward to it since I loved the first one a lot 🙂

  37. Cars rule Cars2 tooooo :D’

  38. I hope that Cars 2 will be as good as first or near it. And as far as I’m concerned about Pixar I can tell that I very much enjoyed Wall-E. 🙂

  39. I love Wall-E so much!!

  40. I love Disney very much!

    • I have a soft spot for them, I must say, but I grew up during the 1990s renaissance. Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and even the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

  41. I’m a huge Pixar fan, so great post.
    The first cars was my least favorite Pixar movie, so naturally I probably won’t be seeing Cars 2 anytime soon. I hope that Pixar learns from their mistakes on Cars2 and comes back even better. They have been able to tap into something that only Disney was able to do back in the 80’s/90’s.

    • I don’t even think there’s too many mistakes to learn from. I think they went in just wanting to make a simply story without the massive emotional weight they usually do – in many ways, as Castor pointed out, perhaps it was just an excuse to tie in on merchandising, while cutting loose and not making a masterpiece. Sometimes even professional footballs like to just kick the ball around a parking lot. I think they’ll be back on form next year.

      • I think you just hit the nail on the head with your reply. That’s the feeling I got from the movie as well. It was visually stunning, action-packed and light-hearted. Doesn’t sound so bad, huh?

        Great article and comments…

        (I have a soft spot in my heart for Finding Nemo, too!)

      • Thanks Debbie!

  42. Hard to judge a movie by a trailer, or a song by a clip.. I haven’t seen the movie, but my family did and they loved it. My daughter thought it was better than the first. But with kids, they don’t take each screen of the movie apart like adults do. We tend to ruin movies by doing that. Why did my kids like, it made them laugh. Why do adults dislike it, the keep putting it up to every part of the original.

    • You might have a point, but I think that it’s an issue because Pixar’s past movies have withstood being picked apart in that manner.

  43. I hope this movie is as good as the first one. Im sure it will be. My wife and I love all the Disney Pixar movies.

    • Being honest, I’d hope it’s better than, since Cars was definitely the weakest Pixar film to date, in my opinion. Still, the weakest Pixar film to date still makes it one to watch.

  44. I think what people tend to forget is that Pixar is a company that has to have money to make movies. I mean, in the earliest days, they got away with not making much content while taking in a lot of money (Steve Job’s and George Lucas’ money on top of that). When they started working with Disney, that changed. They had to make money to finance their next film production.

    To me, Cars 2 is one way to make fast money off a popular children’s brand that will help finance their next production after Brave. It takes money to make movies, and you can’t just sit around and hope during the next two years of making ONE big movie that you can survive without bringing in any capital.

    Pixar has a lot of titles riding in the background all of the time, and that takes a lot of money to keep going. Otherwise, movies like the Incredibles and Wall-E may have never made it to the big screen.

    One of my personal favorites is Monster Inc. I know they are in the process of making a sequel to that one, as well, called University Inc. (about Mike and Sully back in college). Not sure exactly how that’s going to pan out, but I see it’s one way to get some money while continuing to develop these new IPs that they keep behind doors.

    • Yep, and I think that knowledge is sorta why I can forgive them the occasional bow to corporate demands – they are a company after all, and, as far as movie companies go, they do deserve to make shedloads of money. Perhaps not for the films they do, but – as a great man once said – deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it

  45. I have not yet seen the movie CARS 2 yet but was also pretty nervous. It looks like they just took it too far. But I do love PIXAR and hope they get back to their amazing movies.

    • Yep. Already anticipating Brave. And Brad Bird is doing Mission: impossible 4, so looking forward to that too.

  46. Amazing summary of the company man, I just wish that I was as hopeful about it all as you are, especially since this mornings announcement that ‘Toy Story 4’ is currently in production. Because Cars 2, well lets just say that it wasn’t all that; I have a longer review here though if anyone is interested:


    • Thanks. I thought that was strange, as a trilogy is just perfect and I thought they said just shorts from here on out?

  47. What a great article, and a very interesting perspective – love your writing style! I’ll keep this site bookmarked. Cheers!

  48. I saw Cars 2 and really liked it. But its different. Its actually very different from the original Cars, which I also liked. It DOES lack, what some call heart, but what I have to call a tendency toward too much melodrama. Pixar has been credited for so long with matching gorgeous visuals with incredible emotion. But lately its been too much. Up was way too emotionally manipulative. Like bad country music. Toy Story 3 was really great. But it walked a very fine line and got really close to pushing too hard in that direction.

    I found Cars 2 to be a bit of a breath of fresh air for Pixar. An action adventure comedy, with only a mere splash of heart/sentimentality. Is it a great movie? No. Its only pretty good. Its fun, its exciting, its clever. Its also, bar none, the most visually stunning animated movie ever.

    Pixar tried to do something different, and they are being punished for that. But I applaud them.

    • I really hope that it is something like that. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it melodrama, but it is possible to make a film that doesn’t need heart to be good. So I kinda hope it’s an issue with expectations and that – perhaps by controlling mine – I’ll appreciate it more when I see it.

  49. 1941 was Spielberg’s 4th theatrical film, after The Sugarland Express, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I can see disregarding The Sugarland Express (though it’s a great film) because it wasn’t his big breakout, but Close Encounters is hard to forget about…

    • Yep, but his second after his breakout. So Close Encounters was the first after his breakout and 1941 was the second after it.

      Thanks for the comment, though. I think I might need to tidy that to make it a bit clearer.

      • Ah, I see what you were saying. That did confuse me!

        And though it may be sacrilege to say so, even as a big Pixar fan, seeing the Tomatometer score for Cars 2 was actually kind of a relief. It meant I wouldn’t need to go out of my way to pay a bunch of money to see it at the theater. A non-essential Pixar movie is easier on my wallet…I can just wait and rent it when it’s on DVD.

        I’m saying this as someone who agrees that the original Cars was only pretty good, not great…If a sequel to one of the GREAT Pixars (my personal favorite is The Incredibles) got a low score, that would sting no matter what.

      • No worries – I can be a bit… random at times, for lack of a better word. I probably would have put a little extra effort in if I’d known everybody was goign to read it. It’s been a bit of a surprise to me.

        I love The Incredibles too. That and Finding Nemo are probably tied as my favourite Pixar films. Which is odd, because they are (arguably) the most conventional – The Incredibles is arguably just an amazing Fantastic Four movie, and Finding Nemo is perhaps the most “traditionally Disney-esque” film in Pixar’s line-up (in my opinion).

  50. Your comment about the dancing scene in Wall-E being one of the most beautiful scenes in movie history is spot on! I rank it along with the desert scene in Lawrence of Arabia and the first spotting of Dinosaurs in Jurassic Park as one of the most memorable scenes ever!
    Just the sheer beauty of these scenes is one the reason why we watch movies!
    Great post overall, hopefully we’ll get to see Pixar back in form soon!

    Check out my attempt on appraising animated movies.


    • Thanks. It is stunning, isn’t it. It’s one of the handful of sequences that “sold” me on HD, because it’s just so crisp and perfect.

  51. Love Pixar! I guess I’m not the norm, but Bug’s Life is my favorite – I think it’s a brilliant 7 samarai adaption. I haven’t seen Monsters, Inc. but I will now based on all of the comments.

    • I do need to go back and watch a Bug’s Life. Actually, I would love to organise a Pixar movie marathon.

  52. Call me cynical but of all their properties they could choose to make a sequel they went with the one that was most lucrative from a merchandising standpoint (which also happens to be the least critically successful). Now Brave appears to be a bowing to the pressure of the criticism that they don’t feature heroines.

    I remember Pixar being bulit on the idea of not creating a movie if they don’t have a story but recent direction seems to indicate that they are succumbing to corporate pressure (make money, pander to the masses). It might be a blip of the start of a trend.

    • I suspect it’s a blip. As for the hero/heroine thing – I think that they’ll do great with Brave, regardless of where the idea came from. Whereas with Cars, you’re a lot more curtailed, because merchandising is based around far more concrete terms.

      • I’ll put up with an occasional Cars 2 to get The Incredibles, UP, Toy Story and countless others. And Brave looks quite good despite what their intentions in bringing it onscreen may have been.

      • Yep. Small price to pay.

  53. At least Pixar reminds us all for a brief moment what is like to be a child again. I watched bug’s life with my eight year old the other day and was amazed how it kept my attention. I had a bad experience with Yogi Bear, and loved cars 1 & 2.

    Great post.


  54. Thats too bad. I actually liked the first Cars movie. But I’ll just wait til 2 comes out on DVD.

  55. Honestly, I don’t hold much expectation for Car2. For a child, it might be too complicated; for a adult, it might seem to be too easy. A good movie’s sequel alway makes me worried (may be not including Kill Bill 1,2,3…or The Dark Knight…anyway). It’s a sad thing to lose our feeling for characters that we used to love so much.

    • Yep, I think it’s a numbers game. If 90% of movies are average or worse, then that means 90% of sequels to that 10% of great movies are average or worse. So you’ve got to catch that 10% of a 10% to end up with a good sequel, if you know what I mean. Still, when it does come along, a good sequel is worth it.

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