Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Movie on the Mind: Pixar Edition

Welcome to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe: Monday Movie on the Mind. I’ll be kicking off each week with a clip or trailer from a film that happens to be on my mind, designed as a retrospective look at some well-known, forgotten, or underappreciated classic from movie history, be it antique or current. Chime in with your thoughts about the film or any other movies that you might be thinking of this week!

This week’s Monday Movie on the Mind is a special, more general edition. Rather than address today’s national holiday of Memorial Day, I’m inclined to pay tribute to the theme of the high school youth group convention I staffed this past weekend: Pixar. This studio has, since 1995, produced eleven feature films, all of which have been spectacular. I’ve seen all but one (“The Incredibles”), and I have to say that it’s pretty impressive for a studio not to have a dud. Pixar makes for a terrific theme for a convention, that’s for sure, and it’s amazing to me how these movies can be enjoyed just as much by adults as by kids. It’s not an easy feat to balance sensibilities and work in enough relatable humor for adults in a film that’s still just as age-appropriate for young children (sorry, “Small Soldiers.”) This is hardly truer anywhere else than “Toy Story,” the inaugural Pixar film that spawned two wildly successful sequels, and which brilliantly depicted classic children’s toys coming to life. While I’d contend that the first film is still the best, numbers two and three are certainly worth their salt as well. “A Bug’s Life” may be frequently confused with another similar film released the same year, “Antz,” but it’s inarguably a blast. It’s incredible to note that all eight Pixar films released since the inception of the Best Animated Feature Oscar category have earned a nomination. “Monsters Inc.” lost to “Shrek,” but it’s easily one of the most quotable and heartwarming films of its kind. Ditto “Finding Nemo,” which won in 2003. I personally loved “Cars” and can’t comprehend how it lost to the peculiar “Happy Feet,” and I’m looking forward to the sequel, which will be released in less than a month. The last four years, Pixar has dominated with back-to-back instant classics, from “Ratatouille” to “Wall-E” to “Up.” It’s also impressive just how enjoyable and fun the shorts produced by Pixar are, often shown before the theatrical showings of the features and sometimes interrelated with them. “Day & Night” is only the most recent success, and I can remember being delighted in mere minutes by the likes of “Presto,” “Lifted,” “Mike’s New Car,” “Jack Jack Attack,” and others. The short films have earned nine Oscar nominations and three wins all by themselves, and you can enjoy two of them below. Is there anything more reliable than Pixar? I’m not sure. My favorite film is probably “Toy Story,” but the rest are just so wonderful and enjoyable. What’s your favorite Pixar flick?


Greg Boyd said...

I will rank them all:

1. "Finding Nemo" (still the best movie of the 2000s in my book)
2. "The Incredibles"
3. "WALL-E"
4. "Up"
5. "Toy Story 2"
6. "Ratatouille"
7. "Toy Story 3"
8. "Toy Story"
9. "Monsters, Inc."
10. "Cars"
11. "A Bug's Life"

Films 1-7 are all As, 8 and 9 each get an A-, and "Cars" earns a B+. "A Bug's Life" is easily the weakest of them, but it's still a solid B. This is just an astonishing run they're on. It has to end at some point, but I've learned never to bet against them (even if the one promo I've seen for "Cars 2" didn't look very good).

P.S. You need to check out "The Incredibles". It's seriously amazing.

Movies with Abe said...

Interesting order for the Toy Story films. I'd probably put the first first, third second, and second third. I don't remember "A Bug's Life" all that well, but I do remember that I enjoyed it. I'll see "The Incredibles" at some point; it looks like a lot of fun.