Why are Pixar movies good | why I love Disney movies
There are very few art forms as effective at getting a point across. Quite like 3D animation. Real life is often boring.
We’ve seen most of what there is to see. There’s little to no room for creativity, given budget limitations and a lack of CGI in animation, you’re confined only to the limits of your own imagination.
You’re able to create visuals and bring to life ideas we typically wouldn’t see elsewhere. At times it can be frustratingly surface level, given the younger your target audience, an abundance of recycled storylines.
But one studio has consistently appealed to every age range. They target the youth, yet are beloved by all.
Their stories are incredibly powerful, turning seemingly small, insignificant moments into lasting memories. I’m talking, of course, about Pixar Animation Studios.
Take this scene from up as an example. You don’t need prior context or to have seen the film to understand what’s going on here. An emotional impact is made using just two single frames.
This isn’t unique among Pixar’s massive catalog of original movies. The impact isn’t isolated within a project or two. They’ve been consistently putting out genre-defining films and cultural juggernauts for decades.
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And their numbers speak for themselves, with an estimated 14 billion in box office earnings since its creation in 1979. But what exactly was the recipe here? What’s caused nearly half a century’s worth of unparalleled success? At the heart of every timeless Pixar film are its characters.
Pixar has a tendency to make flawed and unlikable protagonists. This is hardly a new concept in cinema, but they seem to execute this with near-surgical precision. Woody is patronizing and bossy.
Carl is ill-tempered and dismissive of everyone around him. Miguel is rebellious and naive. This behavior is apparent within the first few minutes of each film, setting a clear starting point for their development.
Each character has a goal they’re attempting to accomplish, one that forces them to directly confront their biggest fears. Woody is scared of being a forgotten toy and must pursue Andy or risk being left behind.
Carl must cling on to his home by any means, the only thing tying him to his lost loved one. Even the seemingly flawless characters have deep-seated issues left unresolved. On the outside, Mr. Incredible seems like your typical Hollywood hero trope, a perfect vessel to push the plot along.
But his biggest flaws don’t come in the form of a destroyed city or a recurring arch-nemesis. He’s deeply insecure about being out of his prime and is constantly trying to achieve some semblance of his former glory.
These attempts come at the cost of his personal life, the neglect of his family, and an absence of intimacy.
He’s more human than we initially realized. Pixar’s characters and their goals are all impressively original.
Very rarely do these stories intersect or are reused outside of the broader themes. They have entire teams dedicated to storyboarding and scripting. The most
talented animators and composers in the industry spare almost no resources and ensure a near-perfect product through a number of test screenings and revisions. It’s in essence, a creative’s dream.
But it’s not just the memorable soundtracks or industry-leading standard of animation. At the core of every Pixar film lies an impactful theme, one that is often painfully relatable. You never feel like you’re watching something targeted toward children.
And while the primary demographic is most certainly younger, there are lessons that extend well into adulthood. Carl habitually alienates those around him. He’s afraid to care again, having lost the love of his life.
There’s a somewhat happy ending here, but it’s hardly resolved. Ellie is still very much gone. He still deals with the grief of her loss, but it’s softened by the friendships he’s made over the course of the film. He’s allowed himself to be vulnerable again, to finally open up. Finding Nemo deals with a similar struggle.
Marlin is deeply afraid of losing his only son, having already lost his wife and a number of their eggs. This overprotectiveness is what initially causes the conflict, as the lack of trust causes Nemo to rebelliously venture off towards the surface and get caught by a fisherman.
In time, Marlin’s adventures would teach him the importance of persistence and trust in others. He must allow Nemo the independence he needs to blossom into a young adult, a struggle most parents know all too well.
These stories are, at their core, human. They’re reflections of us. We’re not expecting to be seen like this, especially given the safety of animation. There’s hardly any risk of self-reflection when most of the themes are watered down.
Pixar films provide a gut punch of realism, appealing to our deepest emotions by tackling issues such as loneliness, insecurity, and the tiresome routine of adulthood. Maybe that’s why we’re so drawn to them. Maybe that’s what makes them so memorable. Children are able to grasp
the themes of these films overall, lessen an already exhausting parental workload, but they become significantly more meaningful once they’re exposed to the realities of growing up.
We aren’t glued to Saturday morning cartoons. Holidays don’t have the same charm that they used to. For a lot of us, these films are an escape from the boredom of getting older. They’re a nostalgia trip we can potentially share with our children, serving as a lesson to them and a reminder to us.