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Pixar story rules
June 8, 2012 6:38 AM   Subscribe


 
I think this should be required reading for all fiction writers. That's not to say every story needs to come off as a Pixar story, but there are some definite guidelines and philosophies that I think a writer should, at the very least, be aware of and understand.
posted by Jeff Morris at 6:44 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't much like the idea of 22 rules (the very idea makes you want to write a story that breaks every one of them) but in fact these are not really rules, more things to think about. I think this might be good to have by you when you're in the middle of Nanowrimo and suffering a crisis.
posted by Segundus at 6:48 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd joke that the Dreamworks equivalent is "1. Do the face!" but they've stepped their game up considerably in the last couple of years, also produced zero movies featuring Larry the Cable Guy.
posted by Artw at 6:48 AM on June 8, 2012 [19 favorites]


Interesting list, I'd love to see some of these fleshed out, but it's all good stuff.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:48 AM on June 8, 2012


AKA how to have the audience eating out of your hand right off the bat. I think the strongest testaments to Pixar's storytelling skill are 1. The audience gasping when they think the roach is crushed in Wall-E. I mean, the audience is rooting for a roach, of all things! 2. The narrative set at the beginning of Up that had a lot of the audience pretty much bawling. Both of these are within the first few minutes of the movie. It's amazing how well they rely on the story before the visuals.
posted by azpenguin at 6:49 AM on June 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


It would be interesting to see how they have been applied to Pixar's works.

I like this one.

"#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating."

What is missing is something concerning "Take your project/baby to your peers and get their honest opinions, and LISTEN TO/USE their honest opinions."

It's always seemed that the peer review aspect of the Pixar production process has played a strong role in the development of their stories. To a degree, in some of these rules, you can almost feel as if they arose out of suggestions made at such sessions, like combining characters for example.
posted by Atreides at 6:52 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where were these rules when they were writing Cars 2?
posted by Kabanos at 6:55 AM on June 8, 2012 [16 favorites]


This is really useful for anybody aspiring to good storyteller. Kudos on the excellent link!
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:57 AM on June 8, 2012


Where were these rules when they were writing Cars 2?
Hidden away, in a locked safe, in the Marketing and Licensing department.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:58 AM on June 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


Kabanos: "Where were these rules when they were writing Cars 2?"

Here's the one:
#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
I'm guessing they didn't like Cars. Sadly, accomplishing this step for Cars 2 would have required them to put all of the Disney executives in Solitary Confinement until the movie was released.

Fundamentally, Cars is a fantastically-successful franchise designed to sell merch. It's a flawed model from the start, and completely contrary to "the Pixar way." Unfortunately, now that they're being assimilated into the Disney Borg, they didn't get any say in the matter.

The Disney of the past 20 years has never realized or acknowledged that marketing or pandering are never effective when they're an explicit goal from the get-go.
posted by schmod at 6:59 AM on June 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is all incredibly good advice, actually.

Thanks for the link!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:02 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kabanos: "Where were these rules when they were writing Cars 2?"

Cars 2 was the only Pixar movie that I didn't see in the theatre 'cause it looked pretty bad but finally caught it last month on cable and was amazed at how much worse it was than I had even feared. Fart jokes? Yokel humor? Lame spy spoofs? Sappy and clichéd "stand by your friends" moral?
posted by octothorpe at 7:06 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

Perfect summary of the difference between Up and Toy Story 3. Up existed to deliver the beginning; the first ten minutes were one of the most wrenching, beautiful animated bits ever created. The entire rest of the story was just sort of tacked on after that, didn't make very much sense even by Pixar standards, and did a bunch of telegraphing of What You Should Feel Now. It's literally like watching two different movies, one by Pixar, and one by Dreamworks.

Toy Story 3, on the other hand, was largely filler until the last ten minutes. It existed purely to deliver that last scene. The first part of the movie could have been anything, and, well, it kind of was. It was okay, but it had nothing like the emotional grip of Toy Story 1, and I felt it was awfully scary for younger kids.

If you come up with a great beginning or ending, you also need a great Rest of Movie, and Pixar hasn't been doing that very well of late. The last movie of theirs that was consistently fantastic, start to finish, was probably The Incredibles, a film so tightly plotted that I don't think they wasted one frame. I've actually single-stepped through a number of scenes, just marveling at how much they can pack into a few seconds of animation. I firmly believe they thought about every frame in that movie. Every one.

I'm pretty hopeful about Brave; from what I've seen of the trailers, it looks like Pixar in their full glory. It doesn't look like a vehicle to deliver either the first OR the last ten minutes... it looks like the whole movie matters. I've missed that from them.
posted by Malor at 7:12 AM on June 8, 2012 [17 favorites]


"A list of things missing from wheel of time"
posted by MangyCarface at 7:13 AM on June 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I hate to play apologist, but if I have to ignore a Cars every couple years for its vast rivers of cash to fund sublime and adult (in that nice way) entertainments like Ratatouille and Up, I can hang with that.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:13 AM on June 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


I love Pixar, but actually one of their rules seems to be 'bite off more than you can chew'. I know this is heresy, but I think Toy Story, for example, was technically a failure. Logically the story had to be a tragedy, but the genre did not allow that or any other satisfactory resolution. They keep raising real emotions and then cannot deal with them honestly: the endings just look away from the problem.
posted by Segundus at 7:15 AM on June 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


schmod: The Disney of the past 20 years has never realized or acknowledged that marketing or pandering are never effective when they're an explicit goal from the get-go.

While I agree from an artistic standpoint, Disney has billions of dead Presidents, all telling them that this tactic works, in very convincing voices.
posted by Malor at 7:18 AM on June 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Cars 2 is a G-rated film which includes a scene where a character is tortured to death.

I need no other reason to dislike this film.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:27 AM on June 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is all incredibly good advice, actually.

posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:02 AM on June 8 [+] [!]


Oh sure, you would know.
posted by resurrexit at 7:28 AM on June 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

This is a great one, because while we're fine with saying that obstacles arise just as a part of life, we want the solutions to these obstacles to arise out of a character's progression. It's one of the reasons why it's hard to write satisfying stories where the main character loses: it's easy to find in these stories a failure of narrative structure (i.e. a poorly thought out story, or one that doesn't do what it should) rather a complete character arc.
posted by litleozy at 7:29 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty hopeful about Brave; from what I've seen of the trailers, it looks like Pixar in their full glory.

I'm betting this be the short headline from the first review: Hair Bawl.
posted by hal9k at 7:31 AM on June 8, 2012


Is anyone else here terribly unexcited about Brave? Mind you, I'm not as uninterested as I've been with the Cars series, but it really looks so plain and boring. It just doesn't look anywhere near films such as Monsters Inc, Toy Story 3 (a franchise that just *works*), or especially WALL-E (probably my favorite animated film ever). I'm not saying I want another WALL-E, I just want another film that's as good as WALL-E. Is that too much to demand? Why don't the studio bigwigs ever listen to me? Dammit, make only excellent features, Pixar.

And Up wasn't bad but it was overrated.
posted by item at 7:38 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Disney of the past 20 years has never realized or acknowledged that marketing or pandering are never effective when they're an explicit goal from the get-go.

This! While even their stinkiest work is a mint, it always feels like the more they try to sell something from the word "go," the less it seems to do well (financially, artistically, or in becoming a pop culture treasure).

Compare something that felt very much like the product of focus groups, "The Princess and the Frog," to something that seems to have grown organically, "Phineas and Ferb."
posted by MrGuilt at 7:38 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not the only one who read "polar opposite" as "polar bear," right? Because that would be a really good rule.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:42 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty hopeful about Brave

Maybe it'll be cut from the secret (and more likely than not, dwindling) stash of glory that Pixar keeps hidden in a bunker somewhere deep in the California hills, but the trailers have elicited a fairly ho-hum response from me so far, even the 3-d trailer before the Avengers. I'll see it, though, because it's not Cars 3.
posted by item at 7:43 AM on June 8, 2012


Toy Story 3, on the other hand, was largely filler until the last ten minutes.

Funny, it was my favorite film of 2010. I guess one man's "filler" is another man's "deeply affecting meditation on change, mortality, and death."
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:52 AM on June 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't think Up or TS3 really have any filler at all.

Also I really liked The Princess and the Frog. Big hit in our house.
posted by Artw at 7:56 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sappy and clichéd "stand by your friends" moral?

Cars 2 is actually much worse than that—in the end, the moral is "no matter how destructively self-absorbed your friend is, you should let them do whatever they want and never make them feel bad when their inexcusable behavior causes trouble."

Seriously, if Lightning McQueen had done an AskMe about whether to take Mater to the grand prix, somebody would've said "DO NOT TAKE YOUR MENTALLY ILL FRIEND TO THE GRAND PRIX OUT OF A MISPLACED SENSE OF OBLIGATION. IT WILL END IN EMBARRASSMENT FOR BOTH OF YOU" and then that person would've gotten like a million favorites.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:57 AM on June 8, 2012 [41 favorites]


The moral of Cars 2 is "we should all be like Larry the Cable Guy".

No, we should not.
posted by Artw at 7:58 AM on June 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


item: "Maybe it'll be cut from the secret (and more likely than not, dwindling) stash of glory that Pixar keeps hidden in a bunker somewhere deep in the California hills, but the trailers have elicited a fairly ho-hum response from me so far, even the 3-d trailer before the Avengers. I'll see it, though, because it's not Cars 3."

As a lady, I am EXCITED OUT OF MY MIND to see Brave. It's a movie about a girl! With no love interest! No handsome prince, no dashing thief, no brave captain, nothing! Even the wikipedia description of the movie says "Merida must discover the true meaning of bravery by undoing the spell to save her family and kingdom." BRAVERY! Not love, not friendship, not family. I mean, those things are important, but when was the last time Disney released a movie about a girl who goes on an adventure, without her getting hitched by the end?
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:01 AM on June 8, 2012 [57 favorites]


I think the trailer makes it look a lot worse than it's likely to be because we only see flashes of the whole "magic spell" storyline, and nothing of her trying to undo it, and without that the movie just looks like a generic "spunky tomboyish princess acts rebellious, spunky" plot.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:10 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think most of these are rules that make sense to me. Pixar makes consistently good movies because they pay meticulous, superb attention to the visuals -- not just in the sense of making things that look pretty, but in the sense of capturing small clever moments of action and visual gags, much in the same way that the early seasons of the Simpsons were so great even though the style was much rougher -- but even more than that, because they get basic storytelling stuff right in a way that's actually incredibly rare in movies.

The bird MacGuffin stuff in Up was silly. Like a lot of Doctor Who episodes, it comes on strong with the emotional arc so that you don't notice how silly the MacGuffin is. (If I had to add a rule to these, it would be, Your MacGuffin has to make sense as a stand-alone plot). But the ending really worked for me on the level of emotional symbolism -- the very things that Carl can't bear to part with are literally the things that are holding him down! And because we've seen those ten minutes in the beginning, we understand how utterly heartbreaking it is. But we understand, too, that he needs to let go of this weight.
posted by Jeanne at 8:11 AM on June 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


She's probably right that a writer should know how the story ends, because keeping the climax/resolution in mind will tend to increase the narrative's coherence. Most novelists give this advice. Funny though, Elmore Leonard, whose Ten Rules for Writing are an Internet staple, doesn't how his books are going to end when he begins his books. He's one of those authors who gives his characters such strength and distinctiveness that he trusts them to come up with their own story (a common superstition that works with some writers in freeing up their intuitive powers).
posted by kozad at 8:14 AM on June 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
This is always a good idea. My problem I can always come up with scenes and settings that seem awesome, but I have no idea how to tie it into a conclusion that's as awesome or fitting.
posted by delmoi at 8:17 AM on June 8, 2012


gives his characters such strength and distinctiveness that he trusts them to come up with their own story (a common superstition that works with some writers in freeing up their intuitive powers).

I don't think that's a superstition at all. If you create a sufficiently strong, well-defined character, then there will be constraints on what that character can and can't do, what she will or won't say. Those constraints are in some sense the creation of the author, but some are often unintended implications of other decisions the author made, and the author is not free to ignore them without breaking the character (or going back and re-creating a different character).
posted by straight at 8:29 AM on June 8, 2012


#19 on coincidences is the reason I don't care much for reading fiction. Too many coincidental coincidences.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:29 AM on June 8, 2012


but when was the last time Disney released a movie about a girl who goes on an adventure, without her getting hitched by the end?


...Mulan?
posted by The Whelk at 8:29 AM on June 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


The entire rest of [Up] story was just sort of tacked on after that, didn't make very much sense even by Pixar standards

I think the sequence where Carl tries some cartoon crotchety grandpa wacky violence on the construction worker and is held accountable for it in a real-world way is as powerful as the intro.

And I think the rest of the movie hangs on whether the dogs work for you or not. I thought they were a marvelous creation -- talking dogs that seemed like dogs that talk rather than human beings shaped like dogs -- and so I enjoyed the whole movie very much. But I can understand the person who feels like they are too mismatched with the first part for the movie to cohere.
posted by straight at 8:35 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Several Tinkerbell movies?

Hey! John Lasseter produced them! They totally count!
posted by Artw at 8:35 AM on June 8, 2012


And I think the rest of the movie hangs on whether the dogs work for you or not.

Even Cars living cars didn't test my suspension of disbelief as far-to-the-brink as those dogs did. I had to just tell myself "OK were just gonna go with it" which I really shouldn't have to do.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:41 AM on June 8, 2012


... Mulan?

Lilo and Stich. Greatest Disney film ever.
posted by BeeDo at 8:42 AM on June 8, 2012 [18 favorites]


Oh god yes
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait I don't remember, Triana doesn't end up hitched at the end of the princess and the frog?
posted by The Whelk at 8:44 AM on June 8, 2012


Note that Mulan was almost fifteen years ago.
posted by Malor at 8:45 AM on June 8, 2012


The Whelk: "...Mulan?"
Ends with Handsome General Guy arriving at her house. He proposes a month later.

I'll concede Lilo and Stitch. And also agree that it's amazing.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:45 AM on June 8, 2012


Item: Is anyone else here terribly unexcited about Brave?

I'm the actual opposite, actually. I think what did it for me was the exited archery coach that explained in excruciating detail how they nailed the archery in the trailers. If they are putting that much energy into it, I'm betting that it will be great.
posted by Harald74 at 8:47 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't wait to see Brave

It sort of gives me chills when I see the trailer? But I have a personal reason, so let me share.

I two of my friends from high school, who I still love dearly, were hitched after college and had a baby girl a couple years later. This little girl went through tremendous medical difficulties after she was born and was in the hospital for some nine months before being allowed to go home.

Fast forward three years later: she's a beautiful, vivacious little girl with a shock of the reddest hair you've ever seen.

So her mom tells me that when her daughter first saw the poster for Brave she YELPED and kept saying, "THAT'S ME THAT'S ME! THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT ME!"

Makes me a little misty eyed just typing it...
posted by Tevin at 9:00 AM on June 8, 2012 [18 favorites]


Wow, those are really good IMHO.

(And I think Brave looks awesome. I'm currently on the outs with feminism, but the core ideas and sentiments still move me powerfully. Like you, Tevin, I got kinda misty at just the trailer. And I'm a dude and all...)
posted by Fists O'Fury at 9:08 AM on June 8, 2012


I haven't seen many trailers for Brave, so if there are newer ones than the two I saw, I wouldn't know about it.

I remember watching an American trailer. it was just the scene of some archery competition, with Merida jumping out to show all the guys how things are really done. (Yeah, ok, so that's kinda neat, but whatevs.)

And then I saw the Japanese trailer. WHOAMG IS THIS A DIFFERENT MOVIE?
posted by subversiveasset at 9:08 AM on June 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


Elmore Leonard, whose Ten Rules for Writing are an Internet staple, doesn't how his books are going to end when he begins his books. He's one of those authors who gives his characters such strength and distinctiveness that he trusts them to come up with their own story (a common superstition that works with some writers in freeing up their intuitive powers).

The more complete version of this is, Leonard refers to the first hundred pages of his books as the audition phase. Various characters, themes, situations introduce themselves, show what they've got, and finally, he makes his decisions, he knows where he's going with it all for the next two hundred pages. And that includes having an ending. Though as the last few words of GET SHORTY make clear, for Leonard endings are always the hardest part.
posted by philip-random at 9:12 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a little apprehensive about Brave, because the trailer with the "fun daddy" vs "mother who cares about appropriate displays of femininity" is not ideal, but I am still planning to see it in the theatre, which is the first in a long time for me and Pixar (I eventually see them on DVD).

Lilo & Stitch -- which is awesome -- does have Nani end with a relationship, Lilo being too young to have one.
posted by jeather at 9:20 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Toy Story 3, on the other hand, was largely filler until the last ten minutes. It existed purely to deliver that last scene.

There's a scene in Toy Story 3 where all the heroes are about to be turned into molten sludge, they begin to accept that nothing is going to save them, and they silently hold hands and resolutely stare at their friends for a minute of wrenching existential torment. That's not filler...
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:44 AM on June 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Eh. I found that scene profoundly unaffecting because you KNEW something was going to come out of nowhere to save their plastic butts, whether or not it made any sense, and lo and behold, it did come out of nowhere and it didn't make sense. It provides the same sort of vague shadow of something like suspense you get from a scene in, say, Iron Man 2 where it looks like Tony might die of Plot Poisoning except the chance that they'll kill off their franchise hero are slightly lower than nothing whatsoever, so you just sit around and wait for the deus ex machina.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


EMRJKC, I think that’s the same scene.

Aliens with a crane, though? Near-literal deus ex machina.
posted by migurski at 10:07 AM on June 8, 2012


#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

There is a real risk in this. As you write, the story starts generating its own rules, and sometimes those rules lead to an ending you didn't anticipate. If you are hell-bound-for-leather to get to the ending you scripted, that you know will work, and is the ending you really, really want, you start forcing the story toward that ending, and it feels artificial.

Worse still, it starts feeling inevitable, which strips all the drama out of a piece. The narrative decisions leading to the conclusion become visible, because they are being wedged into the story.

I prefer it when a writer follows where the story is going, and lets it surprise them. Then there is a good chance it will surprise the audience as well.

Mind you, I love me some Pixar. But it exists in a charitable world, in which everything will necessarily work out for the best, and the only question is how. And so you end up with a lovely film like Wall-E in which helpless blobs of humanity land on a ruined planet and transform it through ... I dunno. Good will?

But, then, in my version, which is the one I think the story dictates, Wall-E would have spent the last 20 minutes digging millions of graves. So it goes with popular arts. Sometimes you can't write the ending the story dictates.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:11 AM on June 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


But, then, in my version, which is the one I think the story dictates, Wall-E would have spent the last 20 minutes digging millions of graves.

Nah, he'd crush the bodies into cubes and stack them - it's what he's programmed for.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on June 8, 2012 [20 favorites]


Lately, when it comes to movies, I find myself looking to see how much of its content is driven by the need to tell a story, and the need to stick to a marketing formula. Quite often all I have to work on are previews and plot synopses, and while most of the time I can be assured I haven't missed out on anything, there are occasions where I will need to rely on a studio or a director's resumé.

Pixar and Ghibli are such studios, and Brad Bird and Joss Whedon are such director/writers, for which I will likely watch a film in the theater or make a concerted effort to purchase their material. I've been burned in the past, but more often than not their products do impress or entertain me, so Brave is going to get a lot more consideration than the multitude of cruft that's being released.

Sometimes even cliché plot devices or formulaic storylines are okay, when they make sense. If Brave has a "fun daddy" vs "feminine mommy," does it make sense for the film? Do these characters influence our heroine in such a way that it makes sense for her to have grown up the way she did? Does the conflict make sense in what causes her to act the way she acts?

That's what I think makes a great story, or a great movie. Rules #15, #16, and #19 come close to describing the need to just make sense. To me that should have been #1, but I can see that there's no real order or hierarchy to the list.

FWIW, I fist-pumped when Wall-E ran over the cockroach. And audibly sighed when it popped back up. Talk about a mood whiplash, "YES! Aw, dang it..."
posted by CancerMan at 10:19 AM on June 8, 2012


Eh. I found that scene profoundly unaffecting because you KNEW something was going to come out of nowhere to save their plastic butts, whether or not it made any sense, and lo and behold, it did come out of nowhere and it didn't make sense.

I wasn't captivated by the film (it seemed just a repetition of the messages of TS2), but that scene... I remember thinking that those crazy Pixar bastards might just go through with it. It would have been a bold, bold choice, and one that was keeping with the themes of the movie.

I was actually disappointed when they got saved.
posted by Jonathan Harford at 10:19 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was actually disappointed when they got saved.

I always thought LAW + ORDER (the original) had the right basic formula. More often than not (say, seven times out of eight) the "good guys" (ie: the LAW) nail their man, but every now and then, they don't. Which serves to keep you hanging, and believing in the believability of things.

So I'm moving that it should be written into LAW somewhere (maybe get it into the constitution), that a certain smallish percentage of children's stories (slightly more than 10 percent) must end badly, tragically. Because otherwise we just keep setting up our cute + cuddly young ones for a world that does not exist (the dependable happy ending), which is itself tragic.

As for legislating unhappy adult endings, I can see that working too (ie: a certain small percentage of porn films must end without a satisfying cumshot ... and so on).
posted by philip-random at 10:36 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


because the trailer with the "fun daddy" vs "mother who cares about appropriate displays of femininity" is not ideal

To be fair, I think "fun mommy" vs "daddy who cares about appropriate displays of femininity" would be way, way worse.
posted by Amanojaku at 10:37 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


23. Wear sun-screen.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2012


Brave has lots of potential. I wasn't blown away by the first trailer, but everything from it looks pretty great. While I'm sort of over the trope of "woman with a weapon = better than a woman without a weapon", the wizards at Pixar are much too smart to have it only be about her being awesome at archery. It's a story with a lot of potential.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:50 AM on June 8, 2012


Aliens with a crane, though? Near-literal deus ex machina.

Alternatively: a neat callback to, and inversion of, the previous movies. ("The Claw!" "You saved our lives!")

The trailer for Brave makes it look very Dreamworksey -- especially the kilt joke -- and very much cut from the same cloth as How To Train Your Dragon.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:52 AM on June 8, 2012


Lilo & Stitch -- which is awesome -- does have Nani end with a relationship, Lilo being too young to have one.

Certainly true. But it felt real, rather than a "all your problems are solved because now you have a man". So it doesn't seem cut from the standard Disney cloth.

I mean, he's kind of a bum.
posted by BeeDo at 11:00 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


As someone who loved Mulan and How to Train Your Dragon (which, I know, is Dreamworks, but had a bad ass girl and Scottish/Viking themes), I can't tell you how excited I am to see Brave. That's what I'm doing for my birthday, is going to an actual theatre to see it.

I hated Cars, you couldn't pay me to see Cars 2, and Wall E and Up both bored me to sleep. What can say, I'm female. I get bored by the non-stop parade of male characters and their creators' cultural hegemony.

My daughter has loved horses since forever. Pre-verbal. She's six now, been riding since she was three, and displays an astonishing lack of fear around all large animals, but horses in particular. We went out to pick up milk last week (new farm, first visit) and within 30 seconds, she and our farmer's 11 year old daughter were bareback on their enormous Belgian/Thoroughbred cross, galloping away. I literally could not have stopped her if I tried. It still makes my chest tighten, every time I see her steering a half-ton of hoofed animal, but I try hard to hide my fear. She's only fallen off once, and she landed on her feet. When they came back, she told me calmly that her butt slipped to the left, but that she grabbed the mane and squeezed harder. "Her back is slippery, but my legs are strong," she told me, "so I wasn't afraid. I can take care of myself."

This is the same kid who requests shots at the doctor's office, because she doesn't even flinch. She's showing off, she loves being the hard ass that they all fuss over, which they always do, telling her how brave she is.

She also has been watching YouTube tutorials all week, and has (with daddy's help), fashioned herself a bow out of PVC pipe, 1/4" plumbing supply line, and electrical tape. They're working on arrows today. I'm stuffing a burlap sack with plastic grocery bags for a target.

My daughter is just a normal little girl. She has a host of Disney Princess merch. She loves to draw. She does her nails two or three times a week. Most girls aren't super girly all the time. They have interests other than looking pretty. Even if this movie sucks, I love that they are marketing it in such a way that's atypical and yet more reflective of the reality that I know.
posted by Athene at 11:05 AM on June 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


Alternatively: a neat callback to, and inversion of, the previous movies. ("The Claw!" "You saved our lives!")

Or both. Just because it's amusing and calls back to an old joke doesn't mean it fits into the plot.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:06 AM on June 8, 2012


So I'm moving that it should be written into LAW somewhere (maybe get it into the constitution), that a certain smallish percentage of children's stories (slightly more than 10 percent) must end badly, tragically.

I wouldn't go that far. Sometimes a tiny subversion of expectations is all that it takes to teach children a very important lesson about the Real World.
"Who gets Humperdinck?"
"I don't understand."
"Who kills Prince Humperdinck? At the end, somebody's got to do it! Is it Inigo? Who?"
"Nobody. Nobody kills him. He lives."
"You mean he wins? Jesus, grand-pa, why did you read me this thing for?"
"You know, you've been very sick, and you're taking this story very seriously. I think we'd better stop now."
"No, I'm ok. I'm ok. Sit down. I'm all right."
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:07 AM on June 8, 2012 [16 favorites]


To be fair, I think "fun mommy" vs "daddy who cares about appropriate displays of femininity" would be way, way worse.

If "fun mommy" is not also "crazy mommy who cannot function in the world", I'm not sure it would be. But the plot of "it is women alone who force sexism on their daughters" is problematic. On the other hand, I am massively extrapolating from a few minutes of trailer. On the gripping hand, it's not like Pixar is known for its sensitive characterisation of women. I guess I'll see in a few weeks.

Certainly true. But it felt real, rather than a "all your problems are solved because now you have a man". So it doesn't seem cut from the standard Disney cloth.

Oh, I agree. It feels real, I love the movie. But in a lot of ways, it's similar to Mulan (the relationship thing was fairly organic, a subpart of the ending not the entire goal of the movie), and -- well, mostly it sucks that those are the only two where it's true, and they're so old. Also I want to rewatch Lilo & Stitch.
posted by jeather at 11:08 AM on June 8, 2012


when was the last time Disney released a movie about a girl who goes on an adventure, without her getting hitched by the end?

Eh. I don't think any Disney heroine is as motivated by or willing to sacrifice for love as Hercules, or even Aladdin. Also, I really loved the romantic plots and subplots of Disney movies as a little girl, and still do actually, and it irritates me that they are seen as flaws in the films and that romance in general is so widely seen as self-evidently false and inferior story material, even though there are people doing terrible things, amazing things, and just lots of things in general for love wherever you look. I don't know what it comes down to except the way that anything girls (stereotypically) find particularly thrilling can never actually be important or good.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:11 AM on June 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


I don't think any Disney heroine is as motivated by or willing to sacrifice for love as Hercules, or even Aladdin.

Well, on reflection, I would put The Little Mermaid ahead of Aladdin, but still behind Hercules.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:12 AM on June 8, 2012


Lists of pointers for writers almost always make me roll my eyes.

The pointers are either too abstract:

6. Write for love.

Or too general:

3. Be unique.

Or only work for some people:

2. Don't edit until the first draft is complete.

Or too obvious:

3. Write what you know.

Or clichéd:

8. Show, don't tell.

Or unhelpful for most people:

1. Rule number one is to never worry about the rules.

But I'm happy to say that my eyes stayed firmly in place for these Pixar rules, which provide new and useful approaches to writing improvement.
posted by jeremy b at 11:24 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So what happened to John Carter? Surely Andrew Stanton knew all Pixar's storytelling dope. I'm sure the rules don't just apply to toons.
posted by jfuller at 11:29 AM on June 8, 2012


Also, I really loved the romantic plots and subplots of Disney movies as a little girl, and still do actually, and it irritates me that they are seen as flaws in the films and that romance in general is so widely seen as self-evidently false and inferior story material, even though there are people doing terrible things, amazing things, and just lots of things in general for love wherever you look.

The flaw isn't that any one film has a romantic plot. Romantic plots can be great plots. The flaw is that every single Disney princess film has a romantic plot.
posted by jeather at 11:35 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what happened to John Carter? Surely Andrew Stanton knew all Pixar's storytelling dope. I'm sure the rules don't just apply to toons.

I've not seen the thing, but I'm guessing that 90% of it's problems lie outside of the actual movie.
posted by Artw at 11:37 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]




two or three cars parked under the stars: "Also, I really loved the romantic plots and subplots of Disney movies as a little girl, and still do actually, and it irritates me that they are seen as flaws in the films and that romance in general is so widely seen as self-evidently false and inferior story material, even though there are people doing terrible things, amazing things, and just lots of things in general for love wherever you look."

I completely agree. Heck, I love almost all the Disney Princess movies, even the ones where the girl is practically a macguffin *cough*sleeping beauty*cough*. My complaint isn't that Disney movies for girls have romance and princesses and handsome guys. It's that for decades, that's been the only option. It's okay to like pretty things and painting nails and fancy balls, and if you're a little girl who likes those things, there are plenty of movies for you. Plenty of role models, plenty of characters for you to dress up as.

But if you're the type of girl who likes to climb trees and run barefoot and get into trouble, and you're too busy having adventures to worry about losing slippers or dancing with birds, then hardly anything that Disney offers will apply to you. If you're a girl who wants to look up to a Disney character who's AWESOME instead of BEAUTIFUL, then you've only got 2 or 3 options.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:41 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]



Why the press went easy on Battleship and killed John Carter

From that article:

Hollywood hates creatives.

That may sound like an oxymoron or counterintuitive, but it's the fundamental basis of much of this business. Hollywood is run by money men in suits, and these guys often hate the unpredictable, sometimes uncontrollable, creative types who are necessary to keep the industry going. The suits want product, but they haven't figured out a way to cut the human element - writers, directors, FILMMAKERS - out of the process of creating that product.

I always suspect that it's jealousy, that the lowliest screenwriter can do things that the president of a studio can't - come up with new worlds, bring characters to life, share imagination. It's probably also just a simple irritation at the fact that creatives have demands and they fight against the wisdom of marketing and they try to make good movies instead of saleable movies.


Which puts Pixar where exactly? A few hundred miles north of Hollywood.
posted by philip-random at 11:51 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've not seen the thing, but I'm guessing that 90% of it's problems lie outside of the actual movie. - Artw (with right answer on J.C.)

As for Lilo and Stitch, off the top of my head, I don't believe it should fall into the category at all. Nani was already in the relationship. It was an extension or continuation of a pre-existing element of the character.

The only thing that has me worried about Brave was the change midway through production of the director position. From what I've gleamed, and not a lot of it has been aired to the public, was that there was a major disagreement on certain focuses in the movie. The guy who took over I'd expect will deliver a very precise/perfect representation of the world of Brave (he's a Scotland and weapon/armor fanatic), I just don't know how well he will deliver on the story and characters. It will really offer up a prime example of how much of a Pixar product is the director or the studio (who follows the rules the most?).
posted by Atreides at 11:53 AM on June 8, 2012


Is anyone else here terribly unexcited about Brave?

I have a strong feeling it's going to get the old "movies about chicks are inherently less good than movies that aren't about chicks" treatment. It could be better than Wall-E, but people will see it as less than simply because it has a female protagonist/"is for girls". Brave would have to be Citizen Kane to be considered "another Wall-E".
posted by Sara C. at 11:57 AM on June 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


As for Lilo and Stitch, off the top of my head, I don't believe it should fall into the category at all. Nani was already in the relationship. It was an extension or continuation of a pre-existing element of the character.

I can actually correct this as I recently bought my daughter Lilo and Stitch, and have seen it several times in the past two weeks -- rediscovering just how fun of a movie it is (and how fantastic the design is). Nani is not dating David — she doesn't have the time, what with the problems with Lilo and the man from Child Protection Services. When David asks Nani to date him she says she's too busy and maybe later.
posted by papercake at 12:00 PM on June 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


> Brave would have to be Citizen Kane to be considered "another Wall-E".

If they would give me a Red Sonja that was objectively as good as the first Conan I would fall all over myself loving it.
posted by jfuller at 12:04 PM on June 8, 2012


So what happened to John Carter? Surely Andrew Stanton knew all Pixar's storytelling dope. I'm sure the rules don't just apply to toons.

Andrew Stantn said in some interviews, he essentially had some issues which are a lot easier to correct when all of your actors, props and sets are virtual. There were times where he came up with better ideas, but there wasn't the budget for re-shoots, so he essentially had to make do with what he shot. He may be able to fudge a bit in post-production with CGI, but not to the degree you can at Pixar where you can tear it all down and start over if it isn't working.
posted by Badgermann at 12:21 PM on June 8, 2012


Did you see John Carter?

It was no WALL-E but it was a damn fun movie. My wife and I had both had a blast with it. The movie worked, overall, because it had the right tone. It was never too self-serious, but it wasn't a joke.

It delivered exactly what I want in a ridiculous, sci-fi action-adventure movie.
posted by Tevin at 12:25 PM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


John Carter suffered from a problem Stanton couldn't addressed: It's the ur-text of most modern science fuction. Everything about it has been so thoroughly picked over that the whole film felt unsurprising and cliched, when, in fact, when it was created, they were monumental.

Stanton's problem is that he loves John Carter, and gave us John Carter. Our problem is that we have already seen that film a million times.

Sort of. His Mars looked unlike anything ever put on film before. It really is a smashing film to look at.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:30 PM on June 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


I wasn't captivated by the film (it seemed just a repetition of the messages of TS2), but that scene... I remember thinking that those crazy Pixar bastards might just go through with it. It would have been a bold, bold choice, and one that was keeping with the themes of the movie.

I actually thought for a moment that the toys would be melted down and would somehow end up as tires or some other part on Andy's car.
posted by sprezzy at 12:35 PM on June 8, 2012


I actually thought for a moment that the toys would be melted down

Me too. The thing is, even the slightest bit of meta-textual contemplation will reveal that of course the entire cast of Toy Story isn't going to get burned in an incinerator, which is what someone upthread was complaining about. But that moment is effective because they so thoroughly sell the idea that the characters now believe they're going to die.
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:55 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best thing about The Incredibles is that it spawned Jack-Jack Attack, perhaps the funniest thing they've ever done.

OK, it's a tie between that and Lifted: the short before Ratatouille about the alien trying to control the levitation beam while using the Worst Interface Ever.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:23 PM on June 8, 2012


But that moment is effective because they so thoroughly sell the idea that the characters now believe they're going to die.

The second Woody stopped struggling was when I thought, "Oh god, they couldn't possibly..."

Regarding Brave, I've come to expect being underwhelmed by Pixar's previews and then being completely blown away by the movie itself. They're good at making teaser trailers that seem to show you what the movie's about while actually keeping the best parts a secret.
posted by lekvar at 1:55 PM on June 8, 2012


1. Exposition is absolutely not allowed, unless you (a) are completely upfront about it (e.g. the text crawl at the beginning of "Star Wars") or (b) make it so natural to the characters that no one will think of it as exposition. For instance, few brothers actually call themselves "brother," so you're not allowed to have a character say "Well, my brother, we'll have come up with a plan." No one talks that way, so it's unavailable to you as a means for explaining how the characters are related.

Be careful when introducing the New Guy as a way of "hiding" exposition: "Since you've just joined the crew, you probably don't know our mission is to get to Alpha Centauri and search for wormholes." Even if someone WOULD say that to a new guy, the audience will still smell exposition. They will sees it for the cheap trick it is. The new guy needs to have a real stake in the story, and he needs to find things out by accident -- or in an attempt to achieve a goal. (See point six, below.)

When dealing with exposition, make a list of everything the audience absolutely has to know, and then try including anything from the list. (You may be surprised that you don't need some of it.) Then, go back over the draft and see where you can sprinkle in the must-know details naturally. Don't just try to front-load all of them, unless you want to do the "Star Wars" crawl, which at least is honest.

By the way, you can break this rule and get away with it. Most people (collaborators, critics, etc.) will allow you little lapses here and there. I won't. I want you to know that if you try to sneak even one piece of bullshit exposition in your story -- even if the audience HAS to know it -- I will hunt you down and kill you. Keep that in mind. I can spot exposition a mile away. Hide yours so well that even I can't find it. It's your best chance of survival!

2. You have five pages (or one scene -- the first one) to set up all your conventions. The default convention is this: a 3rd-person story in which the fourth wall is never broken and there are no supernatural events. If you're going to violate any part of that default, do it immediately. Or at least hint that you're going to do it.

If you're going to get inside character's heads, do it at least once in the first scene. If there are going to be absurd coincidences, establish that immediately. If you're going to spring a po-mo device on me, such as having a character directly address the reader or know that he's a character in a novel, clue me in on page one. If ghosts exist in your story, I need to know about it right away -- or at least I need to see something that opens up that possibility for me. (See the opening of Kubrick's "The Shining.")

You are not allowed to introduce formal devices after the first scene. You are not allowed to introduce the supernatural after the first scene. Doing either is jarring. It causes the reader to rethink all of his assumptions about your story world after he thinks he knows what they are, which is like being handed what you think is a peanut-butter sandwich and then tasting brussels sprouts in it -- after the fifth bite. When that happens to an audience member, he's suddenly going to start thinking about you. ("Why did he stick brussels sprouts in here?") Which means he's going to be taken out of your story.

3. A story can end with a punchline or a haunting but not both. Punchline stories (which aren't necessarily funny) are totally wrapped up at the end ("They lived happily ever after."), while haunting stories aren't: "He came to a fork in the road. He know that at the end of one path was a big pot of money. At the end of the other was the most beautiful girl in the kingdom. He stood between the two paths, undecided. Then he chose a path, walking down it, putting one foot in front of the other, getting ever closer to one goal, leaving the other far behind. The end."

Both story types are respectable, but you can't have your cake and eat it, too. So please don't do this: "Sir Knight gathered the last of his strength and lunged towards the beast, sticking his dagger deeply into its heart. The beast let out a great howl and stumbled around, clutching at its chest. Then it fell over, dead. The villagers hoisted Sir Knight on their shoulders and carried him about the town, shouting and singing out, 'The monster is dead! The monster is dead!' They knew they were safe at last. The end. Or is it? Deep in the monster's cave, down in the bottom of his nest, a single egg started to crack..."

4. Humans are sensual creatures. If we can't see it, hear it, taste it, touch it, or smell it, it means nothing to us. Everything must be rooted in the sensual, especially anything abstract. If you can't concretize abstractions with nuts-and-bolts examples, you need to tie them to sensual data with metaphors: "He was frightened as a child locked in a dark closet."

5. Every medium is unable to directly convey certain types of sensory data. For instance, a radio play can't display an image; a novel can't emit a smell; a movie can't be tactile; etc. Those lacks are great advantages. The most powerful line in a radio play has nothing to do with sound. It's, "Oh my God! Look at the size of that ship!" It's powerful because it guides the listener to fill in the blanks. It compels the listener to co-create the world with the storyteller, and once the listener is doing that, he's part of the world. In film, in addition to touch and smell, the missing data -- and the most useful data -- is what happens between the cuts.

6. Learn from Stanislavsky, the great Russian acting theorist: each character has a goal (which he doesn't necessarily have to know about consciously). That goal must be specific, such as "to earn enough money to save the ranch" or "to get back to Kansas." It can never be vague, e.g. "the be happy." In fact, stay away from "to be." Characters want to get things, escape from things, destroy things, etc.

Everything a character does or says must be and attempt to attain his goal, though there's an exception to that which I'll explain in a moment. Drama comes from two characters with opposing goals. As a character works towards his goal, he's hit with two kinds of obstacles, internal and external. If his gaol is to climb Mount Everest, an external obstacle is the lack of oxygen at the top; an internal obstacle is his fear of heights.

The only time a character strays from his goal is when he's playing out an internal obstacle. So he's either going to start climbing the mountain (goal) or he's going to procrastinate, sitting in his tent, drinking whiskey (internal obstacle). If he obtains his goal, his story is over -- unless he gets a new goal. If he permanently loses his goal (e.g. becomes paralyzed from the waist down, so his dreams of climbing Everest are doomed), his story is over -- unless he gets a new goal. As long as he's in the story, he must have a goal.

Goals can be huge or small -- a goal for one scene could be to find a bathroom. But the stakes must be high ("I'll pee in my pants if I don't!"), and the character must believe he has a chance of winning. A character can have both a story-long goal ("Get to Mordor") and smaller, scene-length (or half-scene-length) goals ("Escape the giant spider!").

For more information about Stanislavsky theory, read the short and invaluable book "A Practical Handbook for the Actor," which is great for writers, too.

7. Real people rarely talk intelligently about psychology, especially their own. And when they do, they are usually wrong. It's generally only interesting to hear a character explain his motives when he's totally misunderstood himself. And even then, it's usually boring.

8. Show, don't tell. Yes, I know you've heard that rule a million times before, but really, really follow it. For real! And you're not allowed to follow it until you get to the final scene. You have to follow it all the way to the end. Which means that if your hero leans something from his journey, we'll have to somehow learn about it through his actions. He can't tell us what he's learned.

9. Theme must work itself out through action. Characters can not speak thematic statements, unless you're 100% sure they'd make these statements naturally, in an attempt to obtain their goals. (See point six, above.) If YOUR goal, as a writer, is to explain to the audience that slavery is evil, then write an essay. And your goal can't be both to explain that slavery is evil AND to tell an exciting story, because that's two goals. And with two goals, you always get one diluting the other. If it's realistic for a character to do X to meet his goals, but you need him to do Y to make your thematic point, you'll have no way of breaking the tie if your have two purposes in telling the story. So if you insist on theme, it must take a back seat to character action and plot points. If it jumps into the front seat, maybe you should be writing non-fiction or making a documentary. Fiction is never a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down. If you think it is, you're wrong. Fiction is not your bitch!

10. Don't inject humor. In fact, don't inject anything. People get all worked up about "gratuitous sex and violence," but gratuitous jokes are just as bad. As are gratuitous descriptions, gratuitous musings, etc. Everything in the story must move the story forward. "Moving the story forward" doesn't necessarily mean moving from one plot point to the next, though it can mean that. It can also mean a character does something to obtain a goal or responds to an obstacle. It could even mean a little aside, to make some aspect of what's going on more sensual to the viewer, such as a close up of dirt under the farmer's fingernails. But if it's not conveying sensual data (relevant to the scene at hand), allowing a character to play out his goals, or pushing the plot forward, chuck it. And even if a joke can do one of those things (which it sometimes can), don't insert the joke unless it's funny. Tell it to five people who don't know you. If they laugh, you can keep the joke. If they don't, you can't.
posted by grumblebee at 2:46 PM on June 8, 2012 [68 favorites]


Eh. I found that scene profoundly unaffecting because you KNEW something was going to come out of nowhere to save their plastic butts, whether or not it made any sense, and lo and behold, it did come out of nowhere and it didn't make sense.

I submit that this has nothing to do with what makes that a good scene. It's not good because the viewer believes the characters are going to die. It's good because the viewer believes the characters think they're going to die. It's the characters' response to the situation that's powerful. The situation itself ("Characters I like are in mortal danger!") couldn't be more ordinary.

Having the characters actually die wouldn't add a single thing to the power of that scene. There's no reason at all not to have both the great moment and the silly claw joke as well. And it is a good joke.
posted by straight at 3:11 PM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The thing that was powerful about the scene for me was that the characters accepted that they were going to die.
posted by Grangousier at 3:31 PM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The room got very dusty at that point.
posted by Artw at 4:10 PM on June 8, 2012


23. If Show, Don't Tell results in a musical montage backdropped by the feelgood track of the summer, feel free to Don't Show, Don't Tell.
posted by elphTeq at 4:17 PM on June 8, 2012


Brave looks bad. The only coherent part of the previews is that she seems to reject some suitors, which I guess is what passes for "princess tough", but... how can I say this? It looks like a DreamWorks story. I'll go see it because I have faith in Pixar, but I really hope the preview doesn't do it justice.
posted by fleacircus at 5:37 PM on June 8, 2012


Stanton's problem is that he loves John Carter, and gave us John Carter. Our problem is that we have already seen that film a million times.

You're right, but I think a lot of the execution itself was so awkward and cliche that it wouldn't have been a good movie in any case. It has about four beginnings. It's full of dumb movie moments like (a) Tim Riggins leaves town on a horse way ahead of everyone else, sort of implying he is going to get away; cut immediately to Tim Riggins racing across desert, pursuers fanned out 12 feet behind him, and (b) they foiled McNutty's evil plot, but the shape-shifting mastermind assassin got away? Whatever, time to completely relax.
posted by fleacircus at 6:08 PM on June 8, 2012


Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

PROFIT
posted by the noob at 7:11 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was a really interesting interview of Steve Jobs and John Lasseter by Charlie Rose in 1996, just after Jobs became CEO of Pixar, where Jobs says that he was drawn to Pixar for the technology but that he realized that "what we are really about is storytelling". (Start watching toward the end, around 21 minutes in.)

I've wondered whether Jobs later success had something to do with that realization, that it isn't about the technology, it's about the story you tell.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:05 PM on June 8, 2012


I haven't even seen Cars and I hate Cars. I am annoyed that they ripped up a third of California Adventure to make Cars-Land. Who the hell liked it THAT MUCH? Also, why does Larry the Cable Guy have a career at all?

Yup, had to rant there.

I have hopes for Brave. Hey, at least for once a girl is featured as more than the sidekick.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:14 PM on June 8, 2012


Sorta spoilers, though this is like spoiling Cinderella.


Eh, about people talking about the lack of love interest- I believe in the fairy tales this is based off, the bear is a prince. There's a couple of Scottish stories, one of which is also "Billy's Black Bull" (with a bull rather than a bear and a male hero) about female rescuing male, Tam Lin, getting a man back from the faery queen, and a folk tale about a young lady who gets the aid of a magic bear who also provides a hot high status dude after she completes a bunch of tasks.

Note the Japanese trailer's reference to a prince who made a terrible mistake meddling with magic. Sorry guys, the only way we're getting out of her getting a boyfriend is if her breaking the curse on the great bear results in the trapped but old prince instantly being freed to an afterlife.
posted by Phalene at 8:36 PM on June 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Who the hell liked it THAT MUCH?

Based on my extensive sample (one), four- to six-year-old boys. They can like movies so much that they watch the same one over and over every single day, and then be amazingly attracted to the products advertised by that movie.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:39 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kids fucking love Cars. In 10 years, there are going to be a wave of MeFites who don't understand what's wrong with us old cranks who didn't like that movie. Go ahead and mark this comment, and you can come back and point it out when they show up.

Also, Pixar people love Cars, and genuinely don't understand why it was received badly. A lot of them are classic car freaks, and fans of Route 66, and the film is like a love letter to both.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:31 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh. The one Pixar person i know personally thinks Cars is a plate of crap and can't stand it, FWIW. Though Cars 2 apparently came as much from John Lasseter's desire to do a completly ray traced movie as the desire to give Disney a huge merch engine, which is something they do with full awareness.
posted by Artw at 9:46 PM on June 8, 2012


All I know is that the next three movies that are coming out of DreamWorks are gonna be super freaking bad.

Disney's Wreck It Ralph looks freaking AWESOME, though.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:19 PM on June 8, 2012


Yep, Wreck-It Ralph looks great. It's a video game version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

Trailer.
posted by painquale at 11:18 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have small children, and I have seen cars about 129 times. It grew on me. But I think the important thing to realise is that it's not really for my demographic - a 46 year old overweight male.
posted by the noob at 12:39 AM on June 9, 2012


Disney's Wreck It Ralph looks freaking AWESOME, though.

I watched the trailer for that cold yesterday and thought 'is this a spoof of a Pixar movie? it looks terrible' but then I'm probably not enough of a video games nerd, only getting half of the references.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:04 AM on June 9, 2012


Oh man Wreck It Ralph looks like the end result of a very long and very exact marketing equation. IP is expensive so I'm guessing this movie was calculated within an inch of its life.
posted by The Whelk at 7:21 AM on June 9, 2012


Glad to see the John Carter love in here. I loved it, too--thought it was wicked fun, even if it suffered from Brooks/Tolkien syndrome (when I was 12 I loved Terry Brooks. Read Tolkien a few years later and, lacking historical perspective, thought it felt SO tired.)

Also Wall-E isn't a movie about dudes because Eve is incredibly awesome and the prime plot mover.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:49 AM on June 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


also robots don't have gender c'mon people.
posted by The Whelk at 10:50 AM on June 9, 2012


Steve Austin had a gender and he was part-robot. And, since his legs had to be completely replaced, I have always assumed his man bits were among the replacement parts.

Has nobody ever made that porn film? What's wrong with this world?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:54 PM on June 9, 2012


Cyborg not robot.
posted by The Whelk at 4:16 PM on June 9, 2012


What about uploaded AI simulations of people, I suppose you'll say they can't have genders either? Tsk.
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on June 9, 2012


Also you want Alex James Murphy not Steve Austin and the name of the pr0n would be Robocock.

Without looking or having looked previously I am 98% sure this exists.
posted by Artw at 4:19 PM on June 9, 2012


Hey now the only problem with AIs is that they always turn evil.
posted by The Whelk at 4:29 PM on June 9, 2012


Sexy evil.
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on June 9, 2012


Sexy evil law mower men.
posted by The Whelk at 4:41 PM on June 9, 2012


Lawn, a law mower is a type of legal hitman
posted by The Whelk at 4:41 PM on June 9, 2012


Is that CGI bad, or is it baaaaaaad?
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on June 9, 2012


That's a very naughty low quality texture you've got there.
posted by The Whelk at 4:51 PM on June 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's fractals. Or maybe circuitboards. Why don't you squint at my pixelation and try to tell?
posted by Artw at 5:40 PM on June 9, 2012


Yep, Wreck-It Ralph looks great. It's a video game version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

I've seen this said in a few places. How is an animated character going from one animated environment to another animated environment like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Also, it looks terrible.

Oh man Wreck It Ralph looks like the end result of a very long and very exact marketing equation.

THIS.
posted by crossoverman at 2:23 AM on June 10, 2012


How is an animated character going from one animated environment to another animated environment like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

The unique thing about Roger Rabbit was that it put characters from different studios in the same universe. There's nowhere else you'll see Daffy and Donald Duck going at it. this was a big deal at the time!

Same deal here. I would never have thought you'd be able to get this many companies to license their properties. Seeing Bowser, Robotnik, Kano, Zangief, and a Pacman ghost in the same room is close to unthinkable.
posted by painquale at 4:06 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seeing Bowser, Robotnik, Kano, Zangief, and a Pacman ghost in the same room is close to unthinkable.

I guess that's the thing - I only vaguely recognised some of those characters and couldn't have named any of them. Except Pacman ghost.
posted by crossoverman at 5:09 PM on June 10, 2012


I think the age group they have so firmly in thier perfectly calibrated sights are people slightly younger than you with kids. 32 year old geek parents and they like. I mean, all of that is for the parents and older watchers, PC Man has a kind of totemic, iconic appeal but kids today don't care about Q Bert.
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 PM on June 10, 2012


kids today don't care about Q Bert.

I'm not sure. A friend of mine teaches high school, and she told me that the other day a fifteen-year-old student came in wearing a Mega Man shirt (original NES design). She said, "Sweet! Mega Man!", and the kid was shocked. "How does someone as old as you know who Mega Man is?"
posted by painquale at 11:55 PM on June 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Steve Austin had a gender and he was part-robot. And, since his legs had to be completely replaced, I have always assumed his man bits were among the replacement parts.

Has nobody ever made that porn film? What's wrong with this world?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:54 PM on June 9 [+] [!]


You kid because you love?

posted by chavenet at 8:11 AM on June 11, 2012




Even Cars living cars didn't test my suspension of disbelief as far-to-the-brink as those [talking] dogs [in Up] did. I had to just tell myself "OK were just gonna go with it" which I really shouldn't have to do.

But a house lifted by balloons with no effort to detach the foundation or utilities, or electrical substations fueld by the energy of kids' screams-- not a problem?
posted by msalt at 11:39 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


But a house lifted by balloons with no effort to detach the foundation or utilities, or electrical substations fueld by the energy of kids' screams-- not a problem?


I thought he did in the former, but the latter makes perfect sense within its universe. Up takes place in OUR universe and that made it hard to buy.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:49 PM on June 14, 2012


Fair enough. I actually did read somewhere that they did the math on helium or weather balloons and the number depicted did have the force to life the house. The utilities still bugged me though. (And for the record, I loved both movies.)
posted by msalt at 10:15 PM on June 14, 2012


Got to remember, that house was at least 70 to 80 years old. It was dilapidated when our favorite older couple first met as children. Guessing that our main character was in his 70's or at worse, 80's, that indicates a birth year sometime in the 1920s or 1930s. Thus, the house surely wouldn't have been abandoned for only a short time given it's decay, so let's push the house back to at least 1910s if not 1890s to 1900s. We've suddenly got a house that's over a hundred years old. While they fixed it up, who's to say how deteriorated the utilities were by the time of the movie!


Believe!
posted by Atreides at 7:00 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I might almost buy that if I wasn't living in a house built in 1900 (after two built in 1905). They're very solidly connected. Even the one that didn't have a foundation.
posted by msalt at 7:57 PM on June 15, 2012


Roger Ebert gives Brave three out of four stars, and Tasha Robinson from The AV Club gives Brave a B.

Ebert:
The good news is that the kids will probably love it, and the bad news is that parents will be disappointed if they're hoping for another Pixar groundbreaker.
[...]
This is a great-looking movie, much enlivened by the inspiration of giving Merida three small brothers, little redheaded triplets. The Scottish Highlands are thrillingly painted in astonishing detail, and some action shows Merida's archery more than equal in assorted emergencies.
[...]
"Brave" has an uplifting message about improving communication between mothers and daughters, although transforming your mom into a bear is a rather extreme first step. Elinor is a good sport, under the circumstances. But Merida is far from being a typical fairy-tale princess. Having flatly rejected the three suitors proposed by her family, she is apparently prepared to go through life quite happily without a husband, and we can imagine her in later years, a weathered and indomitable Amazon queen, sort of a Boudica for the Scots. "Brave" seems at a loss to deal with her as a girl and makes her a sort of honorary boy.
Robinson:
At its best, Brave accesses all the complicated feelings involved between a parent and a rebellious adolescent: the mutual frustration, the lack of communication, the way conflicting desires can mask love without weakening it. But Brave goes to that deep emotional well too rarely; it spends more time splashing in the shallows.
[...]
It’s deeply tempting to blame the film’s bifurcated feel on its two directors—Brenda Chapman, the original director, conceived of the film based on her relationship with her daughter, but was fired from the project. Pixar storyboarding vet and first-time feature director Mark Andrews, who previously directed the Oscar-nominated Pixar short “One-Man Band,” took over partway through the production. Given Pixar’s organic, collaborative method of story-building, it’s far too simplistic to attribute the mid-film change to the mid-film directorial switch. But the not-always-satisfying end results suggest a film with multiple agendas and visions that don’t fully work together. It’s a lovely picture, but the frame could use some straightening.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:52 AM on June 21, 2012


These are both pretty indicative of what I'm seeing pop up. I plan to see Brave this weekend and I'll offer my own thoughts. I do wonder if after Cars 2, if Pixar's productions will be eyed a bit more critically. That is, there's no longer a "Pixar makes magic!" instinct to every critic who sits down to watch a film for review. If Pixar wants to regain the laurels that it had previously earned, will have to double down on the awesomeness?

It did seem with at least Andrew Stanton, some critics were itching to unleash some anti-Pixar, but I think that had more to do with him jumping mediums than being of Pixar.
posted by Atreides at 11:49 AM on June 21, 2012


I loved Monster's Inc. but this looks horribly lazy.
posted by octothorpe at 5:10 PM on June 21, 2012


I always grind my teeth when I learn of a sequel/prequel from Pixar. It pains me to wonder what awesome original stories are lost or delayed out of a corporate demand to return to ground already trekked upon.
posted by Atreides at 7:37 PM on June 21, 2012


Of all the Pixar stories, Monsters Inc. is...well, I can't say the worst ground to plant a prequel in, because hey, Cars 2 happened, but it's pretty damn close. The whole premise of the story requires that you completely cut out the element that made the first movie so charming.

And meanwhile we're still without Incredibles 2 because Brad Bird is actually holding on to his artistic integrity. The world is not fair.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:02 PM on June 21, 2012


Just back from Brave...

It was a good Pixar movie.

While I wouldn't place it in the high echelon of Wall-e or Ratatouille, it's a solid film that Pixar should be proud of.

The animation was what it was to be expected, excellent. Whatever the Pixar people have been doing to vamp up their cloth textures and behaviors, it's a definite and visible advancement. The clothes drape and flutter beautifully, not to mention, texture-wise, beautiful. I wasn't as impressed with the geography, which intentionally or not, didn't leap out as much as the other animated elements. It seemed much more to be "this will do" rather than "this is the best we can do." The animal animation, horses, bears, and what not, was top notch. I had visions of Pixar animators spending hours upon hours of study to get the hair just, behaviorisms and the twitching of ears perfect.

The movie was better than advertised, in my opinion, but it seems the folks at Disney were worried about trying to sell what essentially is a mother and daughter story to the masses. While it is about Merida "changing" her fate, that's much more a plot device to setup the healing of the relationship between her and her mother - which begins rather rocky (just think of teenager / parent quarrels). This relationship is the heart of the story. The arguments and the healing between the two created an emotional core that carried the film. I'd like to think that Brenda Chapman, the deposed director, was responsible for this, as she credits her own mother daughter relationship for being the basis of the movie.

I do have two complaints. One, bare behinds. It's bad enough when there's a kilt joke as there is in the commercials and trailers, but the movie decided to indulge in several nude bottoms purely for cheap laughs. They were never necessary and detracted from the movie. This leads into the other complaint, Merida's brothers. I didn't like their character design in the trailers and the exposure to them in the movie didn't change that. However, their role as "mischievous" scamps seemed to drag on too long when given screen time and were usually for cheap laughs. This could have been reduced and their more positive roles would have been better highlighted.

I disagree with any review that states the movie will not be entertaining for adults. Yes, as I've mentioned, there are some cheap jokes (which got the audience - average age 6 - 8, laughing), the story through the mother-daughter relationship is more than enough to satisfy the older viewer. For me, the movie just zipped on by. I was surprised when I realized how close I was to its conclusion, I was ready for it to keep on going.

So in sum, I am relieved to say that Cars 2 hasn't diminished the studio - they still got what it takes. This visit to a Pixar Tale may not be as deep in meaning as some Pixar films, but it isn't shallow, either. It's worth paying to see in the theater.
posted by Atreides at 1:24 PM on June 23, 2012


"Brave" seems at a loss to deal with her as a girl and makes her a sort of honorary boy.

WTF is wrong with Ebert? I realize he's a guy but seriously? Pixar did no such thing.
posted by tilde at 6:51 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


tilde, it's a pretty big clue about why so many female movie characters are so badly written. There's still way too many people who think a character isn't really "feminine" if she's not a ridiculous stereotype facing one of the 4 or 5 standard "female" plots (Is her dad threatening to marry her to the wrong guy? Is she in a love triangle? Is she threatened with rape? Is she worried about having children and a career? Is she "overcoming" one sexist stereotype by being a different sexist stereotype?)
posted by straight at 7:37 AM on June 27, 2012


Meanwhile, over at Entertainment Weekly, a writer Adam Markovitz wonders:

"But it’s quite possible that while watching Brave’s tomboyish heroine shoot arrows, fight like one of the boys, and squirm when her mother puts her in girly clothes, a thought might pop into the head of some viewers: Is Merida gay?"

[Note: Merida wears a dress in every scene in the movie.]
posted by Atreides at 7:43 AM on June 27, 2012


I'm not entirely kidding when I say that someone should make this sure fire smash hit socially conscioUs film with a female protagonist and no princesses that everyone wanted Brave to be, because it sounds great, honest. But you should probably just get over Brave not being that and let it be it's own thing.
posted by Artw at 7:48 AM on June 27, 2012


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