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June 18, 2010 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Toy Story 3 hits theaters today, and it's already winning universal acclaim as an enchanting and heartbreaking wonderwork, employing understated 3D and a "real-time" perspective that deftly capitalizes on the nostalgia and can't-go-home-again angst of a generation that grew up with the series. It has a strong pedigree, with 11-year-old predecessor Toy Story 2 the rare sequel to equal its forebear, 1995's Toy Story (itself the first CGI feature in history). And it joins a lofty stable of films: over the last 15 years, Pixar has put out an unbroken chain of ten commercial and critical successes that have grossed over $5 billion worldwide and collected 24 Academy Awards (including the second-ever Best Picture nom for animation with Up), a legacy that rivals some of the greatest franchises in film history. But there's rumbling on the horizon. Although the studio has been hailed for its originality (of the 50 top-grossing movies in history, only nine were original stories -- and five of them were by Pixar), two of their upcoming projects are sequels, both of them based some of their least-acclaimed films (Cars 2 in 2011 and Monsters, Inc. 2 in 2012). And while 2012 will also bring The Bear and the Bow Brave, the first Pixar flick to feature a female protagonist [previously], fellow newcomer Newt has been canceled. With WALL-E/Up/Toy Story 3 guru Andrew Stanton focusing on his 2012 adaptation of John Carter of Mars and with forays into live-action already in development, does this mark the end of the golden age of Pixar? Or is this latest entry lasting proof that even the toughest case of sequelitis can be raised to the level of masterpiece?

Pixar's Original Short Films:
Luxo, Jr. (1986) - Red's Dream (1987) - Tin Toy (1988) - Knick Knack (1989) - Geri's Game (1997) - For the Birds (2000) - Boundin' (2003) - One Man Band (2005) - Lifted (2006) - Presto (2008) - Partly Cloudy (2009)
Notable moments in Pixar films:
I Will Go Sailing No More (Toy Story)
Motivational Speaker (A Bug's Life)
When Somebody Loved Me (Toy Story 2)
Kitty has to Go (Monsters, Inc.)
Opening scene (Finding Nemo)
Missile Attack (The Incredibles)
Racing Pile-up (Cars)
Cooking (Ratatouille)
Opening scene, Define Dancing, End credits (WALL-E)
Married Life, Carl Goes Up, Stuff We Did (Up)
Pixar previously on Metafilter:
Treating Astro Zombie and his girlfriend to a tour of the studio and tickets to the premiere just for inspiring them
Granting a young girl suffering from cancer her last wish
Essays About Pixar
Lots more
posted by Rhaomi (227 comments total) 96 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, 2 Toy Story 3 posts within 5 minutes of each other. What are the odds?
posted by Aversion Therapy at 8:20 AM on June 18, 2010


the problem with scheduled posts..., although you obviously put a lot more work into this one.
posted by delmoi at 8:20 AM on June 18, 2010


Yeah, delete mine. Rhaomi's is a labor of love.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:21 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fantastic post! Nice work, thank you! :)
posted by zarq at 8:25 AM on June 18, 2010


TOY STORY 3 will make you think about Auschwitz.

Woody holds a meeting, where the assembled toy family discusses possible outcomes for their new position in the world. Change a few words and it is the same exact scene at the train station from Roman Polanski's award winning Holocaust drama The Piano.

MOVE FROM DOOMED THREAD:
posted by philip-random at 8:18 AM on June 18 [+] [!]
posted by philip-random at 8:25 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


They're both good. Rory, you should post yours as a comment in here if Rhaomi is cool with that.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:28 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was going to post this on Rory's FPP: A metrosexual Ken you say?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:29 AM on June 18, 2010


Amazing post. And this settles it. When people ask me "Yeah, well what makes America so great?" my answer is now Pixar. You can keep your healthcare France, just don't touch my Up/Toy Story/Finding Nemo.
posted by Chipmazing at 8:30 AM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ugh, Cars 2? Come on. Weakest pic in their franchise. (and increasingly kind of disturbing in a world where massive fossil fuel consumption is wreaking havoc).
posted by emjaybee at 8:31 AM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well put together, but still Blue.
posted by DU at 8:31 AM on June 18, 2010


I love Pixar. I love Brad Bird even more (the Iron Giant is a fantastic film, easily as good as the Incredibles or Ratatouille), but to go along with this post, evidently he's going to direct, ahem, Mission Impossible 4, with Tom Cruise starring again. Not the career choice I would have expected.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:31 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Auschwitz

Well according to the trailer, they watched every escape movie ever made, and supposedly the film is one long escape movie, so we can assume there are elements of many different escape films in it, including the Holocaust types. Anyway, hopefully 3 is not so banal as to be an allegory for the Holocaust.
posted by stbalbach at 8:31 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


From mine:

The metrosexual Ken doll, an involved escape scene, a wannabe Commedia Dell'Arte performer.

On Rotten Tomato's list, it's the third best-reviewed movie of all time, but it's worth noting that RT doesn't count ANY movies that have received even a single negative review (and that Toy Story 2 is their #1 movie right now). So it might still be bumped if any asshole on RT's list decides they want to be edgy.

It's on MetaCritic's Top 100, currently at 46, though that will fluctuate as MetaCritic adds reviews.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:32 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can confirm that Toy Story 3 is not just an extended Holocaust movie. If you look at Philip's link, that's part of a series of analyses, including one that claims Toy Story 3 can be analyzed through a Marxist lens.

It's an amalgam of movie inspirations. They do a remarkable job of making all their elements come together. My favorite is the seedy lounge where the bad toys hang, because of the clever place Pixar located it in the daycare.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:35 AM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've never quite understood the love fest for Pixar( or Toy Story 2 for that matter) but I am certainly intrigued that they've decided to do live action.
posted by madajb at 8:36 AM on June 18, 2010


of the 50 top-grossing movies in history, only nine were original stories -- and five of them were by Pixar

Whoa.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:36 AM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


That Mission Impossible film was amazing. I WILL FIGHT YOU!
posted by chunking express at 8:36 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


With WALL-E/Up/Toy Story 3 guru Andrew Stanton focusing on his 2012 adaptation of John Carter of Mars and with forays into live-action already in development...

Not to mention that Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) has signed on to direct his first live action feature: Mission: Impossible 4.
posted by brundlefly at 8:38 AM on June 18, 2010


Crap. Missed your comment Ghidorah.
posted by brundlefly at 8:39 AM on June 18, 2010


Ugh, Cars 2? Come on. Weakest pic in their franchise.

And also the highest-grossing in terms of merchandising (by a mile).

Just in case you had any idea where Disney's priorities are. It's a damn shame that Pixar wasn't able to break away and become independent.

That said, I look forward to the scene where Lightning McQueen employs the help of Wall-E to plug the Deepwater oil spill.

Does anybody else find it weirdly prophetic that we've trashed a huge portion of the planet, and are now fruitlessly employing a small number of little yellow robots to try to clean it up?
posted by schmod at 8:39 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I loved Toy Story but I feel like I need to watch Toy Story 2 again. I was 21 when it came out and I went to see it alone in theatres. I walked out halfway through because it was so terrible. As time goes on and more people talk about what a great movie it was I have begun to have a rare case of artistic taste self doubt.

OTOH, I clicked the TS2 clip above and found even those three minutes too trite and painful to watch through to the end, less than a shadow of the usual Pixar brilliance. So maybe it just wasn't for me.
posted by 256 at 8:45 AM on June 18, 2010


I didn't even finish watching Cars, but I have very little against it. Definitely their weakest film artistically, but if trivial merchandising-friendly fare like that helps them justify a fucking post-apocalyptic children's movie (let alone one with a stark anti-consumerism message), then they have my blessing.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:48 AM on June 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


I saw Toy Story 3 last night, and it was amazing. I didn't like 2 all that much, but 3 was fantastic. It didn't make me think of Auschwitz, but as soon as they said that I knew what they were referring to. It was a rowdy midnight-showing theater and you could have heard a pin drop during that part.

If there were a live-action studio making movies as consistently fantastic as pixar's animated ones, they'd have all sorts of best-picture oscars by now.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:51 AM on June 18, 2010


When people ask me "Yeah, well what makes America so great?" my answer is now Pixar.

Indeed. As a parent of a Pixar-lovin' five-year-old, I can tell you that their output is so goddamn good and holds up so well on repeat (and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat . . .) viewing that it single-handedly balances out the torrential gusher of branded corporate consume-mass-quantities pablum that flows across the 49th from the Dora and Princesses franchises (among many, many others).

How good is Pixar? One of its early short films - the brilliant little gem "Knick Knack," linked above as well and totally worth 3:50 of your afternoon - performs another seemingly impossible single-handed feat, redeeming Bobby McFerrin's career after the Reaganite propaganda hymn "Don't Worry Be Happy."

And this?

Ugh, Cars 2? Come on. Weakest pic in their franchise. (and increasingly kind of disturbing in a world where massive fossil fuel consumption is wreaking havoc).

Dude, I say this as someone whose entire career is dedicated to bringing an end to the age of oil in my daughter's lifetime, someone who tried in vain to keep Cars out of the house . . . Cars is just fine. Pretty damn good, actually. It's at the weak end of Pixar's output, but that still leaves it miles ahead of most of the preening winking reference-and-scatology fests DreamWorks puts out. It's got really good characters (c'mon, Paul Newman as a gone-to-seed ex-champion? George Carlin as a stuck-in-the-'60s VW bus?), a solid story and a heart of gold. And if you want to get all litcrit on it, I actually prefer its message to the vague whiffs of hyper-individualism that surround The Incredibles.

What's Cars actually about? It's a lament for the decline of the small town, the small business, the community where everyone knows each other and cares about their collective success more than anyone's individual glory. It's a great big love letter to the superiority of human-scale Route 66 living over atomized Interstate decay. You wouldn't have to change a single scene to turn it into a children's primer in New Urbanist philosophy. I could walk into a Grade 5 classroom in a few years and sell the whole gang on the merits of human-scale urban sustainability using nothing but Radiator Springs references.

Pixar, man. Even when they're not even aiming at the bullseye they kind of hit it.
posted by gompa at 8:55 AM on June 18, 2010 [55 favorites]


I love Pixar. I love Brad Bird even more (the Iron Giant is a fantastic film, easily as good as the Incredibles or Ratatouille), but to go along with this post, evidently he's going to direct, ahem, Mission Impossible 4, with Tom Cruise starring again. Not the career choice I would have expected.

Brad Bird doing a live action sequel to a bad franchise? WTF

What's next, Michael Jordan starts playing baseball? Whitesnake starts selling wine?

Oh shit.
posted by kmz at 8:56 AM on June 18, 2010


Rory Marinich: "Yeah, delete mine."

Damn, that's the second of my posts in a row that's happened, and I don't even post that often. Unintentional, but it still makes you feel like a heel, y'know? Sorry, Rory, and thanks for re-posting your links.

Sticherbeast: "of the 50 top-grossing movies in history, only nine were original stories -- and five of them were by Pixar

Whoa.
"

Yeah, slight amendment on that -- it should read "of the 50 top-grossing movies in the last decade," as per this article. I got the factoid from the TVTropes article for Pixar, which expressed it as "of the 50 top grossing movies of the millennium..." I interpreted that as "the last 1,000 years," but I guess it meant this millennium (2000-2010). Still impressive/disturbing, though...
posted by Rhaomi at 8:57 AM on June 18, 2010


Cars is definitly their weakest, but not entirely horrible, and hey, kids love it.

Cars 2 is going to be entirelayeay traced, which is insane.
posted by Artw at 8:59 AM on June 18, 2010


Wall-E featured a female protagonist. Wall-E was not the protagonist of the film named after him.

It was Eve who came to Earth and grabbed the plant that set the plot in motion. Wall-E tagged along back to the spaceship and followed her around as she tried to get the plant back from the idiot 'bots who stole it.

There was one scene where Wall-E proved necessary to the plot, when he stopped the plant from being dropped into the trash chute... that Eve had previously flown out of. Suggesting that she could have flown in after the plant, and caught it in that miraculous tractor beam of hers.

Basically, Wall-E was there to give Eve someone to talk to, erm, beep and gesture at.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:01 AM on June 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Saying Cars was the worst Pixar movie is still setting the bar pretty goddamn high if you ask me. And I really loved Monsters Inc. and am looking forward to a sequel.

We're major fans in our house--my husband and I went to Pixar movies on dates long before we had kids, and now that we have kids, we still sometimes watch Pixar stuff when they're not around--he used The Incredibles to calibrate the picture settings on our new TV, because he's watched it so often and so carefully. As our kids get older they become more interested in the "making-of" type stuff on the DVDs and it's especially cool that my older daughter can recognize the voices so easily--she gets a kick out of playing "find the John Ratzenberger" with each new film, and about halfway through the first time she saw "Big" she turned to me and said "Wait a minute: is that guy Woody's voice?"
posted by padraigin at 9:01 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I walked out halfway through because it was so terrible.

You are not alone.
posted by madajb at 9:01 AM on June 18, 2010


I want to appreciate Cars, because I like all Pixar's films, and honestly, in and of itself, it's not that bad of a movie, particularly when compared to the animated films that other studios have put out.

But, I just can't bring myself to really enjoy it because it's features Larry the Cable Guy, and seriously, fuck him.

I'm really glad Toy Story 3 is reviewing so well, the media blitz that has accompanied it has been nearly overwhelming, to the point of starting to make me hostile, and I don't want to have negative feelings about the film going in.
posted by quin at 9:07 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whoa, hang on a minute. Someone's tackling Burroughs' Mars series?

Wow. Just wow. I can't wait .
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:12 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the first I've heard of The Bear and the Bow/Brave! A Pixar film about a red headed archer girl?!? Featuring "the unpredictable forces of nature" and an ancient curse? And they're all Scottish? FUCKING CHRIST, I AM SO MUCH MORE AMPED THAN I CAN ARTICULATE.
posted by troublewithwolves at 9:14 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


"It's a damn shame that Pixar wasn't able to break away and become independent."

I'm trying to remember a Crusty the Clown quote:

"They drove a dump truck full of money up to my house. I'm not made of stone!"
posted by Trochanter at 9:14 AM on June 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


Is this the thread where I point out that Up was the best movie I've seen in years? That I wept openly at roughly four different points in the movie, and was astounded by just how beautiful it was? The scene where the little girl's room is flooded with color from the light going through the balloons? The throw away moment when the window cleaner raises up his hand as if to touch the balloons? They could have easily gone for a slapstick reaction, the slack jaw, the calamity caused by wonder, but instead, they showed how those two people were affected by beauty they couldn't rationally be expected to understand (a house flying down the street held aloft by balloons), and, with just slight gestures, intimating that it was a moment that they would always remember?

God. Up was a wonderful film. They even made talking dogs funny and interesting again.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:14 AM on June 18, 2010 [21 favorites]


A Pixar film about a red headed archer girl?!? Featuring "the unpredictable forces of nature" and an ancient curse? And they're all Scottish?

And directed by the same woman that wrote Beauty and the Beast!
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:16 AM on June 18, 2010


<pixar connection>I don't want to brag, but I once dated the niece of Pixar's founder.</pixar connection>

Also, I love the films.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:24 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of the faux-controversial animations of 2009 I actually really rate The Princess and the Frog - Which is good, because my daughter has watched it 20 odd times.

And yeah, Tiana is not a real princess, but princesses are stupid, and she's better than a princess.

/ends phrase I would never expect to type.
posted by Artw at 9:25 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pixar has put out an unbroken chain of ten commercial and critical successes that have grossed over $5 billion worldwide

They could protect Toronto five times over!

a legacy that rivals some of the greatest franchises in film history

Eh, I wouldn't count the Batman and Spiderman movies amongst the "greatest franchises in film history," especially as Pixar's only joining features between the 10 films is that Pixar made them. A very general joining feature was that they've all been all-ages films, appropriate for the whole family, and the sort of thing that can become a little kid brain worm. Some other franchises (Star Trek especially) were really "genre" flicks that were primarily limited to the existing fanbase (until the latest film), and the X-Men and Mission Impossible films were expensive "cheap hacks," playing off of nostalgia and geek love. Would they be as interesting if the character names were changed and the traits smudged enough that they weren't obviously playing off the already developed characters? I don't think so.

In other terms, the deck was heavily stacked in Pixar's favor, though Pixar has really made their own deck. Instead of clinging to a known popular entity (Star Trek, X-Men, Mission Impossible, Jurassic Park [the first book was well liked, right?], Batman AND Spiderman), they made something new (Star Wars IV-VI, Matrix, Indy) that the whole family could see without parents needing to cover the kids eyes and ears (most, if not all of the movies were not tiny kid appropriate, unless you're fine with a good bit of violence/aggression), yet something teens, parents and non-parents would enjoy. In short, Pixar does unique films, and it does them well.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:25 AM on June 18, 2010


So it might still be bumped if any asshole on RT's list decides they want to be edgy.

PAGING ARMOND WHITE
posted by mightygodking at 9:31 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Am I the only person who fully trusts Pixar to keep a sequel fresh and original, no matter the movie? I think they've earned the benefit of the doubt, everyone.
posted by reductiondesign at 9:35 AM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Tiana is a real princess!

Anyway, about this: increasingly kind of disturbing in a world where massive fossil fuel consumption is wreaking havoc

I hear you, but don't be surprised if Pixar and co. find an effective, but not-too-preachy, way of making this point. OR, they will just do funny talking cars.

SRSLY though, electric lightning McQueen?!?!? THINK ON IT!
posted by Mister_A at 9:40 AM on June 18, 2010


I'll go see it, in fact, it's one of the few summer movies that I'm actually looking forward to, as opposed to ending up at because I want to go out to a movie and there's nothing better to watch.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:41 AM on June 18, 2010


Well this makes it (Cars 2) sound like a zany romp around the world, which ain't so bad neither.
posted by Mister_A at 9:43 AM on June 18, 2010


I hear you, but don't be surprised if Pixar and co. find an effective, but not-too-preachy, way of making this point.

You know what would be awesome? If they replaced Carlin's VW with a hybrid or all-electric. What's even awesomer is that if anyone was gonna be shrewd enough to do that (and do it well), it'd be Pixar.

But, I just can't bring myself to really enjoy it because it's features Larry the Cable Guy, and seriously, fuck him.

Chacun a son gout and all that, but I know if I brought this kind of standard to bear on my music collection, I'd have to toss half of it on the basis of unrepentent sexism and misanthropy alone.
posted by gompa at 9:45 AM on June 18, 2010


So, the real question here is: when is my one year old old enough to start watching Pixar movies? Clearly she should start with these instead of Disney proper (except the Lion King, because I love the Lion King).
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:50 AM on June 18, 2010


Whoa, hang on a minute. Someone's tackling Burroughs' Mars series?

Not only is it Stanton directing, which after Wall-E suits me just fine, but it's had script work by Michael Chabon. I can't wait.

(The only way I could have loved an animated film any more than Wall-E is if they took Wall-E and made it all like the opening 20 minutes.)
posted by opsin at 9:53 AM on June 18, 2010


Real princesses are social parasites and do not have awesome cooking skills.

(though I have noticed that this mainly manifests in the form of adding two dashes of tabasco to absolutely anything)
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on June 18, 2010


Whoa, hang on a minute. Someone's tackling Burroughs' Mars series?

Job done!
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on June 18, 2010


Doh! My comment from the beleted thread:

Saw a preview of this. It's everything you would expect Pixar to do. Go.

Really and truly. It is absolutely fantastic moviemaking, through and through.

I still chalk Cars up over John Lasseter's love of, well, cars. Weakest link in the fence, but when I finally gave it a chance it was just fine. Not stupendous, mind you, but just fine.

schmod, Just in case you had any idea where Disney's priorities are. It's a damn shame that Pixar wasn't able to break away and become independent.

You uh.. you, you do know who took over Disney Animation back in '06, ya?

"In April 2006, Disney purchased Pixar and Lasseter was named Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar and Disney animation studios. He was also named Principal Creative Advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering, where he will help design attractions for Disney's theme parks. He will report directly to Disney chief Bob Iger, bypassing Disney's studio and theme parks executives. He also received green-light power on films with Roy E. Disney's consent. .. Pixar Wiki. It's the biggest reason I've been hoping Disney will have a renaiisance, especially in their animation, especially after the horrid disaster that was Eisner's late era "Everything will now be in 3D!"
posted by cavalier at 9:59 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, somebody's gotta stick up for "Monsters, Inc." I say it's the best of the Pixar oeuvre, for no other reason than it doesn't clobber you over the head with winky-wink product placement and the unpleasant Disney habit of crowing "Hey, we've got Celebrities doing our voices!!!" (I'm looking at you, Woody.)

The movie has a gentle (but exciting) vibe that doesn't make my toddler hide under the couch cushions or break stuff. It's calmer than Cars, funnier (by a mile) and less emotionally manipulative than any of the rest, and has the best Ratzenberger of 'em all. (Abominable Snowman, late in the movie, with possibly urine-soaked snowcones.) Billy Crystal is so much more hilarious when you don't have to look at him. And while I like watching John Goodman, he does a fine job as Abbott to Crystal's Costello.

Plus, James Coburn's Waternoose (the crab guy) is a total homage to Orson Welles.
posted by turducken at 9:59 AM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm really surprised at the rave reviews of Toy Story 3, the trailers looked pretty terrible in a Dreamworks sort of way. I loved the first two, the second one most, and was pretty bummed when I saw the trailer for this one. Hopefully it was just a sucky trailer and the movie is as good as the reviews.
posted by octothorpe at 9:59 AM on June 18, 2010


The last five minutes of Toy Story 3 are really something else. YOU WILL CRY BUCKETS.
posted by eugenen at 10:00 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


...of the 50 top-grossing movies in history, only nine were original stories -- and five of them were by Pixar...

I thought that sounded amazing, so I wanted to look up and see what the other four original stories were. However, if this list is correct, there are quite a few more than nine stories with original plots in the top 50. Plus, it appears that one of the Pixar films has rolled off of the end, leaving 4.

Just to give an updated list, other than the Pixar (Finding Nemo, Up, Ratatouille, the Incredibles), the original stories out of the top 50 were:
1. Hancock (#46)
2. Kung Fu Panda (#44)
3. The Sixth Sense (#40)
4. 2012 (#32)
5. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (#31)
6. The Lion King (#29)
7. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (#27)
8. Independence Day (#24)
9. Titanic (#2)
10. Avatar (#1)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, might also count, if being based on a ride is permissible.

So, that means that 14, not 9, of the top 50 are not sequels or based off of a book. Not all of these are great movies, but it looks a little less bleak for originality.
posted by Alison at 10:01 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]



I love Pixar. I love Brad Bird even more (the Iron Giant is a fantastic film, easily as good as the Incredibles or Ratatouille), but to go along with this post, evidently he's going to direct, ahem, Mission Impossible 4, with Tom Cruise starring again. Not the career choice I would have expected.


Brad's recent movie pitch was poo-pooed by Disney. Exit Brad.

Does this Mark the End of the Golden Age of Pixar?

No. But we're going through a period of time where new film ideas are difficult to get support for. Enter bad economy.
posted by uraniumwilly at 10:01 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cars is much better than its premise gives it any right to be. I agree it's on the weak end of the spectrum, and it definitely feels like a bit of a cash-in...but hey, if you have to make one lesser film once in a while to bankroll your more ambitious projects.

And let's be honest with ourselves, those of us who think Cars is a lesser film do so because we don't appreciate NASCAR, and we're more often than not left-of-center thinkers who find its appeal to middle America somewhat unsavory. But it's quite obvious that middle America loves it a whole damn lot. AND it's not just a NASCAR film, it has a lot of redeeming qualities.

Up was incredible. I bawled like a baby in the middle of the theater, which would have been more embarrassing were it not for the fact that everyone else was crying too.
posted by jnrussell at 10:02 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh jesus, the first five minutes of Up!
posted by cavalier at 10:07 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


...unpleasant Disney habit of crowing "Hey, we've got Celebrities doing our voices!!!"

What are you talking about? Pixar doesn't do this at all. They get fantastic people to do their voice-overs, but they never advertise the fact. For instance, most people don't know that Kevin Spacey is in A Bug's Life.

Are you thinking of Dreamworks, by chance?
posted by reductiondesign at 10:08 AM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Bobby McFarrin should do every soundtrack for Pixar
posted by wheelieman at 10:09 AM on June 18, 2010


Yea, I cried during the prologue of UP too. That was such a blindside.
posted by octothorpe at 10:09 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Remember back when Toy Story 1 came out, and it generated lots of discussion because everyone was so amazed by and interested in the gimmick of doing an entire movie with computer-generated imagery, and the fact that it would tell some sort of story too was kind of a footnote?

I can't express how happy I am that discussions of Pixar's work are now, deservedly, exactly the opposite. Brilliant stories this and incredible moments that and oh, I guess we should mention that "first CGI feature in history" bit; it can go in a parenthetical remark somewhere.
posted by roystgnr at 10:09 AM on June 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


1. Hancock (#46)

WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
posted by Mister_A at 10:14 AM on June 18, 2010


Man, that is shocking. Hancock wasn't even a terrible movie, it was half of a terrible movie welded to an entirely different and more terrible movie.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2010 [18 favorites]


MetaFilter's own Mightygodking on why Brad Bird directing Mission Impossible 4 is a great idea.
posted by straight at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd like to redact my last post. Hancock is an excellent entertainment. It was better than Cats.
posted by Mister_A at 10:17 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's probably not inflation-adjusted so recent movies will have disproportionately good showings.
posted by GuyZero at 10:18 AM on June 18, 2010


it was half of a terrible movie welded to an entirely different and more terrible movie.

heh. Now I'm going to feel compelled to try to shoehorn Hancock into a conversation today just so I can turn around and dis it thusly.
posted by GuyZero at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2010


Whoa, hang on a minute. Someone's tackling Burroughs' Mars series?

It matters a lot who that someone is. For upwards of 99% of Hollywood this would be very bad, vile, ass-stink news. But Stanton/Chabon? That does sound promising.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:20 AM on June 18, 2010


Here's an inflation adjusted list of the best selling movies ever. Titanic is the only movie from the last thirty years to make the top ten.
posted by octothorpe at 10:22 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh look! An excuse to link that "Toy Story meets The Wire" thing!
posted by rewil at 10:24 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK, if I'm going to the theater this weekend with my dad and 8-year-old son for Father's Day, is Toy Story 3 the movie to watch? Because I was going to pick The Karate Kid, but Pixar's hard to beat, so I dunno.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:25 AM on June 18, 2010


OK, if I'm going to the theater this weekend with my dad and 8-year-old son for Father's Day, is Toy Story 3 the movie to watch?

Yes.
posted by reductiondesign at 10:27 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


And let's be honest with ourselves, those of us who think Cars is a lesser film do so because we don't appreciate NASCAR

Speak for yourself. The story was a trite formula, the characterizations were embarrassing stereotypes (bordering on offensive in not a few cases) , they did lots of things Pixar never does, like contemporary celebrity caricatures (when Warner Bros did this they almost all fall like clangers nows), and there were stupid, meaningless rabble-rousing "woo!" lines like "the sixties weren't good to you, were they?", which didn't even even make sense in context, it was just a crowd-pleaser for its target demographic.

So no, not a thing to do with NASCAR. I never cared about boxing but I liked Rocky I, nor football but I liked The Longest Yard. The sport itself is almost irrelevant if there's a story.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:27 AM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


it was half of a terrible movie welded to an entirely different and more terrible movie.

That's a bit unfair... I'd say it was at least half a dozen increasingly terrible movies welded together

Also, come on people... no Avatar / original joke?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:28 AM on June 18, 2010


ET is from 28 years ago.

/jerkface
posted by Mister_A at 10:28 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brad's recent movie pitch was poo-pooed by Disney. Exit Brad.

I'd like to hear more about that. Disney or Pixar poo-pooed? Pitched to Pixar or Disney? IMDB's still got him doing "1906" with Pixar, or at least with Pixar money.
posted by Trochanter at 10:30 AM on June 18, 2010


Cars is a really good movie for what it is, and I fully expect Cars 2 to blow the original out of the water.

I'd like to think that Pixar learned what not to do after Cars—I mean, they followed that with Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up. All in a row.
posted by reductiondesign at 10:31 AM on June 18, 2010


Disney or Pixar poo-pooed? Pitched to Pixar or Disney? IMDB's still got him doing "1906" with Pixar, or at least with Pixar money.

I think one might consider Pixar as a collection of talented individuals and the senior execs, Stanton, Lasseter, Bird, etc. as those who have a pitch relationship with Disney. My understanding of the situation is the senior people at Pixar were on board but Disney was not. Right now 1906 is not happening with Brad at the helm.
posted by uraniumwilly at 10:37 AM on June 18, 2010


You forgot one of the best Pixar scenes of all time in that list. NO CAPES!
posted by schmod at 10:40 AM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


i remember when i saw Luxo Jr. and Tin Toy in animation festivals here in NYC. one was at the Waverly Place theater and the other was on the Second Ave theater, the one with the beautiful roof detailing.

Good times.
posted by liza at 10:41 AM on June 18, 2010


jnrussell: "And let's be honest with ourselves, those of us who think Cars is a lesser film do so because we don't appreciate NASCAR, and we're more often than not left-of-center thinkers who find its appeal to middle America somewhat unsavory."

No, I think it's a lesser film because it's a bland remake of Doc Hollywood. It could be about anthropomorphized lattes and chunks of brie, and I'd still think it sucks.
posted by brundlefly at 10:43 AM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is my first time watching Partly Cloudy, the animated short shown before Up (I watched Up twice, once on a the crippled DVD rental, and the second time on an international flight, so no animated short), and I'm sitting here getting my free wi-fi at the sandwich place, no audio, choppy video (slow laptop) and Partly Cloudy practically made me weep. Openly.

Remember when Disney was considered "magic"? You know, Magic Kingdom and all.

Well, Pixar is the new magic. I have never been disappointed in a Pixar film - they are able to take the most trite conventions (a father searching for his kidnapped son) and high-concept treatments (no-dialog post-apocalyptic Earth being cleaned up by a robot running for millenia) and somehow turn them into the most amazing, heartfelt, character- and plot-driven films ever.

Every year a new Pixar film is announced, and when the trailer comes out, I used to find myself questioning the premise. How boring Finding Nemo looked; how Michael-Bay The Incredibles looked. But then I fall back on history, of how Pixar somehow magically turns everything it touches into movie gold. Magic.

Now, when I see a trailer about a grumpy old man with balloons, I just sit back, smile, and have faith. And a second sequel to a film that didn't need a first sequel, with edgy and/or cute new possibly Poochie-esque toy characters? Sure. Because when it comes to Pixar, I believe in magic.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:47 AM on June 18, 2010 [16 favorites]


As someone who has had Toy Story 2 on daily repeat at her house by son's request, I am both relieved and unhappy that 3 is out. Because the boy will love seeing it, but will not understand why we can't have it on constant repeat at our house yet.

Though he will probably be sad about the apparent lack of Zurg. He thinks Zurg is the shit.
posted by emjaybee at 10:47 AM on June 18, 2010


No, I think it's a lesser film because it's a bland remake of Doc Hollywood. It could be about anthropomorphized lattes and chunks of brie, and I'd still think it sucks.

The latte works in international development, and the brie is a software developer working for an open source start up! It's set in Portland, in the house of a chicken-raising lesbian. It's gold, Jerry, gold!
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on June 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Artw—OK I like it so far—but how about this—work with me babe—the brie is... PAUL REUBENS aka PEE-WEE Herman! And the lesbian is JOHN GOODMAN! And the Chickens are all played by ROSIE PEREZ!
posted by Mister_A at 10:54 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, somebody's gotta stick up for "Monsters, Inc."

Yeah, that got a "wait, what?" from me too. I think it's terrific.

Also: the ending is wonderfully constructed: Sully reunited with Boo, but instead of showing the entire tearful reunion we see just Sully's joy as the door opens.

I struggled to get through Cars too. But it seems to me that Cars is out-and-out a kids film -- and specifically a young boys film -- while the rest of their work is very carefully targeted at a mixed audience.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:54 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


btw: if you think any Pixar movie is bad, you have no soul. even the shorts have better stories and character development than 99% of movies coming out of Hollywood : Geri's Game, For the Birds, One Man Band? Even something like "Mike's New Car" and "Jack-Jack Attack" are waaaaaaay better than most live-action films.

am just waiting for them to make an Incredible's spin-off movie with Edna Mode. that would make my life complete :D
posted by liza at 11:04 AM on June 18, 2010


Disney Pixar acquisition = Apple NeXT acquisition.
posted by Scoo at 11:08 AM on June 18, 2010


Monsters, Inc. is wonderful and is a wonderful meditation on grandfather-grandchild relationships. (Or at least I thought so when I saw it, right after my rather Sully-esque grandpa died.)

And this makes me cry every time I watch it.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:12 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


dpx.mfx, our 19-month-old has been watching Nemo over and over and over again since right around when she was one. It's one of her favorite things in the world, and I'm impressed with how sturdily it holds up under such grinding viewing circumstances. (Though the things talking to things they eat vibe still weirds me out a bit, but hey.) --No villains in this film, which I really appreciate.

Anyway, the spooky developmental moment: the third or fourth time she saw it, or rather the third or fourth time it was playing while she was in the TV room with us, right at the beginning there, when Marlin and Coral are roughhousing in their new anemone home, she suddenly leans in close and grabs my arm and holds on tight, still looking up at the screen. Which was innocuously full of laughing, wisecracking fish, bright colors, gaiety and cheer. But she remembered the plot, or at least the sequence of events; she knew the barracuda was coming, and even if she didn't quite know why it was bad she knew it was bad. (Music cues and editing help there oh no doubt.) That squeeze of the arm, that first little moment of recognition, of (yes) anticipatory dread, that evidence of narrative tracking--

And when the turtles show up? Damn. Me, her, the Spouse: we all still stop whatever it is we might have been doing while the movie's playing and just ride that moment for a bit.
posted by kipmanley at 11:17 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I came to the thread to be all YAY I LOVE PIXAR TOO and then I read
Whoa, hang on a minute. Someone's tackling Burroughs' Mars series?

Not only is it Stanton directing, which after Wall-E suits me just fine, but it's had script work by Michael Chabon. I can't wait.
...and now I'm all OMG SQUEE THAT IS THE BESTEST THING EVER OMG OMG OMG
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:18 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I found that it took several viewings for me to appreciate Cars. I agree that it's on the bottom end of Pixar's best (I'd actually place a Bug's Life at the end - just don't enjoy it anywhere near as much any other Pixar film). There's some really wonderful details to take when watching Cars. It's been a while since I've seen either TS or TS2, so I'm probably bias, but I place Wall-e, Ratatouille and UP as my top favorites. Incredibles is great, as was Monster, Inc., but those three are the ones I'd take with me to a deserted island.

Unlike most franchises, due to Pixar's ability to perform wonderfully with original stories, I'm irritated that Disney is forcing on the sequels (I'll let TS3 convince me otherwise). I'd much rather see them develop more new stuff than falling back on previous characters and settings. Brave sounds like one of those films, but as a result of the sequels, was pushed back. Though, I will admit, if sequels are to be made, I would much rather Pixar put all its heart into them, than allowing second rate versions to flow out of the Disney factor (See sequels to all their classics that came rolling out over the last ten years).

I do have hopes for Disney's animation department. Not all animation need be three dimensional!
posted by Atreides at 11:18 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Pixar. I have this notion that if there was a spike in the birth rate earlier this year, it was due to people watching the first ten minutes of Up. The shorts are great and ever since Kottke mentioned that the shorts usually have something to do with an upcoming feature, they're more fun to scrutinize.

I like the idea of Wall-E, I love the idea and the end credits, but I can't help but feel like it's the Ultimate Nice Nerdy Guy Fantasy. The robot falls in love, stalks the shit out of the shiny awesome flying robot with lasers, leaving gifts, follows her through space, and fucks with her job/directive enough that she's considered defective. But it's ok because he saves the plant! And she finally realizes that it's True Wuv because he looked out for her the entire time she was asleep. Including creating a creepy date where he tries to touch her. But the human race is saved, so that's something, right?
posted by zix at 11:18 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


(PS: Monsters, Inc., while a fantastic film and one of my favorites, was a little too odd for her; lots of jolly jokes and some roaring was needed to smooth over her uncertainty about all those monsters. --Roaring? Ever since she learned that lions roar, she roars at things that are supposedly trying to scare her. So she roared at the monsters and everything was pretty much fine after that. Though the ending chase sequence is a bit much, energy-wise. But she loved Boo. Still. For her, it's no Nemo.

(She also likes Up.)
posted by kipmanley at 11:23 AM on June 18, 2010


The last five minutes of Toy Story 3 are really something else. YOU WILL CRY BUCKETS.

That's what they said about Up.
posted by madajb at 11:25 AM on June 18, 2010


An incredible FPP on a favorite topic here with many facets and things to check out. Thank you Rhaomi! (There goes the rest of the afternoon...)
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:26 AM on June 18, 2010


Every discussion I've had about why Cars is just not what we're looking for from Pixar ends up with acknowledging that it's the big toy seller, and Disney loves that. I daresay that we're still selling new Cars books at our bookstore, while some of the other Pixar books are only coming in used; the car attraction keeps it sellin'.
posted by redsparkler at 11:30 AM on June 18, 2010


Gawddamn, I loved Wall-E....
posted by Skygazer at 11:38 AM on June 18, 2010


btw: if you think any Pixar movie is bad, you have no soul.

I guess I have no soul, because I walked out of Up. What a major disappointment.

I was certain I was going to love it so I purposely shielded myself from as much information about it as I could. I went into the theater knowing very little about the story other than balloons on a house with a grumpy old guy, but it looked incredibly imaginative and, literally, uplifting. After the first 10 minutes, I was blown away and sobbing.

Then the movie started and this very sweet, wonderful story that could have soared anywhere the imagination could go suddenly did an about face into a predictable rescue story with a cartoonish villain in a dark and creepy jungle. With talking dogs. I was so let down. All the color and promise of the brilliant posters and that excellent teaser trailer had evaporated. My young daughter was so bored she convinced us to leave about 20 minutes before the end. We went home and watched Wall-E again.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:47 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh look! An excuse to link that "Toy Story meets The Wire" thing!

and the Requiem for a Dream and Boyz N The Hood things.
posted by otherchaz at 12:03 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm really glad Toy Story 3 is reviewing so well, the media blitz that has accompanied it has been nearly overwhelming

I don't think this can really be true; I have a four-year-old son and am thus squarely in the marketing target for this, and I didn't know they were making a sequel until this post. So thanks for this, rhaomi.
posted by escabeche at 12:09 PM on June 18, 2010


I didn't know they were making a sequel until this post.

Wait, seriously? I've been seeing Toy Story 3 stuff everywhere for weeks.
posted by reductiondesign at 12:12 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


if you think any Pixar movie is bad, you have no soul.

"You're sitting in a movie theater showing Up. The first five minutes have just ended, and everyone around you is sobbing...but you're not crying."

"What do you mean, I'm not crying?"

"I mean you're not crying. Why is that, Leon?"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:17 PM on June 18, 2010 [35 favorites]


Tim Robbins once copped to making a bad movie because of the potential action figure. But Cars isn't a bad film by any means.

Personally though, I'd really like for Pixar to branch out a bit and have an experimental arthouse division with a low budget and the freedom to do stuff that's only indirectly linked to the Pixar brand. Pixar does what it does well, but I think the demand that every thing they produce be a family-friendly blockbuster is rather limiting.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:18 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Brad's recent movie pitch was poo-pooed by Disney. Exit Brad.

Who the hell gave Disney veto power over that? Pixar and the Pixar minions should inform Disney of what they are doing purely as a courtesy measure and only when they can be bothered to get around to it. The conversation should have gone as follows:

Brad Bird: I'd like to make a movie about...
Pixney: It's great, we love it. Have a big pile of money to go and make it and please, pretty please invite us to the launch party.

Even the Pixar films I don't like are vastly more watchable than the kid's dreck out there (Finding Nemo and Cars are just kind of meh for me but I'll watch either one fifty times over than see Shrek 3 again). Even when a Pixar film flirts with greatness and then goes in a different direction I still love it (I still contend that Wall-E would have been a better movie if there had been no conversation and no dialogue for the entire film and UP was merely pretty fun after the gut-wrenching beginning). It is absolutely impossible for Toy Story 3 to be anything other than a sucky grab for cash and everyone knows that they still would have made tons of money with a straight-to-video quality sequel. The fact that they cared enough to actually make it, you know, good, is just stupid.

There is no other director, company, genre, whatever that produces automatic must-see-now movies for me (well, James Cameron comes close, but he makes amusement parks rides, not movies). I will go see any Pixar film. If the next Pixar movie is "Scientology: The Musical" or "The Littlest Objectivist: An Ayn Rand Tale" I'll go see it.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:20 PM on June 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


My son has a Toy Story 3 paddle-ball game! You know, where the ball is attached to the paddle via rubber band.
posted by Mister_A at 12:20 PM on June 18, 2010


I, too, would see Scientology: The Musical.
posted by Mister_A at 12:22 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Disney Pixar acquisition = Apple NeXT acquisition.

I'm surprised you didn't use ==

I like the idea of Wall-E, I love the idea and the end credits, but I can't help but feel like it's the Ultimate Nice Nerdy Guy Fantasy.

You know, there are not a whole lot of stories out there. The greatness lies in the details.
posted by JHarris at 12:22 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ratatouille was gorgeous and wonderful, I could kick myself for not seeing this in the theaters.

The first 5 minutes or so ofUP, which described the entire width and breadth of Ed and Ellie's relationship, was one of the finest, most moving examples of storytelling I've ever seen. And it was done mostly without words. The rest of the movie was a let down only in the sense of being merely fantastic as opposed to spectacular.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:23 PM on June 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


Tim Robbins once copped to making a bad movie because of the potential action figure

If there's a Nuke LaLoosh action figure out there, I must have it!

Also, Tim Robbins was in Top Gun. I did not know that before this post.
posted by madajb at 12:32 PM on June 18, 2010


Yeah, slight amendment on that -- it should read "of the 50 top-grossing movies in the last decade," as per this article. I got the factoid from the TVTropes article for Pixar, which expressed it as "of the 50 top grossing movies of the millennium..." I interpreted that as "the last 1,000 years,"

They're only getting this by sticking to a very particular definition of original.

A movie that has a more or less wholly original story, like The Phantom Menace*, doesn't count because it's an original story set within an existing franchise.

What Pixar often does, though, is establish a new property or franchise around a very well-worn basic plotline. A story about a high-powered overachiever finding something in common with the slow country folk is not, at its core, original. A story of a kid who gets lost, is pursued by his parent(s), and they both learn something valuable about themselves is not particularly original. Likewise, A Bug's Life is pretty much The Three Amigos with bugs.

I don't mean to say that the details that Pixar adds aren't original, or that the movies are actually terribly derivative. But The Phantom Menace or any of the Pirates of the Caribbean crapfests are at least as original as Cars, Finding Nemo and A Bug's Life.

*I am not suggesting that TPM doesn't suck.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:37 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Then the movie started and this very sweet, wonderful story that could have soared anywhere the imagination could go suddenly did an about face into a predictable rescue story with a cartoonish villain in a dark and creepy jungle. With talking dogs. I was so let down.

Easy to say, but tell me specifically what you think would've been better. The problem with a big beautiful open-ended imaginative world is that it can easily be *too* broad to actually host a tight narrative. Pretty much any story is going to, by necessity, crop off some of the "promise" of its setting.

The back half of Up has a few broad elements, sure. But they're expertly used, and don't really step on the toes of some of the more significant thematic elements: Carl letting go of the house as a surrogate for Ellie, the idea that Muntz's villainy is simply a manifestation of Carl's own obsessive behavior.

I will say that I think Up's third act couldve been fleshed out and polished more. I vaguely remember hearing commentary that they wanted to include a redemptive storyline for Muntz but couldn't fit it in. I think a little extra effort would've gone a long way, since as it stands that conclusion is a little abrupt and unsatisfying.

That, and uncharacteristic continuity issues (why is Russell still dirty and unkempt at his award ceremony?) are what keep Up from topping my Pixar list, but complaints about it squandering its premise aren't even on my radar.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:54 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Disney Pixar acquisition = Apple NeXT acquisition.

I don't see how these are remotely comparable, other than Steve Jobs was involved in both of the acquired companies. In terms of core products, leadership, and personality, NeXT acquired Apple rather than the other way around. In contrast, Pixar has had little influence on the bulk of Disney, and from the Brad Bird rumors above it seems that Pixar is having trouble shrugging off the mediocrity of Disney leadership.
posted by Llama-Lime at 1:01 PM on June 18, 2010


Partly Cloudy practically made me weep
A strange thing happened to me when I watched that short for the first time, and still happens every time I just think about it - I get some kind of allergic reaction: my heart starts beating faster, I can only breathe in short rapid breaths and my eyes get all watery.
You would think I'm crying, but I assure you, it's an ALLERGIC REACTION AND NOTHING ELSE.
posted by bitteroldman at 1:34 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who the hell gave Disney veto power over that?

Pixar did when they entered into that partnership. Pixar is a production house. Disney, among other things, is one of the distribution giants in the industry. Pixar makes great films. Disney makes certain they get on thousands of screens with 3-D glasses.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:38 PM on June 18, 2010


No villains in this film, which I really appreciate.

I recall Roger Ebert making the point that this is one of the hallmarks of the best Miyazaki films - that there are no villains. I believe he mentioned that when discussing "My Neighbor Totoro," and it's certainly true of most of his work. Pixar's John Lassiter is a big Miyazaki fan, as I recall.
posted by jbickers at 1:45 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


This climactic flashback sequence that start this clip makes me choke up every time I watch it. Every time.

The Anton Ego narration that follows it regarding the defense of the new is one of Peter O'Toole's finest moments.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:45 PM on June 18, 2010


infinitewindow: "And this makes me cry every time I watch it."

Was that intentional? Was I just Dan the Man Rolled?
posted by charred husk at 1:46 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Amazing post. And this settles it. When people ask me "Yeah, well what makes America so great?" my answer is now Pixar. You can keep your healthcare France, just don't touch my Up/Toy Story/Finding Nemo.

Interesting. I've found all the Pixar films I've watched to be completely overrated. I suppose Wall-E was the "best" although that was EXTREMELY overrated.

I'd trade all the Pixar films ever made for an extra day of vacation each year, let alone universal health care.

Speak for yourself. The story was a trite formula, the characterizations were embarrassing stereotypes (bordering on offensive in not a few cases) , they did lots of things Pixar never does, like contemporary celebrity caricatures (when Warner Bros did this they almost all fall like clangers nows), and there were stupid, meaningless rabble-rousing "woo!" lines like "the sixties weren't good to you, were they?", which didn't even even make sense in context, it was just a crowd-pleaser for its target demographic.

This describes pretty much all the Pixar films I've seen.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:49 PM on June 18, 2010


They're only getting this by sticking to a very particular definition of original.

I think they mean, "original from a studio executive's point of view."

Phantom Menace
is a Star Wars movie. Automatic green light. Toy Story 3? Sequel to proven property. Automatic green light.

But Up? "You want $175 million to make a story about an old guy whose wife dies so he ties balloons to his house and floats away?"
posted by straight at 1:57 PM on June 18, 2010


mrgrimm, your username seems quite appropriate. I'm also curious about your comment:

I'd trade all the Pixar films ever made for an extra day of vacation each year, let alone
universal health care.


What is the point in bringing up universal health care in a discussion about movies? Grind axes much?
posted by jnrussell at 1:58 PM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also: the ending is wonderfully constructed: Sully reunited with Boo, but instead of showing the entire tearful reunion we see just Sully's joy as the door opens.

When I first saw it I had a feeling it was an homage to a classic movie but have never been able to figure it out. For a long time I thought it might be City Lights, but it doesn't quite fit..anyone else know what I'm talking about?
posted by tetsuo at 1:59 PM on June 18, 2010


What is the point in bringing up universal health care in a discussion about movies?

That was a rejoinder to this quip, which he quoted in his comment. Lighten up, Francis.
posted by Mister_A at 2:04 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


IT'S ARMOND WHITE TIME: "Pixar has now made three movies explicitly about toys, yet the best movie depiction of how toys express human experience remains Whit Stillman’s 1990 Metropolitan."
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:12 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


ARMOND WHITE HAS MORE KNOWLEDGE FOR YOU ALL: "Jonah Hex [is] the best movie to open this week—easily overshadowing Toy Story 3."
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:16 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Though the things talking to things they eat vibe still weirds me out a bit, but hey.)

You know what weirds me out? Stories about animals or inanimate objects that are sentient yet completely enslaved...the toys in Toy Story can apparently feel pain, for instance. And there are hints (like gasping for breath after climbing) that they need air. And yet they get locked up in boxes for years on end--at least in Buffy when that happened to Angel and he got tossed under the ocean, the show admitted that something like that would make a person freaking insane. Or they get tortured or dismembered and yet they remain alive, apparently. They suffer and suffer without even the hope of death to free them. But their loyalty to their captors/enslavers/the people who eat them is total.

Babe, the original Toy Story, Charlotte's Web, for god's sake that horrible award-winning creepshow kids' book The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, are like horror shows to me. The first time I saw Toy Story I was so distressed I couldn't see what anybody would like about it. We watched Toy Story 2 not too long ago and that part with what's-her-name under the bed for years...I can only imagine what it's like for the ones who end up in landfills. Slowly going insane as the years pass in total darkness... *shudder*

Now I have kids, and I've seen the Toy Story movies 10,000 times, and become inured. And my oldest just asked if I'd take him to see the new one. And I'm sure I'll mostly be fine. As long as I don't let myself think about it.

Yes, I admit I am a weirdo. But I really don't understand why more people don't have this reaction to these kinds of stories.
posted by not that girl at 2:18 PM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Two things about that Armond White review.

1. "The toys wage battle with the daycare center’s cynical veteran cast-offs: Hamm the Piggy Bank pig, Lotsa Hugs and Big Baby."

Someone wasn't watching very closely...

2. "Toy Story 3 suckers fans to think they can accept this drivel without paying for it politically, aesthetically or spiritually."

What the hell does this even mean? White loves to throw in sentences like this, and they simply don't make any damn sense.
posted by reductiondesign at 2:21 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


From White's Jonah Hex review: "...explosions carry 9/11 force..."

I'm sorry, but what the fuck?
posted by reductiondesign at 2:23 PM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


You didn't even mention the hellhound and ravens.
posted by fleacircus at 2:41 PM on June 18, 2010


From White's Jonah Hex review

That was absolutely the most ridiculous review I have ever read in my life.
posted by AdamCSnider at 2:44 PM on June 18, 2010


Oh not that girl, you're not alone. Pixar is so pretty and fun and shiny so long as you don't question the premises too closely. But when your kid watches the same movie 800 times, it's so very hard not to start beanplating like hell.

For example, the simple question "Why would a civilization that could build faster-than-light spaceships and amazing sentient robots be utterly incapable of recycling their debris or rehabilitating Earth's ecosystems?" continues to bug like hell when I watch Wall-E. That and trying to figure out how you raise new generations of human babies on the ship without letting anyone human hold them, since that makes babies die.

I mean, human beings cooped up on an interstellar cruise ship for 7 generations? Where's the religious cults, the coups, the teenagers causing trouble by taking forbidden walks, fer chrissakes? For it to work the way it does in the movie, everyone would have to be on massive amounts of brain-conditioning drugs, which would make the revolt impossible.

I know: beanplating. It's a kid's movie. It's a metaphor. It's not fair to expect that kind of depth and consistency from a cartoon, anymore than the Looney Tunes universe makes a lick of sense if you think about it.

But I think it bugs more in Wall-E because we're being lectured to about trash, by people who churn out massive amounts of plastic kiddie doodads no less.

I look at it this way; someday when my son is older and his ability to criticize media has kicked in, we can deconstruct it together. That will be a lot of fun.
posted by emjaybee at 2:45 PM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was all ready to make fun of Armond White too, but I have to agree that Metropolitan is better than any Pixar movie. But, y'know, high bar.
posted by escabeche at 3:07 PM on June 18, 2010


That was absolutely the most ridiculous review I have ever read in my life.

It reads like parody. I laughed aloud a couple times.
posted by Skot at 3:19 PM on June 18, 2010


I went to see Toy Story 3 at midnight yesterday, and in my opinion, it was the high point of the trilogy. The gags were some of the best I've seen in a Pixar film (how about that intro?), but the serious moments really made me feel like the movie was made for the adults in the audience. In fact, I'd say there were at least three scenes that rivaled the first 5 minutes of Up: [spoiler] the cut to black in the beginning, the aluminum mill, and the very end. [/spoiler]

I'm also glad to hear that I'm not the only one who disliked Toy Story 2. The 100% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

"Remember when Disney was considered 'magic'? You know, Magic Kingdom and all. Well, Pixar is the new magic."

Definitely not a coincidence. Pixar reveres and imitates a lot of what the Golden Age Disney studios did, which is probably one of the reasons they brought back the theatrical animated short.

(Incidentally, Day & Night, the short that preceeded Toy Story 3, was simply mindblowing in its technique, especially in 3D.)

I really, really wanted to love Up, and it had some of the most sublime and exquisite moments seen in an animated film, but the [spoiler] slapstick talking dogs FLYING BIPLANES [/spoiler] really ruined it for me. It just made no sense at all, given the tone of the rest of the movie.
posted by archagon at 3:26 PM on June 18, 2010


Emjaybee: But I think it bugs more in Wall-E because we're being lectured to about trash, by people who churn out massive amounts of plastic kiddie doodads no less.

Well, Emjaybee, you've managed to make my inner child cry. Thanks a bunch.
posted by Skygazer at 3:27 PM on June 18, 2010


notthatgirl & emjaybee, the Pixar movie that is the most dark and horrible to me is Monsters Inc. The evil plot of the villains is to kidnap little children and basically torture them continuously -- keep them in a perpetual state of terror -- in order to feed off of their undying fear.

It's easily the most horrific evil plan I've ever seen in a movie.
posted by straight at 3:30 PM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wall-E and UP disappointed me. Both had their beautiful moments, but I think overall they just narratively weren't so great. Both are so MacGuffiny (must get house to place, must stick with EVE) and there's too much dragging us along, lazily yanking the goal back just out of reach over and over. In Wall-E maybe we want Earth restored but what we really want is Wall-E and EVE to be happy together. I'm not sure what we want in UP—the characters to get less stupid and more likable any time now please?

What really kills Wall-E and UP for me, and makes me not trust Pixar so much, is the creeping element of pod racing: fat slabs of action sequences tangential to the story, crammed into the plot where they don't really fit making the whole thing seem forced and fake. Pixar is good at making action clever and fun (their pod race would have been a million times better than Lucas's), but that's not the point.

Things I've heard about Toy Story 3 have mentioned how the action never stops and you think things are going one way then BAM something happens that changes everything, etc. All said as if this were a good thing, but it makes me not too optimistic about it. On the other hand, I do like escape movies, so hell who knows. Action in that context at least makes more sense.
posted by fleacircus at 3:36 PM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


For example, the simple question "Why would a civilization that could build faster-than-light spaceships and amazing sentient robots be utterly incapable of recycling their debris or rehabilitating Earth's ecosystems?"

To clean the planet was against everything Buy 'N' Large (the government) stood for. They could either get the public to stop consuming so much and pour their money into fixing everything, or build a spaceship of little consumers who would never stop and no mess to clean up. They bet that no one would ultimately care about the earth, not enough to change their lifestyles, and they were right.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:37 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


For it to work the way it does in the movie, everyone would have to be on massive amounts of brain-conditioning drugs, which would make the revolt impossible.

Also, um, they basically are. Food food food food food, all the time, and also television/internet/whatever that screen was.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:39 PM on June 18, 2010


Jonah Hex does for the western what the Crank movies do for the urban action film

if I thought that were even remotely true I'd totally be off to see it tonight.
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on June 18, 2010


notthatgirl & emjaybee, the Pixar movie that is the most dark and horrible to me is Monsters Inc. The evil plot of the villains is to kidnap little children and basically torture them continuously -- keep them in a perpetual state of terror -- in order to feed off of their undying fear.

It's easily the most horrific evil plan I've ever seen in a movie.


The City of Lost Children was first.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:18 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Though the things talking to things they eat vibe still weirds me out a bit, but hey.

My old boss flat refused to see Cars because, what the fuck, talking cars. Mr. F pointed out that Toy Story featured talking toys and they'd both seen that and he hadn't had an issue.

Old boss fixed him with a Look and replied that yes, the toys talk, but the R/C car only makes car noises, and that's all well and good, because that is not talking and as long as the cars don't talk, everything is fine.

Mr. F had worked with him for... 11 years at that point... and was still shaking his head and going "What can I say, that's just how he is."

If you've ever worked render watch, the best part of Up is the picture of Carl and Russell staring blankly at their bingo cards that scrolls past during the render watcher credits. It's funny because it's true.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:21 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


escabeche: I didn't know they were making a sequel until this post.

In San Francisco, they've got ads covering the sides of buses. If the windows are open, Buzz Lightyear becomes a cyclops. I've been wondering if that was intentional.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:28 PM on June 18, 2010


I try to like Cars, but it just endlessly trips me out. Has since I first saw it. I start the movie, and a million questions fly into my mind.

How are the cars created? Is there a car factory somewhere, or have they always been in existence? What determines what kind of car you are? Isn't it just a horrible caste system, where some cars are born Lightning McQueen and some are born cows (???)? Who fixes the cars? What happens when they "die"? When they take photos at the race, where do the photos go? Who builds the interstate highway that ends up taking over Route 66? There are male cars and girl cars - how do their relationships work? Do cars feel pain? Do they sleep in houses? Can they procreate?

THE QUESTIONS. THE QUESTIONS KILL ME.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 5:28 PM on June 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


gompa, love your comment but I sincerely think that "the vague whiffs of hyper-individualism that surround The Incredibles" was made up by a commentator.

Here's the sequence:

1) Some commentator makes an ultimately dumb but apparently 'intellectual' comment about film.
2) Rest of world jumps on and is all like "omg an 'intellectual commentary!!!'"
3) People with more than 10 brain cells and who have no incentive to promote the idea that all sophisticated-sounding movie commentary consists of Deep Thoughts point out that it's a stupid idea
4) At some point everyone calms down and stops desperately trying to show the size of their Thought Penis with respect to this idea.
5) Everyone who participated is secretly embarrassed but will probably never admit it.
6) Life continues as normal until next flare-up.
posted by cucumber at 5:47 PM on June 18, 2010


sarahsynonymous : a million questions fly into my mind.

All right, I'm here to help.

How are the cars created?

Answering this one actually addresses several of your other issues. Its procreation. On Cars Planet, the machine reproduce sexually. Hence the gender distinction. This also answers some of your other questions.

Is there a car factory somewhere, or have they always been in existence?

Their ancient creation myths involved car favorites, but they since have determined, through science, that they evolved from simple one-wheeled vehicles.

What determines what kind of car you are?

Genetics.

Isn't it just a horrible caste system, where some cars are born Lightning McQueen and some are born cows (???)?

Well, its more of a species system. Cow Tractors are a different species than sentient capital "c" Cars.

That said, there's certainly differences in social class, including a clear divide between rural and urban dwellers. There are also celebrities - particularly celebrity athletes like Lightning McQueen.

Who fixes the cars?

Other cars with medical licenses, provided the car has automotive insurance. One of the big controversies raging in the Car congress is whether to provide all citizens with universal automotive insurance.

What happens when they "die"?

Those that filled out donor cards before death get dismantled and their parts are donated to sick and injured cars. The rest are buried in appropriate scrap heaps officiated at by the religious order (or civil order) of their choice.

When they take photos at the race, where do the photos go?

Car newspapers.

Who builds the interstate highway that ends up taking over Route 66?

As we learn in the movie, Cars convicted of certain infractions are often sentenced to hard labor. Lightning McQueen was sentenced to merely pave a road; criminals convicted of more serious offenses end up building highways.

In the case of that particular highway, it was proposed in the state legislature as a faster way of getting from one urban area to another since the urban representatives and senators have greater sway in Car congress than the rural representatives and senators.

There are male cars and girl cars - how do their relationships work?

As well as can be expected when one takes into consideration all of the baggage that comes along with the years of gender stereotyping that run rampant in the world of Cars. If anything they tend to be a little more sexist than we are on human Earth.

If you mean "how do they work sexually," well, I'd have to draw you a picture and my ASCII skills aren't that good.

Suffice to say 'stick it up your tailpipe' is considered hardcore erotic talk in Cars world.

Also, there is some evidence that same gender car pairings (or even car/truck pairings) are embraced on Cars Earth.

Do cars feel pain?

Absolutely - especially emotional pain. For example, the guilt of abandoning a small town for the big city.

Do they sleep in houses?

Yes, but to us they look like garages. I think we see one or two in the film.

Can they procreate?

If they didn't, there would be no little cars.

---

Let me know if there are any other Pixar reality related questions I can help you with. I've thought this all through.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:58 PM on June 18, 2010 [24 favorites]


"car favorites" = car factories
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:00 PM on June 18, 2010


SRSLY though, electric lightning McQueen?!?!? THINK ON IT!

From the first Cars:

Filmore: What you really need is the sweet taste of my homemade, organic fuel.
Van: No, it doesn't agree with my tank.

(later...)

Filmore: How 'bout some organic fuel?
Sarge: That freak juice?
McQueen: Pass.

(later...)

McQueen: Wow! This organic fuel is great! Why haven't I heard about it before?
Filmore: It's a conspiracy, man! The oil companies got a grip on the government! They're feedin' us a bunch of lies, man.
McQueen: OK, I'll take a case.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:08 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


For those of you caught off guard by the opening of Up, well, I'm happy for you. Recently, for unidentifiable reasons, trailers and commercials for foreign films in Japan have pretty much ruined a good chunk of movies. Almost every ad for Up focused on the opening 10 minutes, which killed me, because here I am, hearing about how wonderful they are, and how no one expected it, and it was the surprise of the movie.

Hell, they even spoiled the one ooooh moment of Terminator 4. In the freaking commercial. I was blown away in the theater, but it would've been nice to see it without knowing it's coming. Gah.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:48 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I forget who it was but in an interview with D23 magazine, a principal on the TS3 team (which was mostly the same team that made the first two movies) admits they totally talked about how even Godfather 3 sucked.

They reeeally didn't want this movie to suck.
posted by Camofrog at 7:22 PM on June 18, 2010


For example, the simple question "Why would a civilization that could build faster-than-light spaceships and amazing sentient robots be utterly incapable of recycling their debris or rehabilitating Earth's ecosystems?" continues to bug like hell when I watch Wall-E.

We have amazing electronic gadgets from iPhones and iPads to killer airplanes piloted by someone thousands of miles away to music that exists entirely in electronic form. Yet, still the majority of our trash goes to a dump, our cars run on the same fuel as they did (only slightly altered) from a hundred years ago, and while one of those iPhones has more computing power than the machine that took men 250,000 miles to the moon and back, we've not gone back since. Society makes the advances in technology that it feels are priority. Note, in Wall-e, they actually believed they had the technology and means to fix the earth after removing the population. However, that plan failed, hence the execution of the plan for autopilot to keep humanity off in space.


I mean, human beings cooped up on an interstellar cruise ship for 7 generations? Where's the religious cults, the coups, the teenagers causing trouble by taking forbidden walks, fer chrissakes?

The ships were designed to provide everything that humans wanted or needed. Not least concerning the state of humanity prior to leaving earth, but the needs for rebellion, coups, or cults simply didn't exist on the ships.

But I think it bugs more in Wall-E because we're being lectured to about trash, by people who churn out massive amounts of plastic kiddie doodads no less.

I suppose they could have glorified the plastic kiddie doodads?

Questions aside, Cars is numero uno on my list of movies which made me realize, "Don't dig too deeply!" One of the few negative comments made about the movie, I think by A.O. Scott at the Times, was the fact that the world of Cars felt cold and empty for the lack of humanity and omnipresence of all things mechanical. It's definitely a strange world. Likewise, I loved Ratatouille because it took the world of rats and made it into something much more fascinating in the classic animated / literary tradition.
posted by Atreides at 7:39 PM on June 18, 2010


Okay -- I didn't see UP. But I've heard about all the big pivotal moments, including the one in the third link above.

I still choked up.

Also, after re-watching the closing credits for WALL-E, I remain firm in my belief that Peter Gabriel was fucking ROBBED at the Oscars for best song. ....Not germane to this post, but I had to just get that out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was that intentional? Was I just Dan the Man Rolled?

Oops! Meant to link to this.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:31 PM on June 18, 2010


Pixar's John Lassiter is a big Miyazaki fan, as I recall.

More than just a big fan in fact. While doing some reading on Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli as a whole recently I was surprised to find out that apparently Lasseter and Miyazaki are good friends. Whether this is true or not, Lasseter has at the very least been credited as an executive producer in the US on three Miyazaki films (namely Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo); he was also in charge of dubbing for those three films as well as for Tales of Earthsea. He's also credited as an executive creative consultant on Porco Rosso, so it would seem that not only is Lasseter a big fan of Miyzaki's work, he's also been in contact with Miyazaki from the early 90s at the very least.
posted by Inner Universe at 8:34 PM on June 18, 2010


he was also in charge of dubbing for those three films as well as for Tales of Earthsea.

... which is the one strike against Lasseter as near as I can tell because the dubbing, while not awful, dumbs down the movies. Better to watch them with the original subtitles.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:39 PM on June 18, 2010


Jesus Christ, what an epically fantastic post. .... ... wow.
posted by pkingdesign at 8:48 PM on June 18, 2010


George_Spiggott wrote: "I never cared about boxing but I liked Rocky I, nor football but I liked The Longest Yard."

So what did you think of Days of Thunder? ;)
posted by wierdo at 8:51 PM on June 18, 2010


oh my god you guys, the last ten minutes of toy story 3.

oh my god you guys, the last ten minutes of toy story 3.


My recommendation is to stay for the shenanigans during the credits, because you'll need the emotional palate cleanser.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:16 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Terminator 4 has an ooooh moment? Like one worth seeing the movie for?

There's at least one potential moment like that spoilered to fuck in the US trailer BTW.
posted by Artw at 10:30 PM on June 18, 2010


What are you talking about? Pixar doesn't do this at all. They get fantastic people to do their voice-overs, but they never advertise the fact. For instance, most people don't know that Kevin Spacey is in A Bug's Life.

Spacey's the 2nd credit on imdb. Also, Disney owns Pixar. So I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here.
posted by turducken at 11:15 PM on June 18, 2010


If anyone is interested in a peek at how comes Pixar is so good at what it does, check out this Harvard Business Review article [PDF] called "How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity," written by Ed Catmull, the president of the company, who happens to come from a tech background and not a business background.

It opens with:
A few years ago, I had lunch with the head of a major motion picture studio, who declared that his central problem was not finding good people – it was finding good ideas. Since then, when giving talks, I’ve asked audiences whether they agree with him. Almost always there’s a 50/50 split, which has astounded me because I couldn’t disagree more with the studio executive. His belief is rooted in a misguided view of creativity that exaggerates the importance of the initial idea in creating an original product. And it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how to manage the large risks inherent in producing breakthroughs.
His basic thesis is "chase good people, not good ideas as such, and treat the good people you have with respect." But there's also a lot interesting insidery stuff like:
The dailies. This practice of working together as peers is core to our culture, and it’s not limited to our directors and producers. One example is our daily reviews, or “dailies,” a process for giving and getting constant feedback in a positive way that’s based on practices John observed at Disney and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Lucasfilm’s special-effects company.

At Disney, only a small senior group would look at daily animation work. Dennis Muren, ILM’s legendary visual-effects supervisor, broadened the participation to include his whole special-effects crew. (John, who joined my computer group at Lucasfilm after leaving Disney, participated in these sessions while we were creating computer-animated effects for Young Sherlock Holmes.)

As we built up an animation crew for Toy Story in the early 1990s, John used what he had learned from Disney and ILM to develop our daily review process. People show work in an incomplete state to the whole animation crew, and although the director makes decisions, everyone is encouraged to comment.
Sounds like a pretty amazing atmosphere.
posted by skwt at 11:36 PM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I always seem to forget about Ratatouille. I had zero desire to see it, since, you know, a rat. Cooking. Talking.

Instead, it's probably one of the best movies about cooking and food I've ever seen. The bit at the beginning about food, and music, and how combinations of flavors can be new and fascinating creations is astonishing. Even more so is the visual depiction of how powerully food can be linked to memory, how powerful and overwhelming it can be. It's a stunning film that, in addition to a pretty decent story, is also an ode to the love of a craft. After I saw it, I felt silly for not wanting to see it based on the premise, and I was more than ready to see a movie about an old man putting balloons on his house and flying to South America.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:32 AM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought Wall-E mostly sucked. I was going a bit crazy there. I'm glad that Up and this new Toy Story 3 are so highly thought of. I felt so burned, but Wall-E that I just don't believe it though.
posted by wobh at 12:45 AM on June 19, 2010


Let me know if there are any other Pixar reality related questions I can help you with. I've thought this all through.

In WALL-E, the Axiom is sufficiently far from Earth for Wall-E to travel through what seems to be interstellar or even intergalactic space - for example, at 32 minutes into the movie is sailing over and toward a galaxy. Shortly after, Wall-E seems to be approaching another star. When we first see the Axiom, it is hidden inside a cloud of purple gas.

The events of BURN-E also occur on the Axiom at the same time as the events of WALL-E. However, the opening scene for BURN-E shows Wall-E touching the rings of a blue planet, stated to be 821,190,000 miles from Earth (1,313,904,000 km).

1.31b km isn't even a third of the way to Neptune, the only blue ringed planet in the solar system. Even if we allow that Saturn has mysteriously changed colour, 1.31b km still doesn't quite get EVE's ship there. If we say that Saturn has not only turned blue but moved closer to Earth, how did Wall-E travel through interstellar/intergalactic space without getting any further away than Saturn?

(No, a wizard didn't do it.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:07 AM on June 19, 2010


If we say that Saturn has not only turned blue but moved closer to Earth, how did Wall-E travel through interstellar/intergalactic space without getting any further away than Saturn?

I believe it was the giant eagles of the Misty Mountains.
posted by Atreides at 5:47 AM on June 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Such a fitting way to send off the Toy Story trilogy. Loved it.
posted by liquorice at 7:41 AM on June 19, 2010


I do enjoy much of Pixar's output, but I'm damned if I'm going to give Disney a single penny.

Except for Tron 2.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 8:09 AM on June 19, 2010


"...miles ahead of most of the preening winking reference-and-scatology fests DreamWorks puts out."

"...the trailers looked pretty terrible in a Dreamworks sort of way."


Yeah, yeah, Pixar can do no wrong, everybody hates Dreamworks, blah... it's so tiring.
In the interest of full disclosure: I do work for them (on the floor, just another cog in the big machine, not speaking for the company here) and I'm certainly not claiming that they haven't put out a lot of movies with a lot of farts and that plenty of them weren't all that great but that's not all we do and not every one of our movies sucks.
Not meaning to come across overly sensitive but when you spend years and years working on this stuff the constant internet hate really gets to you after a while (not saying that there's a lot of it here but it does rear its head on the blue as well).

Have you guys even seen How To Train Your Dragon? Or the final Shrek that DW just released? Those are pretty damn good each in their own way and, for once, at least in the case of HTTYD, even well received (HTTYD scored 98% on RT). Yet even a decent movie like that will be received with astonishing amounts of bile and hate by the online communities on sites like AICN etc. And of course almost none of the haters have actually seen any of it before they post. It's from DW rather than from Pixar and that's all they need to know. There's rumors that in the past test screenings of one or two of our movies had been done (prior to release) with the Pixar logo in front and that they fared considerably better that way.

Don't get me wrong... I love most Pixar movies as much as the next animation nerd and I'm anything but a mindless DW fanboy (are there even any of those? Seems like true believer fanboys are mostly found on the Pixar side of this issue...) or ultraloyal drone who loves everything my masters create. Quite the opposite. In fact I do think that most Pixar movies are better in terms of story than most DW movies. But it's just beyond me when I see people on a site like AICN shit all over a DW movie like HTTYD and when I go back from there I see the same people singing the praises of a Pixar "masterpiece" like Cars (which really wasn't very good at all... I mean, come on, seriously... can you imagine people's response to it if DW had made that movie). How about judging movies based on their own merits rather than based on who made them?

Well, now that I got all that of my chest I do feel a bit better and I think I'm ready for the next wave of Dreamworks hate when it arrives. And I'll be able to sit back and laugh at the notion that even if the only movie Pixar was to release in 2010 was a single feature length shot of a steaming pile of dung DW's HTTYD would still not stand a chance with the online animation crowd. (Or, for that matter, at the Academy awards but that's an entirely different subject...)



On a side note regarding trailers: for quite a lot of movies these tend to be produced and edited under the guidance of marketing people/departments and/or by external third party companies rather than the actual filmmakers/directors. As a result they're more often than not worse than the movie they advertise. Usually by several orders of magnitude. And for saying that I probably deserve a response from someone working in marketing about the endless hate they have to deal with and how not everything they do is bad... :)
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:20 AM on June 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I liked Antz better than A Bug's Life... but I can often take or leave Pixar films anyway. I think Monsters Inc is the top of my list, and I was definitely disappointed by Wall-E and Up.
posted by mdn at 10:50 AM on June 19, 2010


(I mean, I didn't hate them or anything, but they were just cute movies, not hugely meaningful life-changing dramatic blahblah... people got a little overexcited thanks to about 10 minutes of tear-jerking montagey stuff at the start of each film, when most of it was really pretty standard fare)
posted by mdn at 10:52 AM on June 19, 2010


I think an important difference I perceive between Dreamworks and Pixar is that Pixar's worst films are generally equal to most of Dreamworks' better films. Is that a jab at Dreamworks? No. That's my personal opinion. Dreamworks has released some pretty stuff (I've read that How to Train Your Dragon was really good - I just haven't had the chance to see it yet), such as Kung Fu Panda which is one of the best films to be made in recent years. Going back to non-CGI, The Prince of Egypt was a great undertaking and one of the best traditionally animated films of the late 90's. The Shrek movies, likewise, have been entertaining, but do rely a certain amount on pop culture twists. The Madagascar films have been fine, but I wouldn't equate them as being the best stuff made.

Then there's films that Dreamworks has churned out which is what I'd consider along the mediocre levels, like Chicken Run, Bee Movie, and Shark Tale. They weren't terrible, but they weren't very even or entertaining throughout. (I really wanted Bee Movie to work out, cause, hey, it's Seinfeld doing a comedy!) Also, generally, their made for tv stuff (holiday specials) generally fall short of the originals, helping to dampen the studio's reputation.

Dreamworks is definitely stepping up its game over the past several years and certainly isn't some hack outfit or subpar studio, even compared to Pixar. Frankly, though, Pixar is simply the superior studio, in part because they have an excellent and unbroken record so far on producing good films. Should Pixar begin to produce a clunker or two, the aura around them will diminish and the two studios will likely be viewed as on par.
posted by Atreides at 11:19 AM on June 19, 2010


DW is great, and garners much respect in the animation community. They produce more clunkers than Pixar, sure, but their best films are still really wonderful.
posted by archagon at 12:55 PM on June 19, 2010


You know what weirds me out? Stories about animals or inanimate objects that are sentient yet completely enslaved...the toys in Toy Story can apparently feel pain, for instance.

(Note: have not seen 3 yet, any or all of this might be contradicted by that film.)

It's not a question of enslavement. There are toys that don't like their owners, who even take action against them -- remember Syd? What toys have is empathy, if anything overriding empathy, which comes from being "created" (in most cases, this doesn't explain Zerg) by a child's love. The child may leave but the toy lives on which, in a sense, is a statement about the power of love. Empathy only goes so far though, which is why Syd's toys live in fear but eventually get fed up, but also explains why they don't take stronger action.

How are the cars created? Is there a car factory somewhere, or have they always been in existence? What determines what kind of car you are? Isn't it just a horrible caste system, where some cars are born Lightning McQueen and some are born cows (???)? Who fixes the cars? What happens when they "die"?

I seem to remember explaining this before, but I'll try again:

Cars is a meta-narrative. There are actually people unseen that drive the cars and live the lives. The movie cancels them out and presents the story as if their cars were alive. All the things the cars do, there are invisible people running around living out a different, but related, story. The cars are presented living their lives metaphorically. It throws in a few things like the VW Bugs and the cows to throw us off the track. (Yeah, there's stuff like the courthouse scenes and the promotional rally with Click and Clack. I don't think those people brought their cars indoors. They didn't all get carbon monoxide poisoning. Some concessions were made to storytelling.)

There has to be something like this at work because Route 66, an actual piece of American history, plays such a huge role in the movie. If you consider the movie as taking place on a different planet then it loses much of its emotional depth. (Don't laugh!)

There is such a thing as explaining too much. Remember the movie Robots? You do? It did explain all of that in the first five minutes and discarded a lot of poetry, in the typical Dreamworks style, in order to make a bunch of lame double entendres.
posted by JHarris at 1:49 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


DW is great, and garners much respect in the animation community. They produce more clunkers than Pixar, sure, but their best films are still really wonderful.

Good column: Shrek 1, maybe Shrek 2.
Bad column: Oh god too many movies.

Pixar isn't just the best animation company out there right now, they're one of the best movie companies period. Their approach isn't this bottom-line focused pandering crap that every other damn motion picture studio in Hollywood has become I MEAN SERIOUSLY A SMURFS MOVIE GO DIRECTLY TO HELL DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT YR PRODUCTION COSTS.
posted by JHarris at 1:53 PM on June 19, 2010


Just saw Toy Story 3. Yeah, they still got it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:16 PM on June 19, 2010


btw: if you think any Pixar movie is bad, you have no soul.

btw: If you say that anyone who thinks a Pixar movie is bad had no soul, you're an asshole.
posted by juiceCake at 4:15 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did Pixar make the INCREDIBLES? I guess I have no soul.

Actually, I guess it wasn't bad. Just enormously disappointing given what Brad Bird accomplished with IRON GIANT. Yes, as a matter of fact, I'm not that taken with digital animation ... unless it looks something like this.
posted by philip-random at 4:31 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If we say that Saturn has not only turned blue but moved closer to Earth, how did Wall-E travel through interstellar/intergalactic space without getting any further away than Saturn?

No, a wizard didn't do it.

You need to understand that both Wall-E and Burn-E are part of the creation myths of New Earth. Their stories were preserved for thousands and thousands of years - as revealed in the credits of Wall-E - because they serve as important reminders to the descendants of The Axiom to take better care of the planet.

Unfortunately, math and science weren't all that well understood by anyone on board The Axiom. When their children asked them "how far away from Earth was The Axiom," they only knew it was far away and would say things like "oh, it was like 800 million miles away." At some point, that number was fixed in the scriptures as 821,190,000 miles.

Modern scientists have argued that this is ludicrous for the very reasons you've argued its ludicrous. True believers of Wall-Eism insist that the planets have moved since the time of Wall-E. Scientists posit that those people are morons.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:49 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ghidorah: "Hell, they even spoiled the one ooooh moment of Terminator 4. In the freaking commercial. I was blown away in the theater, but it would've been nice to see it without knowing it's coming. Gah."

Like Artw said, what was the ooooh moment of T4? Because if you're talking about the whole "he's a robot" thing, that was spoiled in the main trailer here in the US too.

I would have a lot more respect for Dreamworks if they weren't milking the SHIT out of Shrek. The first movie was a pretty funny and clever take on Disney, the sequels have grown progressively towards pop culture, 'Scary Movie'-style jokes, that suck. The others aren't all bad, absolutely, but generally speaking Pixar has such a gold record that I will see a movie only knowing that they created it. (Kung Fu Panda and HTTYD are both on my watch list.)
posted by graventy at 5:18 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs a DW one? Because we liked that.
posted by Artw at 5:46 PM on June 19, 2010


Here's Wikipedia's list of Dreamworks' films.

Having just seen Toy Story 3 I've got to say it was a pretty good movie. I don't think it's the best they've done, but probably falls into the middle to upper half of their work. I enjoyed Up, Wall-e, Ratatouille, and the Incredibles more. I might even add Finding Nemo to that list.

The movie was well animated, be it from the lighting and directing, to the actual animation, itself. The use of 3D was done in a manner that didn't distract, but assisted through the addition of depth. The story was fairly solid and I never found myself checking my watch during a dull moment. I wasn't nearly affected as some folks have been by the sentimental moments (dry eyes!), but it'll take a heck of a lot to overcome Up's opening montage.

In the end, I give it to Pixar for pulling off a solid sequel. The only negative was the person sitting behind me who apparently lathers themselves in some kind of spice in lieu of taking a shower. Argh.
posted by Atreides at 6:28 PM on June 19, 2010


Just got back from Toy Story 3. The reviews are surprising, since it may have been one of the most tedious, uninspired and soulless films I've recently seen. I've loved every other Pixar film (Cars was okay), and this felt like Pixar going through the motions.

A major point of humor in the movie was homophobia, where an effeminate dresser was mocked and scorned (by both the other characters and the filmmakers). It was disgusting and made me think less of Pixar as a company.

Plot of Toy Story 3:
1) Toys Abandoned
2) 90 minute escape sequence
3) Sappy ending

That's it.
posted by null terminated at 6:32 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wall-E featured a female protagonist. Wall-E was not the protagonist of the film named after him.

Wall-E played the same kind of role that Charlie Chaplin played, which he called The Little Tramp. He's sort of a hapless, tragic figure in a way, and he inevitably screws everything up, but his heart is pure.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:43 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Plot of Toy Story 3:
1) Toys Abandoned
2) 90 minute escape sequence
3) Sappy ending"

Um, you could pretty much say the same exact thing about Toy Story 1 and 2.
posted by archagon at 6:46 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would have a lot more respect for Dreamworks if they weren't milking the SHIT out of Shrek. The first movie was a pretty funny and clever take on Disney, the sequels have grown progressively towards pop culture, 'Scary Movie'-style jokes, that suck.

I thought the first was excellent, about as good as it gets for animation aimed at children. The second was still pretty good, not quite as good as the first. The third I had no desire to see, and I did see parts but never cared that much. But think I may have to see the latest, at least on cable, and hope that will be the last.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:37 PM on June 19, 2010


But I think it bugs more in Wall-E because we're being lectured to about trash, by people who churn out massive amounts of plastic kiddie doodads no less.

"By the way, I'm aware of the irony of appearing on TV in order to decry it. So don't bother pointing that out."
- Sideshow Bob
posted by krinklyfig at 7:56 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs a DW one?

On Google, it was Sony Pictures Animation, who also did Open Season and Surf's Up.

I can't see whether SPA used to be something else that got bought by Sony or not.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:00 PM on June 19, 2010


Well, hell.

Spoilers?

The Japanese ad campaign for Terminator 4 blatantly gave away the T-800 behind the door with Arnold's face. Had I not known that it would happen, I would have been blown away. It was predictable, of course, but it was also the one seriously well done thing in the film. The CG of young Arnold's face was impeccable, and I didn't need to suspend disbelief, it was done so well that I outright believed it was Arnold, though I knew it was impossible.

I enjoyed the movie at the time, but good lord, it doesn't stand up to any kind of thinking about it. I mean, heart transplant surgery in a field hospital? In the grim future that knows only war, John Conner is somehow going to get enough anti-rejection medication that his body won't seize up and die? And somehow he's still going to be the action hero leader of the resistance? After a heart transplant? On anti-rejection drugs? It would have been better had they kept the alleged original ending where Connor dies and Marcus has his face changed to match Connor, and assumes his identity. It would have been marginally less stupid.

Great giant robots though.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:29 PM on June 19, 2010


Wall-E was not the protagonist of the film named after him.

You experience the story through him. It's his love for Eve you feel. It's his movie.
posted by Trochanter at 8:43 PM on June 19, 2010


A major point of humor in the movie was homophobia...

I think you're overstating things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:44 PM on June 19, 2010


A major point of humor in the movie was homophobia, where an effeminate dresser was mocked and scorned
Ken? You are aware of the Ken doll, right? I thought Ken was great. Clever even.
It's like he's made from a little girl's consciousness; what a little girl needs a male doll to be. Obsessed with Barbie and also clothes. And incidentally, that's exactly how the Ken doll dressed. My wife even gasped at one point, "OH MY GOD I HAD THAT SAME SHIRT FOR KEN." They could have made him stereotypically campy and that would have been sort of cheap laughs I think, because obviously that's what everyone was expecting. But the humour comes from the fact that he's a male doll for girls and is sort of defensive about it. I know the scenes your talking about but it didn't play as homophobic for me. But definitely fascinating with respect to gender identity or more specifically how kids perceive gender.
Having said that the movie was just okay. I feel like (as usual) they nailed so many clever details but I liked the little details better than the storyline.
My favourite is still The Incredibles. Then probably Wall-E and Up.
posted by chococat at 8:54 PM on June 19, 2010


I'll stick up for Dreamworks a little bit. My 3D animator husband dragged me to see Shrek when it first opened in our town so he could see if the 3D was any good. I was more than pleasantly surprised by it, it was fresh and funny and I told all my friends to see it. My husband thought the 3D was really impressive, and he's a Pixar fanboy for sure. I also really enjoyed Kung Fu Panda - it's a simple story but it was fresh and fun and pretty to look at.

The real problem with Dreamworks is the extruded film product they put out. Shrek is up to their 4th outing in 10 years, complete with insanely horrible marketing everywhere. I am actively avoiding it. Is the Puss in Boots one coming up a spin-off? Shark Tale, Madagascar, Monsters vs Aliens - fine, but nothing to write home about. The rest? Filler.

Pixar has a better win/loss ratio because they don't try to release 3 or 4 movies every year. They can focus their attention on making fewer products of better quality.
posted by harriet vane at 10:06 PM on June 19, 2010


I loved Over The Hedge and Kung Fu Panda.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:46 PM on June 19, 2010


Meet The Only Two People Who Hate Toy Story 3.

Until a few hours ago, Toy Story 3 had a 100% fresh rating on the review compiler Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a feat almost never accomplished by modern movies. The few other films to carry the 100% fresh rating all pre-date the modern era or they were reviewed by a small handful of critics, usually fewer than forty or fifty. Yet with more than 130 reviews in, Toy Story 3 had a 100% fresh rating. Enter two assholes.
posted by philip-random at 10:51 PM on June 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since we're on the subject of plot holes, here's something that bugs me a little about my favorite Pixar film, The Incredibles.

Given the film is set in some somewhere near the mid twentieth century, and the supers' relationship federal government, why is Bob put out to pasture in a series of soul-crushing jobs instead of knocking over banana republics in South and Central America? Same goes for Elastigirl.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, both of which The Incredibles borrowed from heavily, touch on this.

Perhaps Bob's a nice liberal who doesn't go in for assassination and sinking ships, so gets punished this way.
posted by Scoo at 5:01 AM on June 20, 2010


Armond White’s review is full of hatred, unfounded accusations, and condescension. It rails against anything which is popular and begs people to watch obscure movies instead, just because they’re obscure. He actually thinks Small Soldiers is better than anything Pixar has to offer, and that’s not just a bad opinion, it’s insanity.

He’s writing one of the only negative reviews of one of the most universally loved movies of all time, yet he can barely come up with three small paragraphs to justify his position. Scratch that, two paragraphs. One of them is devoted entirely to plot synopsis. He seems less interested in the film than he is in ancillary issues. He spends most of his review complaining about the film’s rating, an issue to take up with the MPAA and no fault of Toy Story 3’s. The closest he comes to a real criticism is in complaining about how much money the movie cost to make. Yet Cole Smithey loves Marmaduke of all things and didn’t seem to be bothered by its bloated budget. And he loves Shrek Forever After, which cost as much to make as Toy Story 3 but had less to say. He managed four paragraphs about that one.

Obviously from this thread, not everyone likes the movie, but these guys seem to need to have their critic licenses revoked. If I recall correctly, I think UP had the same type of concern about getting a perfect rating, too. Incidentally, Mr. White from above who thought Little Soldiers was superior also disliked Up. Meanwhile, Mr. Smithy did like Up.
posted by Atreides at 6:57 AM on June 20, 2010


Scoo: how do you suppose Buddy made his fortune? Seriously, when the military industrial complex figures out what happened to their one of their main men, Bob and his family of supers are going to be a in real jam...
posted by wobh at 8:03 AM on June 20, 2010


Remember the movie Robots? You do? It did explain all of that in the first five minutes and discarded a lot of poetry, in the typical Dreamworks style, in order to make a bunch of lame double entendres.

Just so DWA doesn't get too bad of a wrap, Robots was Disney.
posted by astrid at 12:27 PM on June 20, 2010


Toy Story 3 Trivia.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2010


Robots was was actually Blue Sky (also responsible for the Ice Ages and Horton Hears a Who), released by Fox.
posted by crumbly at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2010


Pixar's John Lassiter is a big Miyazaki fan, as I recall.

Okay, I'll be the first to point it out, although you can't really miss it if you stay for the credits. Bonnie, the little girl in the movie, has a Totoro doll (not to mention a 2006 iMac).

Nerd sidebar: You can tell the iMac is from 2006 because it's white plastic, not aluminum, but it's running Snow Leopard, as evidenced by the translucent menu bar, so it's got an Intel chip. And no, webturamaps.com is not a real website.
posted by designbot at 2:19 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Meet The Only Two People Who Hate Toy Story 3.

Thanks to them, and only them, Toy Story 3 now has a 99% fresh rating on RT. And they’re wrong. Flat out wrong.

People who care about 100% perfect ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are more annoying than people who ruin 100% perfect ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.

But add Jeremy Heilman to make it 3.

I read all 3, as I'm usually a contrarian, so I like to see how the other contrarians fly.

Armond White seems to be a bit of an idiot, based on his other reviews, and this one isn't much different, although I think there's actually a little less nonsense than usual. He admits to not "digging the toys coming to life fantasy." OK.

The Smithey article seems to be written as a parental guide, and the rating is based on the fact that the critic thought it should have been rated PG.

The Heilman article is almost as short as White's, but addresses some specific (and actual) concerns about the movie. His two main complaints are: 1) lack of invention/"it's a retread of Toy Story 2"; 2) the film opts for cheap fart/gay/ethnic jokes (I might say the same of the original). He gives it a 44/100. Rotten.

(I didn't read the blog commentary, but I'm sure these critics did it partly for the attention. Why give it to them?)

And it's down to 98% now. :(
posted by mrgrimm at 2:48 PM on June 20, 2010


Okay, I'll be the first to point it out, although you can't really miss it if you stay for the credits. Bonnie, the little girl in the movie, has a Totoro doll (not to mention a 2006 iMac).

One of the reviews above mentions it:

"Midway through Toy Story 3, Hayao Miyazaki’s most beloved creation, Totoro, makes a cameo appearance."
posted by mrgrimm at 2:49 PM on June 20, 2010


I can't be the only one who noticed that Andy's entire bedroom set was from Ikea...

(Wish I had some still frames to compare it to, but it seemed like a dead-on facsimile in the theatre)
posted by schmod at 2:55 PM on June 20, 2010


Is all of this something you must have had toys growing up to understand?
posted by philip-random at 2:58 PM on June 20, 2010


Have you guys even seen How To Train Your Dragon?

By my recollection, all of the comments here about HtTYD have been extremely positive. Which is to be expected, since in my opinion it's one of the best movies DreamWorks Animation has ever made.
posted by teraflop at 3:47 PM on June 20, 2010


The main thing I know about it are that the guys behind Lilo and Stitch are behind it, and that was fantastic.
posted by Artw at 4:06 PM on June 20, 2010


How to Train Your Dragon is entertaining enough, but it has too many predictable elements to get it out of the Extruded Film Product bin, I think. Chez fleacircus it gets a lot of bonus points for featuring a dragon that looks and acts like a big kitty, but I don't think that translates.
posted by fleacircus at 6:31 PM on June 20, 2010


I think Armond White is an idiot, but I'd just like to step forward and defend Small Soliders. I love that movie. It's not Dante's best, but it's a hell of a lot of fun.
posted by brundlefly at 7:00 PM on June 20, 2010


Is all of this something you must have had toys growing up to understand?

An interesting question when applied to another franchise, Star Wars. When I was a kid my parents surprised my sisters and I but getting a bunch of Star Wars figurines, which I adored. Watching the films now, particularly from Return of the Jedi onward, they are just so unfathomably horrible and having the toys as a kid has helped me understand that the films are little more than far less than after-school special quality adventures that might sell more toys. Only the work of Russel T. Davies rivals the Star Wars franchise in hideous narrative.

Funnily enough, I don't mind the animated Star Wars output. The writing is buckets better than the films, which may not be saying much but still.

As for Pixar, I couldn't get through Finding Nemo, loved Monsters Inc., vaguely remember liking Toy Story, have no recollection of Toy Story 2. Since Finding Nemo haven't bothered seeing anything else. This says nothing about the quality of the films, nor the quality of my interests. It's just the way it is. Archer and Doctor Venture I adore, Death Note, Ghost in the Shell. More my alley. I would probably really like the Pixar films that have been released since Nemo, but don't bother to see them unless someone says let's go see one or let's watch a DVD.
posted by juiceCake at 9:34 PM on June 20, 2010


I cannot WAIT to see this, and can't believe that on date night on Saturday with my wife, we went to see fucking *Killers* instead of this movie. That's what I get for blithely assuming that my local AMC will have all the latest and greatest new releases, I suppose. Dammit.
posted by antifuse at 12:34 PM on June 21, 2010


Update: I saw TS3 instead of The Karate Kid this last weekend. We don't see many movies, so it's important to pick a good one. I was not disappointed, nor was anyone else.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:29 PM on June 21, 2010


Did Pixar make the INCREDIBLES? I guess I have no soul.

Actually, I guess it wasn't bad.


It was bad.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:06 PM on June 21, 2010


An interesting question when applied to another franchise, Star Wars. When I was a kid my parents surprised my sisters and I but getting a bunch of Star Wars figurines, which I adored. Watching the films now, particularly from Return of the Jedi onward, they are just so unfathomably horrible and having the toys as a kid has helped me understand that the films are little more than far less than after-school special quality adventures that might sell more toys.

OK, first, I'm not really what you'd consider a Star Wars fan (never been to the conventions, never went to the theater to see the re-releases, haven't seen all the films, don't own any on DVD or video, etc.), but I did see the original trilogy as the films were released in the theaters. I saw the first one 11 times, IIRC, in the theater. In its first run. I think the neighbor kids and I went every weekend for a few months. I did used to have all the collector cards back then ...

The great thing about the original trilogy is that it's the quintessential space opera. I didn't like the last of the trilogy as much either, but the characters and the plot are very much of the genre, and not so bad, really. It's supposed to be melodramatic, and of course swashbuckling, because this isn't just about drama. But all the other films totally lost that feel for the space opera, the sense of high drama and lowest motives, and especially the swashbuckling.

It's not about marketing, IMO. I think somewhere in there George Lucas forgot what sort of movies he was making originally- he intended to show everyone how extensive and serious this world really was, like Dune or Lord of the Rings (the books, mind you). He never had the grand vision to pull it off and make it fascinating for everyone else (his vision ended up being so tedious and political at times). And his original inspiration, The Hidden Fortress by Akira Kurosawa, was a great film made by a true legend. Kurosawa's was set in feudal Japan, so he had some constraints, unlike Lucas. Maybe that is a factor. When you have no budget constraints and you're writing space opera fantasy, anything goes ... so maybe the discipline isn't there to draw a great story out of it.

But I still think Lucas' best film was THX-1138, way at the beginning of his career. He produced Twice Upon A Time, which was brilliant, although not really his own work.

/nerd rant
posted by krinklyfig at 4:18 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not about marketing, IMO. I think somewhere in there George Lucas forgot what sort of movies he was making originally.

And I think that was because it became a franchise, driven or at least influenced by marketing and merchandising. The first two films of the original trilogy were entertaining and I have no issues with the melodrama, and so forth. Return of the Jedi marked the descent into total mediocrity, worse than fan fiction I'd argue. Phantom Menace gets my nod for the worst of the lot.

Kurosawa may have had a limited budget, but he was simply a better director than Lucas (of course Kurosawa's output would be difficult to match by many). Star Wars had so much potential and the design of the Star Wars Universe is quite impressive (and the sound of the entire series is spectacular) but 4 of the 6 films, I find, entirely deplorable. Stripped of any complexity in story and character.
posted by juiceCake at 7:54 AM on June 22, 2010


Kurosawa may have had a limited budget, but he was simply a better director than Lucas

No doubt. But I generally do agree with you, had high hopes long ago it would be great, but alas ...
posted by krinklyfig at 2:42 PM on June 22, 2010


Continuing the derail...

Much of Kurasawa's early success was built around trust and respect for Mifune's ability to deliver the scene emotionally. In contrast, Kershner had to fight Lucas to get some of Ford's best acting into the final cut of Empire.

Bringing this back to topic, the character-centered focus of Pixar animation is arguably one of it's best strengths.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:16 PM on June 22, 2010


Bringing this back to topic, the character-centered focus of Pixar animation is arguably one of it's best strengths.

Agreed, and I find the Star Wars animated stuff, even though it's heavily adventurous in nature, has a nice character element as well. Not particularly deep, but better executed than in the films.

Pixar, BBC dramas, movie and television studios around the world, produce spectacular films that are either character focused, plot focused, or both, and these continue to thrive despite commercial pressure and influence. I find films that don't trust the audience to understand anything or appreciate quality rather annoying. Quality sets, sound, etc. are great and do wonders, but the story, acting, and writing are just as essential and can be sadly lacking in many blockbusters now and in the past.

That said, it's whatever one likes as well.
posted by juiceCake at 8:54 PM on June 22, 2010


Plot of Toy Story 3:
1) Toys Abandoned
2) 90 minute escape sequence
3) Sappy ending


Plot of Casablanca:

1) Noble Man escapes Nazis
2) Faithless wife betrays him
3) Second Noble Man protects Faithless Wife from Noble Man

Plot of The Searchers:

1) Savages steal Girl
2) Man and Boy search for Girl
3) Man and Boy kill savages and rescue Girl

Plot of The Gofather:

1) Boy goes into family business

Gosh, this is fun. I could do this all day.
posted by lodurr at 9:27 AM on July 6, 2010


D'oh!

) Second Noble Man protects Faithless Wife from Noble Man >> ) Second Noble Man protects Faithless Wife from Her [weak womanly] self
posted by lodurr at 9:37 AM on July 6, 2010


More importantly for Casablanca:

1.)Barrymore spawns "Shocked, shocked!" meme.
2.)Bogart spawns "Beans" meme.
3.)Metafilter born.
posted by Trochanter at 10:02 AM on July 6, 2010


but...but...it's a hill, not a plate....
posted by lodurr at 10:07 AM on July 6, 2010


...much of Kurasawa's early success was built around trust and respect for Mifune's ability to deliver the scene emotionally.

As much respect as I have for Mifune, I have to say that AFAICS Takeshi Shimura is much more important to Kurosawa's early success. In Scandal, Stray Dog and The Seven Samurai, Mifune's performance sells (which yes, it truly does) because he plays against Shimura. And a) I still think Ikiru (a Shimura vehicle) is Kurosawa's best early picture, and b) his delivery on the woodcutter in Rashomon makes that character the lynchpin of the film. I can think of few actors with Shimura's range or power, let alone the combination. (OK, yes, Godzilla. OK. So he needed a paycheck.)

[/geek]
posted by lodurr at 10:21 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Barrymore Rains spawns "Shocked, shocked!" meme.

[/film-pedant]

posted by lodurr at 10:24 AM on July 6, 2010


oops. shoulda checked.
posted by Trochanter at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2010


Lodurr: I still think Ikiru (a Shimura vehicle) is Kurosawa's best early picture

Fuck, yes! Shimura is stunning,pathetic, sad, sublime and transcendent. I can't say enough about it. If ever there was a performance that bordered on the supernatural, SHimura pulled it off.

And yeah he always plays these wonderful lynchpin characters in a lot of Kurosawa movies. He especially shined in the Seven Samurai as their leader. Also, saw him recently in supporting role of Kurosawa's version of Dostoevsky's The Idiot. Which has it's issues..one of the few Kurosawa films that does. Mifune performance of the mad jealous aristocrat is hysterically overwrought. Man does he chew up some scenery. SO unlike him I think...and the guy who plays the idiot, Masayuki Mori as Kinji Kameda, walks around like a over medicated zombie. Like I said, one of the few weak films by AK, but it's interesting for the way he adapts the book and just for the nuttiness of the leads. Not SHimura of course. He is the master.
posted by Skygazer at 10:24 PM on July 6, 2010


Paul MacInnes visits Pixar's Californian base to talk to directors and animations and investigate what makes this studio so unique
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:43 AM on July 7, 2010


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