Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Riske Business: What is Happening to Pixar?
Coming off of two straight duds (Cars 2, Brave), Disney-Pixar has a lot riding on this week’s Monsters University. Maybe not financially – their last two movies cleaned up – but in terms of quality, they have something to prove. The early reviews are saying their latest is an improvement but not quite up to the gold standard of Pixar’s insane hot streak that began in 1995 with Toy Story and dried up after Toy Story 3 in 2010. I sure hope that’s the case. It’s been depressing to see Pixar shit the bed in the past few years. Sadly, though, I think Pixar’s golden era is over.
It gets even more manufactured in the slate after 2013. In 2014, Pixar releases The Good Dinosaur, because kids want dino toys as much as they want cars toys (but at least it’s an original story). After that it's Finding Dory, an unnecessary sequel to Finding Nemo, because now there are new kids to buy fishy toys. Do you ever wonder why there hasn’t been a sequel to The Incredibles, arguably the Disney-Pixar movie most appropriate for a sequel? Because it hasn’t been 10 years yet. There are no new kids to whom we can sell toys.
Short digression: I saw Brave about a week after it came out and I was the only person in the entire theater. The day after I saw the movie, the theater closed for business. Coincidence? Yes, but for the sake of the story, Brave is a movie so bad it broke a movie theater.
What can Pixar do to reinvigorate themselves creatively? If I had my druthers, I would challenge them to re-launch hand-drawn animation. I feel bad for kids today that won’t learn to appreciate vivid, warm and gorgeous hand-drawn animation. I know The Princess and the Frog was a disappointment, but if at first you don’t succeed…something something try again. (It’s been a long time, we shouldn’t have left you without a dope beat to step to..step to..step to..step to..step to..step to..wicky wicky wicky).
In closing, I found a quote from John Lasseter about family movies and his pride in Pixar. It now reads as ironic – you become the things you once mocked:
“Let me tell you a funny story. I took the family to see this film one weekend -- I'll go to see almost any film that's good for the whole family. And so we're sitting there watching this film, which I won't name, and there are long stretches that are just not very entertaining. My little son -- he was probably 6 at the time -- was sitting next to me, and right in the middle of this dull section, he turns to me and says, 'Dad? How many letters are in my name?' I must have laughed for five minutes. I thought, Oh, man, this movie has lost this little boy. His mind has been wandering, trying to figure out how many letters there are in his name. So I told my wife, Nancy, what he said, and she started laughing, and then the story went down the row through my whole family, our four other sons, and we're sitting there as a family giggling and laughing. And I thought to myself, if ever a child anywhere in the world leans over to their daddy during one of my movies and asks, 'How many letters are in my name?' I'll quit.”
Do you think Pixar can rebound? What are your favorite Pixar movies?
Adam’s Top 10 Pixar Movies
2. Toy Story
3. Finding Nemo
5. Toy Story 2
7. Toy Story 3
8. The Incredibles
9. Monsters Inc.
10. A Bug’s Life