Inside Out, Pixar’s newest film, is coming out tomorrow. You can read our full review later today, but the other reviews I’ve seen have been, safe to say, glowing.
Not that we expect anything less of Pixar, Disney’s wildly inventive animation adjunct. Ever since the studio blasted to prominence with 1995’s Toy Story, Pixar has churned out classic after classic. And here’s the interesting thing: Almost everyone seems to have a favorite Pixar movie. During the screening of Inside Out, I asked some folks sitting around me what theirs was. “Toy Story,” one mother said. “Finding Nemo!” her daughter chimed in. I heard Cars and The Incredibles and Toy Story 3 and Up.
The main takeaway, of course, is that Pixar makes some pretty good movies. They take on ticklish themes like loss and grief and turn them into compelling, freakishly enjoyable works of art. And their messages are so responsible that they even make the crankiest of Plugged In reviewers smile.
Nothing lasts forever, of course, and Pixar will eventually crank out something that doesn’t engender universal squeals of glee. (Some would say Cars 2 might’ve been Pixar’s first clunker, actually.) But today—just for fun—I thought I’d give you my own Top Five list of my favorite Pixar flicks.
- Up. With all due respect to Brave, this might be Pixar’s bravest flick. It’s a rare studio indeed that would feature a grouchy old man as a hero for its animated “kid” flick. Or that it would try to make its audience cry in the first 15 minutes. But that’s what Up does, and it does so beautifully. (Plus, the dog Doug is a hoot.)
- Finding Nemo. Even after watching it a half-dozen times, this movie just doesn’t get old. This charming father-son story is taut, touching and—mainly thanks to the antics of the blue tang fish Dory—laugh-out-loud funny. When I was at Walt Disney World recently, I regularly walked past a hotel decorated with the seagulls from Nemo, and every now and then they’d all break into a cacophony of “mine!” I giggled every single time.
- WALL-E. Only Pixar, I think, could take a musical clip from Hello Dolly!, an overcooked and emotionless musical from 1969, and infuse it with genuine heart and melancholy—courtesy a vocabularily-impaired robot, of all things. I’ve only seen this flick once, but just writing this paragraph makes me want to watch it again.
- Toy Story. Some people say that its two sequels are superior, and they are both great in their own ways. But I have a soft spot for the original. This was Pixar’s introduction to most of us, I think, and it still feels pretty magical. The interplay between Woody and Buzz is priceless, and the message is surprisingly deep: Buzz’s realization that he’s “just a toy” is something that many of us can feel when we realize we might not land in the NFL or on Broadway—but can still can have a pretty awesome, and even heroic, life.
- Monsters, Inc. Surprised? Me too, actually. I was pretty sure I was going to wind this list with The Incredibles (being the superhero geek I am). But remembering fearsome beastie Sulley learning to care for and even love the “dangerous” little girl Boo, and thinking over the (semi-cliched but very biblical) message that love and laughter is more powerful than fear, I had to give the last slot to the blue-haired guy and his one-eyed wise-cracking pal.
Will Inside Out land in this Top 5 list someday? I can’t answer that just yet. For now, I just hope I didn’t miss any of your favorites. But if I did, let me know below.