Last year, Toy Story celebrated its 20th anniversary; the film, which came out in 1995, was Pixar’s very first feature-length animated film and was the beginning of a whole new era for animation. Today, nearly 21 years later, Pixar has made 16 animated features, and most of them are known for their great stories, memorable characters, and, of course, the humor.
Funny!: Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room focuses on a focal part of making an animated feature: working out the story and visualizing it into storyboards. And no Pixar film is a Pixar film if all the heartfelt moments aren’t complemented by hilarious moments that make the entire theater laugh out loud. In this book, we get to see how some of these gags we see in the films were created, alongside jokes that didn’t make it into the movies or ones that were simply too ridiculous to be even considered put in.
Each film starting with 1995’s Toy Story to 2015’s The Good Dinosaur has a dedicated chapter filled with sketches and storyboards from the artists who helped come up with gags for the films. A big chunk of the gags that can be found in this book are from simple story sessions of the story artists as they’re trying to figure out a film’s story or trying to shape a particular scene. When Pixar’s films and stories, after months and months of working on the script, take shape, some of the studio’s funniest artists come together in gag sessions. In these gag sessions, they all sit around a table with their sketchpads, coming up with gags and jokes to enhance the humor in particular parts of the film.
Even if you’re not a reader, this is a book you’ll definitely enjoy since it’s a very visual book. The book is page after page filled with story sketches with occasional clarification on how a particular gag came about or how important certain types of humor are used in a film. A lot of different artists get to speak so it’s great to hear their different views on storytelling and on humor in an animated film like the ones Pixar make.
The art – or in this book’s case, the storyboard panels – of the gags is fantastic. We get a great range of art styles and a great range of gags, sme that made it into the movie, others that did not. Sometimes a gag didn’t make it because it was eventually decided they simply didn’t fit the story; or, there simply wasn’t any place for them in the movie; or, sometimes, because the artist knew it wasn’t going to make it into the movie when he came up with the gag because it’s simply too ridiculous or inappropriate. While going through these pages, you can imagine the fun everyone at Pixar had when their colleagues came up with some of these ridiculously funny ideas, and you yourself with will be laughing out loud several times while going through the pages of the book.
Funny!: Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room is a wonderful book, and definitely one that any Pixar fan will appreciate. I feel storyboarding, and the entire story process in general, is very much under-appreciated when you realize the amount of work that goes into it; considering this truly is some of the work on an animated feature that we never get to see as it’s usually not included in art books, I’m glad we now have an entire book dedicated to even a small portion of what story artists get to do. This book is, in addition to very intriguing, just a blessing to go through, with multiple laugh-out-loud instances while reading. My only complaint is that there simply wasn’t enough, so we’ll patiently have to wait until the next volume. But, in the meantime, you have to check out this book.
Purchase: Funny!: Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room
A special thanks to Chronicle Books, who provided review copies of the book.
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden