As a devoted Pixar fan, I’ve defended the legendary studio from anyone who dares thinking the studio’s glory days are gone. With Cars 2 being Cars 2, and both Brave and Monsters University being good but not Pixar-great plus the delays and directors being replaced, many are claiming Pixar is done. They are wrong. But recently, I’ve come to think Pixar is sick. Not dead, but sick. Let me tell you why in this metaphor/analogies-filled article!
We’ve forgotten how good they can be
I think both Brave and MU are really good films. If DreamWorks had released them, they would’ve received more praise than they did. Brave is a beautiful, intimate story of a daughter-mother relationship and MU tells the story of two best friends and how they got there. I always defend them from their critics. But then, the other day, I watched Finding Nemo.
Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln, that movie is good. Really, really good. For a moment I even thought to myself “This could be the best Pixar movie…” but then I remembered The Incredibles. And all Toy Stories. And Up and Ratatouille and Wall-E. For many years, every Pixar film you watched could be their best. I don’t think many people can agree which one is their best. But I don’t think anyone can honestly say Brave or MU is Pixar’s finest. They can be some people’s favorite, sure. But can someone objectively call either of those movies one of Pixar’s best?
The thing is, Pixar set the bar really, really high. Let’s think of Pixar as Hermione Granger, because Harry Potter references should be used more often anyway. If Hermione ever got an okay grade, she would be disappointed. The teachers would be disappointed. She’s the best at everything so she has an enormous pressure to match her own impossibly high standards. Teachers judge her differently. If Ron and Hermione submitted the exact same essay, he could get an ‘Outstanding’ and she an ‘Acceptable’, because of what they each are able to produce.
So when Pixar releases good movies, I think it’s okay to say they are a teeny bit disappointing. Pixar is still the very best studio there is, animation or live-action, but it hasn’t met its very high standards lately. For the first time in a tremendously long time, Pixar has no Oscar nominations. And many think that Wreck-It-Ralph was robbed last year when Pixar got the statuette instead.
I really think Pixar is sick. It’s no ebola or a flesh-eating disease, but they’re sick all right. Why else would they delay The Good Dinosaur and change directors? Pixar has always said that ‘story is king’ and I think they’re trying to go back to that. To put the story above all else. One year without releasing a movie? It’s better than releasing a movie that isn’t perfect. Pixar should go back to their roots: do the story again and again and again until it’s right and come up with incredibly original stories no else could or would tell.
2014 will be (almost) devoid of Pixar releases. Let them take this year to recuperate and reorganize. And then The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out will join the ranks of movies that can battle for the highest of distinctions: Pixar’s best feature.
Do you think it’s unfair to criticize Pixar? Do you agree with me? Le the debate begin! And long live Pixar!
Pablo Ruiz is a Colombian filmmaker. Movies like Toy Story, The Lion King and Aladdin made him fall in love with the art form and now he hopes to dedicate his life to telling stories, hopefully for Pixar (if they go back to doing original films).
Some of his ambitions are making a movie as emotionally impacting as Toy Story 3, meeting JK Rowling, and petting a million dogs. Follow him on Twitter (@PabloRV7).