Our Favorite and Least Favorite Pixar Feature Films

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With the release of Toy Story 4, our Cinelinx contributors discuss their favorite and least favorite Pixar films so far.

The original Toy Story was a groundbreaking achievement which forever changed the face of cinema. As the first ever 3D computer-animated feature film, it was the culmination of more than 20 years of research and development. More than just a technological benchmark, it was a heartwarming and adventurous tale told in a way unlike audiences had seen before. At the box office it was a huge hit with both kids and adults. The film’s success opened up the door for not only more Pixar computer-animated films, but also opportunities for competitors to produce similar films.

Twenty four years later, the Toy Story saga continues with a third sequel. Pixar is as strong as ever and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. While the original Toy Story film established Pixar on the scene, subsequent releases made Pixar into a juggernaut of the industry and the king of computer-animated features. For a period of time, it seemed Pixar could do no wrong. But increased competition, technological proliferation, and changing leadership have all been significant challenges to the king’s throne. To honor all of the ups and downs of Pixar over the years, we asked our contributors to name their favorite and least favorite Pixar films. See our discussion below!

OUR FAVORITE PIXAR FILMS

Garrett – Alright, I’ll start us off. My favorite Pixar film is WALL-E. Every time I see it on TV I have to stop and watch it just because it is so much fun. That’s what I think Pixar does best – they take a serious topic, in this case the environment and future of mankind, and make it exciting and thrilling. The science fiction setting only adds to the possibilities of what they can do with their story, and certainly introduces an element of inspirational wonder.

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Becky- My favorite Pixar film has to be The Incredibles. I love how the film takes the idea of superheroes saving the world and turns it on its head by having the superheroes get sued and they all end up retiring and going into hiding. Fast forward a number of years and it’s fascinating to see how a family with superpowers is attempting to cope with a world that demands normalcy. It all feels extremely believable, especially the introduction of Syndrome as a supervillain who started out as a superhero-worshipping fan boy. It’s also really great to watch Violet and Dash come into their own as young superheroes. And the revelation that Jack-Jack DOES in fact have powers is one of the best twists in the entire film. The Incredibles may be 15 years old, but it still holds up today and I love it.

Garrett – Animated film/television has always worked well for comic books because the lack of restriction associated with having to make it seem real. Pixar takes this opportunity with The Incredibles and runs with it, and then the vivid 3D animation just takes it to a whole new level. I also dig the 60’s James Bond-esque vibe. It adds a certain cool factor we hadn’t really seen in the mainstream superhero movies to date.

Jordan – I love The Incredibles and it’s one of the films that only seems to get better the more you watch it. That said, however, I gotta go with Finding Nemo or Inside Out as my favorites. Toy Story was my favorite for the longest time, but those two are films that manage to hook me on an emotional level like none of their others do. Despite Inside Out being relatively new, I think it’ll be one of the Pixar films we talk about most in 10-20 years.

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While I’m at it…I won’t say this is a “favorite” per se, but I think Good Dinosaur is criminally overlooked. It’s biggest problem was coming out months after the amazingness of Inside Out. It’s still one of their most impressively animated films and it’s a world I still want them to explore.

GarrettInside Out is such a great film because it was so ambitious. I mean it covers a topic (metal health, growing up, and the workings of the mind) which is not easy to do in any film, let alone a kids movie. This topic is so far outside of what we would consider the ‘norm’ for a typical kids movie that it grabs our attention.

Inside our own minds is an entire new universe for us to explore with all sorts of possibilities. But at the same time it is something inherently familiar to all of us. Its that personal connection with the audience which makes the best Pixar movies work. Inside Out teaches kids about ourselves (but in a very fun and captivating way!). Jordan’s right – that makes it a standout we won’t soon forget.

BOLTZ My favorite Pixar film of all time is the original, the one that started it all Toy Story. I still remember seeing this in theaters and then owning it on VHS. As a kid seeing a movie where the toys come to life and live in their own separate world was awesome.

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With that being said, Toy Story had it all. Even though Toy Story is about the secret lives and world of these toys, it has a nice human element. Andy is this young boy with an incredible imagination who loves his toys, bringing them to life in his own way. He especially loves Woody. Woody had it all, the spot on the bed where all the other toys admired him and looked up to him.

Then one birthday it all came crashing down. A shiny new state-of-the-art-more-buttons and-gadgets toy came into the picture; Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger. He also glows in the dark and has wings. From this point, Woody’s world is turned upside down.

As the movie goes on it has so many teachable moments for young kids. From the ups where Woody and Buzz finally become friends to the downs where all Woody’s friends abandon him because they think he got rid of Buzz. You’ll laugh, maybe even shed a little tear of sadness or joy, who knows. Toy Story wiill definitely go down in history as one the greatest.

Katy – Picking a favorite is so difficult because so many Pixar movies have been a comfort to me in trying times, so, after narrowing it down between The Incredibles and WALL-E, I have to admit that the little robot stole my heart from the first preview I saw.

I’m not sure how, but I caught a sneak peek (literally a short with no date, no information) for WALL-E during the previews to see Ratatouille in 2007. I was obsessed with learning more about the adorable little robot, but there was no information about the film online. I vividly remember seeing the first trailer for the film sometime later and being over the moon that I finally could anticipate seeing it and I was not disappointed.

The first half of the movie showcases how dynamic the narrative is despite a lack of dialogue, while slowly rolling the viewer into a series of revelations about why Earth is desolate in the 29th century and the many ways humanity has been threatened (and how many of those are threats we face today).

WALL-E begins as an engaging and charming slice of life view that flips upside down and flies straight into outerspace in an attempt to remind us of our humanity. Plus, it manages to make having a pet cockroach seem almost… adorable. That has to count towards the “best of” title, doesn’t it?

OUR LEAST FAVORITE PIXAR FILMS

Garrett – I’ll be honest, Monsters University was the Pixar film which left me the most disappointed. I loved the original Monsters Inc. film, but never thought it needed a sequel/prequel. When Pixar made one, it took the form of a frat house comedy, playing off the tropes of the sub genre.

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The world of Monsters, Inc. is so diverse and full of possibilities, and this is what they came up with? Rather than pushing the boundaries, this film felt like Pixar taking it safe – relying on a formulaic plot for the foundation of a prequel (prequels rarely excite me anyway) rather than exploring the characters further after the events in the original film.

BOLTZ- I have to agree. Monsters University just didn’t offer anything. Monsters Inc. was so original, a world of monsters. Monsters University lacked so much, from an original story line to just a bland movie with no spunk. Also there was no Boo!

Jordan – It’s funny because I have the opposite experience with Monsters University. I loved the original Monsters, Inc (often listing it as one of my all-time favorites depending on the day), and was pretty opposed to the idea of this movie. I really fell in love with it though when it hit theaters and it’s something I still watch with the kids at home…Literally the other day!

Katy – I’m with Jordan here, I enjoyed Monster’s University and felt like it was a fun return to the world. It isn’t the strongest sequel among Pixar films, but in my opinion it is miles above the subsequent Cars movies.

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Rob –  Cars. I know I watched the movie once but I honestly couldn’t tell you one thing about it. Why it went on for three films I have no idea. One was good they could have stopped there. Heck, they could have just said, “ya know what let’s not do this one and just put it on a shelf of things that will never see the light of day.”

Garrett – Yeah, I mean the Toy Story films more than satisfied my requirement for inanimate-objects-come-to-life movies.

Jordan – I enjoyed Cars and thought it was fun (though it lost a lot of luster since it was my son’s go-to movie as a toddler). The sequels, however, are just not good. Worse, they evoke the memories of the bad direct-to-video Disney sequels Pixar swore to never fall prey to. Three was a step up over Cars 2, but that’s still not saying much.

What are your favorite and least favorite Pixar films? Join the discussion on Twitter: @cinelinx