Walt Disney fired a young John Lasseter when he suggested that the studio make an all-digital feature film, but after an Oscar win for the short Tin Toy in 1988 the new Disney regime of Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg talked to Lasseter and his Pixar company about doing exactly that.
What they created changed the animated film business. Plenty of more traditional animated fare followed with the likes of Hercules, Mulan and Tarzan, but not only did Pixar movies become must-watch entertainment it also spawned the creation of other computer animation studios like Dreamworks.
One thing to note is that if not for the success of films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast starting in 1989, Disney might never have been able to convince Robin Williams to do Aladdin. That film suddenly seemed to make it OK for big-named stars to “stoop” to the level of voice acting for animated films, which obviously led to the incredible voice cast for Toy Story and most every Pixar movie since.
For a bit more perspective on just how long it’s been since Andy, Woody and Buzz first graced movie screens, the screenplay was co-written by Joss Whedon. He would get his TV adaptation of his film Buffy The Vampire Slayer to the air a year and a half later for the beginning of its seven-season run.
Inside Out was released in theaters this weekend, the 15th Pixar feature and from pretty much all accounts one of the best of the bunch. That’s saying something, considering the roster of movies that the studio has put out over the past two decades. It sounds in part that it’s because this movie does what Pixar does when it’s at its best: provides something for kids and adults alike to appreciate and enjoy.
My wife and I went to see Cars 2 at the drive-in a few years ago, and while she enjoyed it well enough I wasn’t very impressed. Follow-ups Brave and Monsters University became the first two Pixar features I didn’t see in the theater, and I didn’t watch the latter for the first time until earlier this year.
Inside Out has me excited to go back to the theater again for Pixar, and it has inspired several reviewers and others to rank all the Pixar movies from top to bottom. But I’ve noticed more than one of those lists remarked that movies fell down the rankings because they hadn’t been seen in awhile either through indifference or not being run constantly on cable.
So instead I plan on going back to watch all the Pixar movies again and write up my thoughts on each. The exercise will likely result in my own best-to-worst list, but it will be having seen all of them in the recent past. I’m actually excited about revisiting some movies I used to see a lot but haven’t in awhile (A Bug’s Life is a perfect example) as well as movies that I probably only watched once to see how I feel about them now (Ratatouille and Brave would be two falling into this camp).
It’s pretty incredible to look at the track record the studio’s had over the course of 15 movies. Not everyone likes every movie, but except for Cars 2 they’re all generally well loved overall by critics and average viewers alike. So hopefully you’ll join me on this ride, which admittedly could take awhile. Considering how much some of the Pixar films have meant to me, I’m expecting a rewarding journey that I can share with you the reader.