Growing Up Pixar

By now I am sure you have probably heard of Pixar’s latest adventure film, “Inside Out.” It is quickly becoming one of the biggest hits of the summer and is entertaining adults and children alike.

As I was watching “Inside Out,” I felt like I was more emotional than the children around me. But the movie did exactly what any children’s film should do: teach a lesson while making you feel joy, anger, disgust, fear and sadness.

That is what makes Pixar so critical to the film industry. Entertaining children and parents while also creating a conversation about life is something that animation companies strive for, but few do it as well as the Disney-owned company.

The film got me thinking about how I grew up while watching my generation’s classics. Pixar has made me experience countless emotions for toys, monsters, cars and, yes, even bugs.

With children being home over the summer, it seems like the perfect time to revisit these 15 adventures. Just as the classic Disney animation created memories and stories for multiple generations, these are the films that we will be showing our children and grandchildren for years to come.

Taking the time to view these films again will spark new conversations, and you will see exactly how “Inside Out” is the perfect starting point, as each film contains joy, anger, disgust, fear and sadness.

Joy 

Coming from someone who loves rollercoasters, the scene in “Toy Story 2” where the toys travel through the airport’s baggage handling system seemed like so much fun to me. At the climax of the scene, Woody finally stands up to Stinky Pete and decides to go home and live with Andy. As much as Woody wanted to make others happy and become a museum piece, he knew that life was not for him. Woody realized that he could choose his own path and did not have to give in to others who chose it for him.

The character of “Wall-E” has to be one of the best Pixar characters. He always sees the best in anything that life throws at him. When children watch this, they may just see a fun-loving robot that saves the day, but when adults watch the film, they are reminded that simple things are not to be taken for granted.

When characters stand by their decisions, as they do in the two previous films, it always brings me joy. So when Pixar presented “Brave” and introduced Princess Merida, a young girl who has no interest in boys despite her parents’ desire for her to marry, it was so refreshing and inspiring to see her fight for herself. When Merida declares that both she and the suitors should be free to fall in love on their own terms, it is an exhilarating moment for both adults and children. 

Anger

Often the most forgotten Pixar film, “A Bug’s Life” follows a colony of ants that fight for their land against evil grasshoppers. When one ant brings a group of ragtag circus performers to help save the colony, the following events do not turn out as planned. The circus ringleader, P.T. Flea, sets fire to the ants’ version of a Trojan horse—a fake flying bird—during the climax of the film. This scene teaches the lesson that you can never make snap judgments. Even though P.T. thought he was helping, he only hurt the situation and put the ants in more danger. While I felt angry with P.T. at that moment, I realized that I had made mistakes like that, and I learned from his mistake.

There is not a scene in a Pixar film that makes me more upset than when Marlin leaves Dory when he thinks that Nemo is dead toward the end of “Finding Nemo.” I understand, as I am sure most audiences did, that Marlin was just doing what he thought was best for him, but Dory’s heartbreaking speech made me want to yell at Marlin through the screen. While sometimes you can only focus on yourself, even in times of pain, you have to remember that every choice you make affects those around you.

In “Ratatouille,” Linguini, an aspiring chef who cannot cook very well, owes everything to Remy, an aspiring chef who can cook very well. The unfortunate thing for Remy is that he can only shine under the hat of Linguini, as he is a rat. When Linguini fights with Remy and forces him to leave, viewers get a taste of good people making bad decisions. As with the other two scenes mentioned, I wanted to hurl tomatoes at Linguini, but it also teaches how friendships can be harmed easily, even if that is not the intention. 

Disgust

For being such a vital character in two Pixar films, I still find Lightning McQueen’s personality quite repulsive. Sure, McQueen seems like a better person—sorry, car— by the end of “Cars,” but he goes back to his obnoxious ways in “Cars 2.” It all comes down to dealing with embarrassment. McQueen was embarrassed to be in such a lowly town in the first film and then almost ruins his best friendship in the second film when Mater cannot live up to the standards of others. Everyone gets embarrassed about something, but one only needs to realize that everything you are and everything you do defines who you are.

Speaking of defining yourself, Sulley, the furry blue monster, learns this lesson early in life. We get to see this transformation happen in “Monsters University.” While his attitude is loathsome when he first attends college, Sulley soon realizes that friendships are more important than social status. Many people struggle with this at some point in their lives, but while status can change easily, friendships are eternal.

Fear

How scared do you remember being when Sid’s toy creations are introduced in “Toy Story?” The baby head that was missing an eye and had mechanical legs, the pogo duck, the fishing hook with legs? Terrifying! However, it is not long until audiences learn that the toys are trying to help Woody and Buzz. While sometimes something seems scary, you may realize it will change your life for the better. There are fears when embarking on new paths in life, but what scares you can ultimately help you. Do not be afraid to dive into your fears.

Bad people can act terribly toward good people, but the villains never win. Pixar shows this most clearly in “Monsters Inc.” Even though Randall, an actual monster, is trying to extract the screams out of all the children in the world, Sulley, Mike Wasowski and Boo work together to stop him. At the end of the day, Randall meets his demise at the hands of a child and his family.  You have to feel for Boo, though; if there was a machine about to absorb all of my screams, I would be pretty scared as well.

In “The Incredibles,” Helen Parr—also known as Elastigirl—faces the ultimate fear of a mother. Helen watches as the plane in which she and two of her children are traveling gets shot down and they begin to fall to their deaths. In the end, due to her superhero powers, Helen is able to create a parachute and save herself and her children. But doesn’t it always seem like mom is there to save the day? Moms are the superheroes in everyday life. Sure, they cannot literally stretch their bodies to all shapes and sizes, but they are always willing to go out on a limb for their children. Do not worry though—if mom cannot help, dad is always there to be a superhero as well.

Sadness

Pixar is known for having tear-jerking moments in its films, but they always go on to show that a new adventure is out there.

It is hard to argue that the eight minutes that cover Carl and Ellie’s life in “Up” is not one of the most touching love stories to come to the big screen in modern times. There is no dialogue, just a lovely score by Michael Giacchino—who won the Academy Award for Best Score—that takes viewers through the ups and downs in life, and the fact that death is inevitable. While it is heartbreaking, the movie lets audiences know that new experiences happen even after a loved one is gone.

Another scene that had me sobbing in the movie theater is when Andy gives his toys to Bonnie at the end of “Toy Story 3.” We all have those toys from our childhood that provided us with so many memories and are now stuffed in the back of our closet. I couldn’t even think of getting rid of some of mine. So when Andy makes the tough decision to have one final play date with his old toys before heading off to college, it really strikes a chord about growing up.

At the end of “Inside Out,” and I promise I will not give any spoilers, there is a moment where Joy and Sadness realize that they can both have an effect on the same memory. And that is what is so important. As you have read in the sections above, there are many moments when you feel one strong emotion, but there are many other emotions that you feel at the same time. That’s life—an array of emotions.

I feel lucky to say that I cannot remember a world without Pixar. Yes, technically “Toy Story” did come out after I was born, but there’s not much a 1-year-old can remember. If you have not already seen “Inside Out,” I urge you to race to a movie theater as soon as possible. For those who have, no need to fret. Pixar’s newest adventure, “The Good Dinsoaur,” comes to the big screen this Thanksgiving.

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