It’s not just about the best special effects with their movies.
1. ‘Toy Story’
Throughout Pixar’s decades of dazzling audiences with their magic, people have been mesmerized by how they make good movies – not kid’s flicks, just straight up award-winning classics. They’ve raised the bar in storytelling for many people, and it shows in the themes they include in each and every one of their movies. The best part is that they don’t make it that obvious – they can be pretty low-key.
The grand opening to Pixar’s string of cinematic success starts in a little boy’s room filled with his favorite toys. When they come alive, you feel engaged at just how human they react. Woody’s fear being replaced by Buzz Lightyear reflects our own fear, and eventual acceptance, of change as we grow up.
2. ‘A Bug’s Life’
There’s an interesting two-part theme to this insect movie. They cleverly used a classic story to get us engaged in the characters (a ragtag group of warriors hired to defend a village from bandits) taken from a classic western – The Magnificient Seven. What they use it for is to show how important it is to help those that need it against those that are picking on the downtrodden, no matter how hard it can get.
3. ‘Finding Nemo’
The audience starts on the journey of a highly distraught father. What’s more important is in how Marlin’s emotions towards Nemo evolves throughout his search. It ultimately becomes a story about dealing with fear, no matter how strong.
4. ‘Monsters, Inc.’
The day-to-day work of the monsters made all those scary things look so mundane. That’s how, despite Jake and Sully’s appearance, they made a lasting bond with Boo. More importantly, the fact Boo made that connection with a big monster like Sully showed that fear can’t beat joy or laughter.
In a lot of ways, Wall-E is the big finish to decades of anthropomorphic Disney characters. We have fallen in love with talking animals of all kinds in animated history and given them all a sense of humanity. This movie is the purest version of that – sure, it’s a robot, but you can’t help but feel like it’s one of us, even though it can’t speak.
6. ‘The Incredibles’
Conformity is something that inside everyone, and that’s how Pixar’s superhero family works at first. They try to stay as “normal” as they can be, but all it brings out of them is sadness. When they eventually let loose their power, you get the final message – don’t deny who you are, and you will turn out OK in the long run.
78-year-old curmudgeon Carl Fredricksen makes an outlandish house trip in honor of his long-lost wife via thousands of balloons. At first, his one goal seems completely off the rail because of a Boy Scout stowaway and other quirky characters but he opens up and allows them to become a part of his goal. We let it become a part of ours, in realizing that making connections to other people makes life worth something.
A rat with the ambition to become the greatest chef in Paris finds help from a bumbling human puppet. He evades capture, the disapproval of this family, and the severe words of food critic Anton Ego to become what he’s always wanted. Basically, Remy is a sign of howno matter what station in your life you’re in you can make dreams come true if you set your mind to it.
9. ‘The Good Dinosaur’
Taking away any jokes about creationists aside, The Good Dinosaur is an outstanding example of how Pixar puts together a good story. It puts together widely different partners with different perspectives on life on a wacky journey that changes the both of them. As they grow in their struggle, the audience connects and rises with them as well (It worked for Woody and Buzz, and it worked for these two as well).
Sometimes people don’t give this movie the credit it deserves and name the Cars series the least-good Pixar movies. That doesn’t mean there isn’t heart in each of them, like the first one for example. Lightning McQueen’s extended stay outside the racetrack tells us that there is a journey outside your regular goals that make life greater.
Pixar’s first Disney princess was a powerful landmark in feminism. For starters, it was the first time there was no romantic plot at the center for the female character. It also shows the audiences that it’s Merida’s strength of character that’s more important than her sick archery skills.
12. ‘Inside Out’
This Pixar flick is a cornucopia of allegories and theories thanks to the core premise. You have to admit when a kids’ movie is approved by psychotherapists you’re bound to get a lot of discussion out of it. Simply put, watching Inside Out shows that there’s no shame in experiencing all your emotions, just as long as you know how to control them.
13. ‘Finding Dory’
Years after they find little Nemo, the absent-minded Dory goes on her quest to find her family. Unlike In Finding Nemo not really about a journey or making peace with fear. With Dory, the audience is shown that someone can rise above adversity, especially if you have a disability.
The most recent addition to the Pixar library is without a doubt one that deals with the idea of family, culture, but most importantly death. As little Coco finds himself surrounded by spirits during the Day of the Dead festival, we are meant to think about what it really mean to exist after dying. Most importantly, we should wonder – what happens to the dead when nobody remembers you anymore?