Just saw Up (capsule review: Loved it!) and found myself marveling at Pixar's flawless track record. What is it about Pixar movies that works so well? I think it's because they take one outlandish conceit — toys come to life! A floating house! — and by the end you're a total believer.
All this animated thinking made me want to rank the Pixar movies, which is like choosing your favorite Dodger Dog (the pre-game dog, the third-inning dog or the seventh-inning stretch dog?). Very, very difficult, but I gave it a shot.
Please bear in mind that just because these movies are ordered doesn't mean the lower-ranked ones aren't great. It just means the lower-ranked ones are slightly less great. No one makes movies like Pixar does.
|I go to the movies to escape. And Monsters, Inc. serves up a fantastical world grounded just enough in real-world emotions to both thrill and move. An ingenious screenplay and clever character design help make it a masterpiece of imagination.|
|Conceptually, almost the opposite of Monsters, Inc.: A single whimsical element is introduced into a mostly realistic universe. And it works equally as well. The most adult of Pixar's movies says different things to kids and grown-ups. And it's a cheap way to see Paris.|
|Ah, the original. The ideal conceit for an animated movie, and the use of real-life toys as characters provides a depth that transcends any cynical product placement ploy. And those three-eyed aliens (above) rule.|
|On the surface, the most conventional Pixar work. Underneath, amazingly witty and chock-full of smart pop-culture references as well as human moments. And it has probably the best action scenes of all of Pixar's movies.|
|Only a studio that has had nine features with an average domestic gross of $220 million would have the clout to make its tenth about the adventures of an elderly man and a chubby Boy Scout. A must-see for dog lovers.|
|If its second half were as sublimely perfect as its nearly dialogue-free first half, WALL•E would be the greatest movie ever, not just the greatest Pixar movie. As it is, it's merely so moving you find yourself caring much more for the movie's robots than its humans.|
|Like Ratatouille, Finding Nemo contains different messages for children and adults. It's also the most visually stunning Pixar movie, as underwater colors are used to great effect. By far the highest-grossing Pixar movie ($865 million worldwide), and deservedly so.|
|Pixar's only sequel to date manages to capture the charm of the first movie while expanding its characters and situations in an organic fashion. If Toy Story 3 maintains the streak, it would complete one of the strongest movie trilogies ever.|
|Perhaps it loses some uniqueness points because of the similarly themed Antz, but A Bug's Life more than earns its audience goodwill with a strong cast of supporting characters. The circus scene is a true delight.|
|Pixar's first venture into machines as characters, and the experience likely served them well in creating WALL•E. Cars manages the not-insignificant feat of making car racing appeal to non-fans. Paul Newman's voice doesn't hurt either.|
My next big must-see: Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff. It's been a great summer for the Dodgers...and moviegoing!