Rank and File: Pixar Movies - Part 1

Ranking things is human nature, and I love doing it, so far be it from me to crap all over somebody else's list. Now, let's crap all over somebody else's list. Recently, Vulture ranked all the Pixar movies, and placed Wall-E at #1. We can talk all day about how everyone's entitled to their opinion, but come the hell on. They must be trolling us.

Still, it's not fair to criticize someone else's list unless you put your own out there to be equally mocked and nitpicked. My friend Tiffany took issue with Vulture's list, and decided to watch through all the Pixar movies again to put out a better ranking. I volunteered to join her on this worthy journey, and we hope to knock out all 15 in a short window, so that they can all remain fresh in our minds. The real fun will begin when she and I start to disagree.

We decided to watch the movies in order of their release date, with the obvious exception of Inside Out, which just opened in theaters. We knocked out our first double-feature this evening, so let's start our lists! I thought it'd be worth it to rank the shorts that opened for these movies as well, since they're often widely discussed as much as the features are.

Toy Story (1995)

The one that started it all. This movie got tongues-a-waggin', and it's easy to see why. It's gobsmacking that animation this beautiful hit the screens in 1995. Combine that with a well-written, well-paced, well-acted story, and it's no wonder that Pixar burst onto the cinema scene with such a bang. I hadn't seen this in a long time, but most of it has stayed burned in my mind, albeit mixing with bits of the other Toy Story movies. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are stellar leads as Woody and Buzz, who must work together to get back to the boy they belong to before he moves away. I had no idea that Joss Whedon has a screenplay credit on this until this viewing, so there's a piece of trivia for you.

Tin Toy, The short in front of Toy Story is akin to director John Lasseter's student film. That is to say, it's got some good ideas behind it, but hindsight is not kind to it. In 1988, the animation must have looked spectacular. Today, it looks monstrous. It's about a one-man-band toy who is petrified of rough treatment at the hands of a toddler, only to be miffed when the baby prefers playing with the box the toy came in. So while the "meh" may be understandable, given that we're holding it up to all of Pixar's grand achievements, it's still a meh.

Current Feature Rankings:

#1: Toy Story (1995)

Current Short Rankings:

#1: Tin Toy (paired with Toy Story)

A Bug's Life (1998)

Three years after Toy Story, Pixar came out with their next feature, A Bug's Life. Rather than using established movie stars as the lead voice actors, the company drew from the world of sketch comedy, casting Dave Foley and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It's half hero's journey, half Microcosmos, as a colony of ants enlists the help of an insect circus troupe to fight off a horde of invading grasshoppers. There are some truly delightful sight gags, and it's always fun to hear Phyllis Diller's gleeful cackle. That said, A Bug's Life depends more on witty and/or silly asides than on deep story, which is what Pixar excels at. It doesn't quite capture the scope of the miniature world, or of the characters who inhabit it. It's an enjoyable movie, but not a classic one.

The short really shines, though. Geri's Game is the simple, little, wordless tale of an elderly man playing chess against himself in the park one autumn day. He really gets into both of his roles, and it's a breezily funny vignette, which has some beautiful animation. Geri's Game won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short, and it very much deserved it.

Current Feature Rankings:

#1: Toy Story (1995)
#2: A Bug's Life (1998)

Current Short Rankings:

#1: Geri's Game (paired with A Bug's Life)
#2: Tin Toy (paired with Toy Story)


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