Since they officially entered the animated film scene with a bang with the release of their first feature film Toy Story in 1995, Pixar has fundamentally changed the way in which animated films are made.
Pioneering the use of CGI and narratives that didn’t adhere directly to the familiar Hero’s Journey route, Pixar has perhaps done more to revolutionize the animation industry than any other production company in recent history.
Over the course of more than three decades, Pixar has produced countless works of film, including 19 feature films, dozens of short films, and recent ventures into half hour specials. Many of their works have received critical acclaim upon their release, and some have gone on to win the coveted Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
However, just because most of Pixar’s works are initially well-received, this does not mean that their merits and reception will remain forever untarnished. As it happens, many of their specials, shorts, and even feature films have aged quite poorly.
Here are the 15 Pixar Movies That Have Aged Terribly.
15. The Incredibles
Perhaps the most controversial pick on this list, 2004’s The Incredibles is a film that was beloved far and wide upon release, and is still loved with quite a large passion now by devoted fans.
However, in the current age of superhero media that we find ourselves in, we can’t help but notice that the satirical superhero film feels more than a little hokey in a few big ways.
At the very least, The Incredibles may very well be the closest we get to receiving a good adaptation of the Fantastic Four. However, beyond the incredibly clear parallels and liberties taken by this homage to the ridiculousness of superhero media, The Incredibles fails to make characters who feel unique or compelling in any way, with a generally less star-studded voice cast to back it all up.
14. Red’s Dream
Apparently, nothing says “entertainment meant for a child” like haunting clown animations and existential dread.
That seems to be the overall message of the 1987 short film Red’s Dream, which follows a unicycle named Red as he dreams of bigger and better things– namely, a career as a prop and participant in a circus.
Yet, once the audience is treated to the vision of Red flourishing alongside a creepily animated clown, the illusion of happiness and success is tugged out from under their feet, replaced instead by Red’s seemingly meaningless existence in the store in which he lives.
One of Pixar’s quirkier and more ambitious films by far, 2007’s Ratatouille is a movie that has a whole lot of good things going for it, but never really coalesces into one unified enjoyable whole.
The plot of Remy the rat who aspires to be a chef is original and amusing, tinged with idealism and realism and grounded by Patton Oswalt’s lively voice acting. His connection with the affably dorky Alfredo Linguini is arguably the heart of the film, in addition to Remy’s relationship with his brother Emile.
However, beyond these core characters, the rest of the film’s narrative tends to lag, with neither the rat family drama nor the restaurant versus critic arcs proving to be compelling enough to sustain the film for continued repeat viewings.
12. Partly Cloudy
Yet another short that tries to run the gamut of human emotions with non-human creatures, Partly Cloudy explores how babies of all species are made– and apparently, they’re handmade by clouds and delivered by storks.
The most unnerving part of the short comes when the main character, an unusual cloud named Gus, is abandoned by his partner stork, Peck. Gus soon turns depressed and vindictive, unleashing wrath on earth below in the form in a thunderstorm. Yet, even when he seems to have made amends with Peck, he continues to hurt him in some way, shocking him not with lightning, but an electric eel.
11. Toy Story of Terror!
When it was announced that Pixar would be producing short movies and televised specials about the iconic and beloved characters of Toy Story, it was a natural response to feel elated at the thought of having more time with everyone’s favorite toys.
Upon initial viewing, Toy Story of Terror! certainly seemed enjoyable enough, as it followed the toys through yet another madcap adventure as they raced back to safety. However, return viewings of this special reveal exactly why it was made a 21-minute television episode and not a feature length film: the story just isn’t good enough.
As perhaps the best short movie on this list, Lifted suffers from nothing but being surpassed by better short films in the time since its release.
Much in the vein of Pixar feature films like Monsters, Inc., Lifted follows Stu, an alien who has to pass a highly detailed test of alien abduction skills to prove that he is capable of taking part in the whole alien world. Of course, hi-jinks ensue, and poor Stu winds up crashing the space ship and destroying an entire house.
The short is quirky, irreverent, and colorfully made. However, as far as plot goes, it’s pretty thin, and Pixar has done far better and far more with shorter shorts since it was released with Ratatouille in 2007.
9. Tin Toy
Tin Toy is one of Pixar’s earliest short movies, and is also undoubtedly one of their most influential and captivating stories to date. Released in 1988, the short follows the adventures of Tinny, the titular tin toy who is a one man band and his interactions with fellow toys and a baby boy named Billy who reigns over the toys.
Without even explaining it further, it should be clear that this short would go on to become the main inspiration for Toy Story. However, with that being said, it’s also clear that Toy Story added to Tin Toy what the short film lacked: enjoyable characters, real stakes, a worthwhile plot, and far superior animation as well as writing.
8. One Man Band
Tin Toy was not the only Pixar short to find itself fascinated with the idea of the one man band, however. In 2006, they would go on to release the simply titled One Man Band in connection with the release of Cars.
This short, with a dreary grey hued Italian Renaissance scenery, finds two rivaling one man band performers competing for a pauper girl’s sole coin. The performers grow increasingly frenzied, tormenting the poor little girl more and more, until she surpasses the both of them by proving herself to be a more skilled artist than the two of them and running away with newfound wealth.
The overall message of this short is oddly dark and snark-laden for a Pixar short film, made only more depressing by the visual aspect of it as well. It’s unclear what Pixar was intending with this one, but it’s safe to say that whatever it was, it perhaps should have been kept on the drawing board.
Movies about dystopian realities, space travel, and robots aren’t exactly new parts of entertainment aimed at the young moviegoing generation nowadays, but when WALL-E was released in 2008, it became perhaps the first children’s movie designed to combine all three topics– and it did so well… at least at the time.
Ostensibly following the love story of WALL-E and EVE as they complete their respective missions, the movie truly serves as a thoughtful message about environmentalism and our eco-responsibility.
While all of those are great stories to be told in this day and age, the blending of them leads to a film whose tone feels uneven from beginning to end, even more so 10 years removed from its release.
Boundin’ is the rare short that is both visually pleasing, narratively engaging, and as inspiring as a five minute animation can possibly get. It teaches its viewers that there’s nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable in your own skin– it’s all about what you do with yourself when you feel that way, and how you carry on that matters.
However, it’s the introduction of the ridiculous creature known as the jackalope that makes this short more of a head scratcher than a guaranteed enjoyment. The story of a dancing sheep who loses his confidence when he’s sheared, only to find it again through a new form of art would have been inspiring enough on its own.
Perhaps for its target audience of young children, Cars is something that still holds up after all these years. Following the lives of anthropomorphic cars, Cars is clearly Pixar’s attempt to carry out the successful formula used in the Toy Story franchise with another subject matter, this time focusing on– you guessed it– cars.
There are even some entertaining characters within the cast, notably the dim-witted tow truck Mater and the egocentric Lightning McQueen. The film boasts a well-rounded cast of voices, including industry legends such as Paul Newman and George Carlin.
Brave, which came out in 2012, represented Pixar’s first attempt at a format that had long been tried and true with fans: the Disney princess movie.
However, with its heroine, Merida, Pixar took things one step further, ostensibly creating a more liberated female hero who refused to be defined by the prospect of a mate. Instead, she was driven by her own impulses and goals, and eventually her family.
However, in looking back on Merida’s journey, and contrasting it with the recent empowered Disney heroines such as Elsa and Moana, it’s clear that Pixar failed where Disney once again succeeded. Merida is often bratty and childish, selfish and short-sighted– and absolutely everything a hero isn’t meant to be.
3. Mater’s Tall Tales
In a film movie that grows staler with each and every entry Pixar produces, Mater is perhaps the lone shining scrap of metal in the junkyard known as Cars. It is thus the only addition that managed to add to the series.
However, there is definitely something called too much of a good thing, and that can be exemplified perfectly by the series of shorts known as Mater’s Tall Tales.
With the basic premise of Mater coming up with a ridiculous, nonsensical story that he totally believes occurred, each short follows the same pattern of increasing hilarity… without ever being all that funny to begin with. Oftentimes, the laughter is more forced than anything else, leaving the viewers wishing these tall tales were a whole lot shorter.
2. Monsters University
For years and years, fans of Monsters, Inc. were all but begging Pixar to make a sequel to the beloved 2001 film. Following the adventures between monsters Sulley and Mike and the human child Boo that is thrust into their care, the film is just the right balance of incredibly moving emotional content and downright hilarious humor.
Yet, rather than produce a sequel that continued to deliver on these themes, Pixar instead produced a subpar prequel, Monsters University, that only gets worse upon successive viewings.
As if Pixar wanted to make a typical 1980s coming of age film for children, Monsters University struggles under the weight of its own genre pretenses– and even makes matters worse by contradicting plot details revealed in Monsters, Inc.
1. Cars 2
As we’ve previously expressed, again and again, Cars as a franchise is terribly boring. No amount of hamming it up by the few characters who are entertaining can salvage the mess that this series has become.
Yet, Pixar continues to release these films, and they continue to do well. However, Cars 2 bears the lone distinction of being considered the worst Pixar film of them all, as the only Pixar film to receive a Rotten label on Rotten Tomatoes.
With merely 39% to its name, the movie follows the cars as they head abroad for a big race, and for some reason, Mater gets caught up in an intricate syndicate and receives a knighthood in the end.
Yeah, we don’t understand any of it either. However, with Cars 3 having been released only a few months ago, it seems that the Cars franchise isn’t slowing down any time soon, no matter how much we may want it to.
What other Pixar movies do you think haven’t aged so well? Let us know in the comments!
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