Steven Greydanus isn’t quite ready to say that Pixar has lost its heart or forgotten its vision, but he describes what he calls the three ages of the company, centered around their relationship with Disney.
Those two years between 2004 and 2006, when Pixar hoped to break with Disney and go in a new direction, turned out to be a crucial transitional period. In 2005 Brad Bird (The Incredibles) took over development on Ratatouille, and Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) began writing Up. Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), who had been developing Wall-E since 1994, worked on the project throughout this period.
These three films — Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up, released from 2007 to 2009 — were all vitally shaped during that transitional two-year period when people at Pixar were thinking about life after Disney. And it shows. There is a special quality to these films that makes them different from anything before and almost anything since — an audacious, outside-the-box, un-Disney-like quality that defies all expectations for a Hollywood family film.
Early drafts of Pixar’s wonderful movie WALL-E were very different from the final film. The key robot wasn’t playing Hello, Dolly everywhere, but “leading a Spartacus-like robot revolution.” There was a Planet of the Apes vibe to the storyline, and the writers hoped to make the entire film dialogue free. For a time, they threw around alternative titles, like Trash Planet, but eventually they worked a fix for their original title and along with it, a better story.
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Pete Docter and others talk about their latest Pixar hit movie, Inside Out. Docter is the writer and director of this film was also a leading writer behind several Toy Story movies, Up, and Monsters, Inc. For Inside Out, he said being a parent played a big role in developing the story.
“That was a core thing throughout the whole film: Trying to tap into that difficulty — that kids grow up and it’s sad and it’s beautiful and it’s necessary.”
His daughter Elie inspired the character Riley in the film. She was eleven at the start. Now she’s sixteen.
“She saw it a couple of months ago,” Docter said, “and she said [plainly]: ‘Good movie, Dad.’ ”
Unkrich: First of all, we don’t make movies for kids, we don’t think of it that way. We try to make good movies, period. We know that kids are going to be part of the audience, and we have a responsibility to make it appropriate for them, but we’re not trying to create quote-unquote kids’ entertainment. Yes, I think a lot of kids’ entertainment has gotten more antiseptic over the years, and parents have gotten more and more protective — and for a lot of good reasons — but I think it has been too much.
When you look back at the origins of children’s literature and entertainment, you have stuff like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which are very dark, and they were about teaching kids about the world, and that there are bad things about the world, and gave examples of kids overcoming those bad things. We’re not trying to teach anybody any lessons in this film, we don’t have a message, but we do put characters in situations where they do behave in a very emotionally truthful way, and I think it’s good for kids to see something like that.
Time has a list of 10 saddest kids’ movies, in light of the minor-key note played by Toy Story 3. If you start with Bambi, you can click through the list to see trailers, clips, and explanations.
We watched Toy Story 3 over the weekend and loved it. It gets intense at the end, and two of my girls didn’t like that part, but overall it was a great story. All three Toy Story movies are good and funny. The latest edition is great tale of loyalty and purpose, and it’s moving because I’m sure viewers want to have real friends who are faithful like the toys are.