The quality of Pixars 10 films has never really been a matter of debate. Now at a film-per-year pace, Pixar has prioritized class over quantity, and a new film bearing the studio's brand is treated as an event.
Though Disney has only owned Pixar outright since 2006, the two had earlier struck a distribution agreement, and first released "Toy Story" in 1995. Since the delivery of that groundbreaking box office smash, the computer animation powerhouse has released nine additional films, while Disney has produced more than 15 animated films on its own.
With successes such as " Wall-E," "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille," which introduced filmgoers to unlikely heroes and immersive, unpredictable worlds, Pixar has so influenced the state of animated films that Pixar principals Ed Catmull and John Lassetter now oversee Disney's animation empire.
Since the purchase of Pixar, Disney continues to release animated films under its own banner, although a Pixar influence, it can be argued, is increasingly visible. It was nearly impossible to find a review of 2008's Bolt without critics comparing it to the work of Pixar, with many noting that it was good, but not quite on a Pixar level. Is that a bit unfair? Its hard to meet expectations when a film is being compared to a once-a-year occurrence.
Granted, Disney has released some flicks were all better off forgetting ("Dinosaur"), but also some that wed be wise to revisit ("Treasure Planet") and some that are already considered classics ("Lilo and Stitch"). So lets take a closer look at what Disney has accomplished when working outside the Pixar umbrella and see how it ranks in the Pixar oeuvre.
Compiled by Todd Martens, Jevon Phillips, Hanh Nguyen, Emily Christianson and Patrick Day
When it comes to study, Sulley isn't interested. The only class that matters to Mike is the one that will put him on track for the prized scare degree. He wants to be one of those guys who walks through the door to the human world and into kids' dreams. The one who can put the scare meter into the red zone.
The action turns on MU's fabled Scare Games — like the Hunger Games, except no one dies or worries about dinner. Who will win: the big monsters on campus or the little guys?
In addition to the predictability of that scenario, the college pranks — where the film could have had some major fun — lack much invention. A stolen mascot? Really? Yes, it's a monster, but then aren't they all?
Ultimately, the movie is about friendships and loyalties. All are tested in the usual ways. The buddy bonding that should be tugging the heartstrings right about now doesn't have much pull. And the "rah, rah" marching band music is downright irritating — and dated.
That sour note is surprising in a genre that has distinguished itself for showcasing great tunes. More confounding, the brilliant Randy Newman composed the score and conducted. Maybe he had a bad day.
MPAA rating: G
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Playing: In general release