Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pixar's Midlife Crisis

A month and a year after my article denoting Pixar's claim to perfection and infallibility... the same article that said Dreamworks couldn't make a movie... (you can find it here) I am treated to a frightening prospect. Cars 2 is kind of lame... and yet Kung Fu Panda 2 is wonderful, joyous filmmaking.
That's Kung Fu Panda kicking Cars' ass...
What's the deal?!

It's not that I hated Cars 2... I whatever-ed Cars 2... I mehhh-ed Cars 2. I found myself caring less about Cars 2. A great deal of this, of course, came from the intense overexposure of Larry The Cable Guy...
Any Larry The Cable Guy is too much Larry The Cable Guy. This is the man who made a movie called Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector wherein Larry THE CABLE GUY doesn't play a Cable Guy... what??

Okay calm down.

At the start of the film, Luxo jumps on the "i" and for a brief moment I get excited. The image appears "Celebrating 25 Years" Yes! Sweet! I can do this. Then, Michael Caine!
Awesome. You make every movie better. Classic spy thriller. Ooooh, that could be wonderful.

But why did it have to be Cars? If you wanted to touch on this genre, just make a relatable kids film
while still including Michael Caine
that's completely original. I dunno, if I were Pixar I'd start thinking about having another one of those meetings where they plan out the next fifteen years of films... cause it's clear they didn't plan beyond that and they're suffering for ideas. It hurts to see, but we got lucky with Toy Story 3 and unlucky with Cars 2. Maybe Brave will be good (I truly hope so).

But then the fear sets in once again... Monsters University.
I may start weeping. If Pixar's regressed so far to think Cars 2 was actually a good idea, what are they gonna do to Monsters Inc? I looooove the original so much. I don't want to see it meddled with.

Here's my true fear. I'm afraid that Pixar has lost touch. I'm afraid that John Lasseter has suddenly been given the power to make whatever he wants but has lost the ability to fight for the best of himself. After so many years every artist goes through a slump and honestly he needs to step back and think about integrity of product because now Pixar films are being released and rereleased with the same brevity as the films of Disney's vault.
Many will call it good business, many more will call it a money grab.
But that's not the point.

If John (I'm calling him by his first name because he still holds a place of quality and respect in my heart) has become too blind to recognize the general outlook on the first Cars, which has been primarily negative by the same people who usually boast a solid love for every other Pixar flick, that he went ahead and made a second one...
and let's be honest, he made this flick selfishly because he loves real cars and wants to be around them all the time, so why not make another movie?
...then he could easily fall into a cycle of bad sequelization and meritless content.

Sure, the movie tried to have a message about big oil vs. new energy forms, but to be honest I still can't tell what that message is. Is it just that oil tycoons will never change and that we've gotta keep fighting no matter what? Cause that message was never really relayed.

And I'm not saying I need a message from a family film. Wall-E had enough message to carry Pixar the next five years. But I could use a little care when trying to introduce big arguments to kids. At least try to intelligently relay a message... "guys, corruption is one of those evils you will no doubt come in contact with at some point in your life. It's difficult to be the good guy in the face of corruption, but it can be done. Every time a person stands up against corruption and wins the world gets just a little better. But focus on the word AND in that sentence, because it doesn't always turn out that way. You have to pick your battles."

I don't want to say Pixar has become corrupt. That's not the place I'm coming from. I'm coming from a place of frustration because I know what these guys are capable of. And I'm scared. Because almost every year, since 1995 I've gone out to at least one movie...
a Pixar movie...
and found hope,
hope that entertainment can be smart and fun to every member of the family.
A Pixar film can bring imagination to a 4-year-old's mind
and joy to an 80-year-old's eyes.
It can unite families in conversation and give friends laughter. At the end of Toy Story 3 I'll admit I was in tears. At the beginning of Up I couldn't hold back either. It takes sheer will and love of the craft to attain such consistent reactions from people of all walks of life.

Perhaps they need new blood. After all, the energy comes from their ability to spontaneously partner together on new ideas... right? At least, that's what they're always saying in their documentaries. Perhaps, by bringing new people in with new ideas that can be shaped into beautiful works of celluloid poetry, Pixar can overcome the hurtles of this midlife crisis.

1 comment:

  1. Haven't seen Cars 2, but since I disliked the first one so much, I don't feel a need to. Still: bravo. I'm with you here, I don't want Pixar to just start cashing in on their glory days, especially since their glory days were as recent as March. Brave will (hopefully) be better; Emma Thompson always reassures me.