#Cars3 marks the 18th film collaboration between two of the greatest studios in the business today; Disney and Pixar. These two powerhouses all started with 1995’s Toy Story and they haven’t slowed down since. The #Disney and #Pixar brands have brought audiences some of the greatest animated films of all time. When they come together, they easily become a one-two punch and send audiences home from the theater with a big smile on their face. •But what is it that Disney•Pixar does so well? Why are these films so memorable that people cannot stop talking about them?
A Simplistic Idea Turns Into A Feature Film
One of the major reasons why Disney•Pixar has had tremendous success is mostly do to the storytelling. For a film to become successful, the story must first engage the audience. Take the #ToyStory movies for example. The generic idea of this franchise tells what happens if toys too had feelings and were actually alive. The story is further expanded when a toy named Buzz Lightyear believes he actually is part of Star Command and must protect the planet from the evil Emperor Zurg. It allows the audience to see the other side of things and enables the writers to get more creative with their work.
Monsters Inc. took the core concept of monsters living in people’s closets and putting its own spin in a feature length film. This idea only grew from there as we learn that the monsters have their own world and style of living where they rely on children’s screams to power their city. That basic story eventually turned into a monster named Sully who discovers his softer side after meeting a young human he names Boo.
These are just a few prime examples as to how Disney and Pixar are able to take the most basic story points, and conjure up a compelling story for audiences to follow.
The Films All Have Deeper Meanings
“The main character is like a surrogate for you, the audience member. They’re learning and discovering information at the same time you are, so that by the time the film ends, you feel like you’ve gone on the same emotional journey the character has.” –Pete Docter
That quote from Pete Docter (Director/Animator) is the definition of what a Disney•Pixar film truly is. Sure each and every one of the films have their own distinct flavor and story structure, but deep down they all have a core meaning. If there’s one thing you can take away from any Disney•Pixar film, it’s the underlying themes that make these films great.
Finding Nemo isn’t just a story about a dad trying to find his lost son. It’s also about the concept of parenthood. After Nemo is captured, Marlin does what any caring parent would do and goes searching for his missing son risking his own life in the process. Even before Nemo was captured, Marlin was so hesitant on letting his son make his own decisions that he never lets him go anywhere. We as an audience know why because Nemo is the only family he has left.
It’s not until the very end of the movie when Marlin lets go of his own paranoia that enables him to realize that Nemo must be allowed to make decisions on his own. Nemo is also able to understand that his dad always cared about him because he was doing all of this out of love. The usual parent and child conflicts are prevalent in this movie and are what makes this film so memorable.
Like Finding Nemo, the other Disney•Pixar films also have many underlying messages. The Incredibles deals with family life with a superhero twist to it; Inside Out involves a girl going through life as a teenager and having to cope with moving; and UP shows us the journey a man must take to accept his wife’s death. All of these elements define what the Disney•Pixar films are made of. They’re not just to tell a good story, but to teach us life lessons that can be attributed to our daily lives.
They Have An Emotional Impact
Besides the storytelling, Disney•Pixar knows how to hit us emotionally. How many of you can name a film that made you teary-eyed in the opening of a film? Up is of course the prime example here as we are sucked into a story full of love, hope, and tragedy:
Carl and Ellie go through a lot together and have to deal with some of life’s most unfortunate circumstances. While starting to save up on their trip to Paradise Falls, the two are forced to spending their money on more pressing needs.
Life hits them even harder when Ellie learns that she has a miscarriage and is unable to have children. The story of just the two of them continue until we learn that Ellie becomes ill and dies. The loss of Carl’s wife hurts us even more knowing how much the two have gone through and is where the story picks up and takes audiences on a new adventure.
Some of the other emotional gut punches that Disney and Pixar are so great at include the ending of Toy Story 3 when Andy passes his toys over to Bonnie or in Toy Story 2 when Jessie sings “When She Loved Me.” Another scene that always resonated with me was when Sully had to say his goodbyes to Boo in Monsters Inc.
These scenes have such an emotional impact on audiences that they are usually brought up in many discussions. Even if you’re one of those people who don’t get emotional in films, Disney and Pixar will find a way to make you cry. But the main thing to take away from this is that they make sure that the scene serves the story.
The Film Score’s Cannot Be Overlooked
What’s Star Wars without John Williams’s iconic musical score? How could we forget Marty McFly’s travel back to the future without Alan Silvestri’s score blasting in the background? The same can be said for the Disney•Pixar films as well.
Just take a listen to my favorite Pixar soundtrack titled “Nemo Egg” from Finding Nemo as well as Finding Dory:
This is one of those soundtracks that when you listen to it, you are immediately transported to the ocean. The soundtrack defines these two films as we hear a piano and some violins combine to make a beautiful piece. The tune is so iconic that you can hear it play while waiting in line for ‘The Seas With Nemo & Friends’ attraction at Epcot. If you listen closely, you can also hear it throughout the entire ‘Living Seas’ pavilion located in the same location as the attraction.
A very underrated Pixar film if you ask me, Ratatouille also has a wonderful soundtrack to listen to:
Again Pixar likes to use the piano as its lead instrument but does so in a way that captures the essence of Paris. Let’s not forget the french accordion that we also hear playing in the background. It’s a perfect blend of tunes that compliments the film extremely well.
A final soundtrack that I’d like to mention is Michael Giacchino’s The Incredibles:
The soundtrack is so distinctly different from any of the others that it needs to heard. This piece is impeccable and is a great mix of various spy, superhero, and crime films all put together in one score. It can be said that Giacchino was heavily inspired by The Pink Panther’s main theme as well as any of the James Bond film scores. The fast-paced piece goes well with the action spectacle that comes with The Incredibles.
Movie soundtracks must be done right and need to fit the style the film is trying to convey. Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” is so synonymous with the Toy Story franchise that it’s hard to imagine it without that signature song. The same goes for these other incredible soundtracks. This goes to show you how important soundtracks can be to a film. They are characters in and of themselves.
Disney•Pixar Will Continue To Have Lasting Appeal For Generations To Come
Disney and Pixar aren’t going anywhere. If the films continue to be the success they are, you can expect the creators to come up with more innovative ways to craft an even better story. After Cars 3, Coco is the next Pixar film to debut later this year. A sequel to the first Incredibles movie is slated for a June 15, 2018 release date as well as a Toy Story 4 which is due out sometime in 2019.
These animators always find a way to tug at our heartstrings while giving us a great message we can all learn from. I cannot wait to see what other unique stories Disney•Pixar has to offer.
What is your favorite Disney•Pixar movie to date and why? I’d love to hear what you all have to say in the comment section below!