Bill Goodykoontz Arizona Republic
Published 7:30 p.m. UTC Jun 14, 2018
Pixar has had plenty of movies that are, to quote the late Steve Jobs, “insanely great.”
The latest entry, “Incredibles 2,” isn’t quite one of them. The sequel to 2004’s terrific “Incredibles,” is entertaining, but this is a tough club to break into.
Here’s an updated look at my personal list of Pixar’s best films, though frankly, the top four or five films on the list are so good, the ranking changes in my head all the time.
20. ‘Cars 2’ (2011)
It’s not that sequels are intrinsically bad. It’s that this one is just kind of terrible. Mater, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, takes center stage in the World Grand Prix race. The bit about Larry the Cable Guy taking center stage is probably all you need to know.
19. ‘Cars’ (2006)
Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), a hotshot, hot-headed race car, gets stranded in rural Radiator Springs after damaging the road there; he has to stay and fix it. Yes, the plot is basically a rip-off of “Doc Hollywood,” but this movie has Paul Newman.
18. ’Cars 3′ (2017)
Third time’s the charm, more or less, as Lightning McQueen faces mortality. After losing a few races, he has to pull himself together and win a big one, he can keep racing. Lesser Pixar, but good lesser Pixar.
17. ’The Good Dinosaur’ (2015)
The title is spot on — this is a good film, not great. The story of a dinosaur separated from his family who is helped by a young human (the comet missed the earth, so things turned out a little differently in this telling) is as visually creative as anything the studio has done. Its biggest fault is that it tries too hard. If you don’t cry, it’s not for the movie’s lack of trying.
16. ‘A Bug’s Life’ (1998)
It’s not that this movie is so bad. It’s that the others are really good. Flik the ant (Dave Foley) must recruit fellow bugs to fend off the greedy grasshoppers. Things do not go as planned. Do they ever? Great cast, including Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Phyllis Diller, of all people.
15. ‘Incredibles 2’ (2018)
It’s hard to top the original of anything, unless it’s a “Godfather” movie (or, for some, a “Toy Story” one). This doesn’t, but it’s still an entertaining, relevant movie. Superheroes are still outlawed, but a billionaire and his sister try to make them legitimate again. Elastigirl is the one out saving the day, while Mr. Incredible stays home with the kids — a far more dangerous job.
14. Monsters University
A prequel I’m which we learn how Mike and Sully learned to scare people. Not as cool as the original, of course, but another chance to visit with Billy Crystal and John Goodman in particularly endearing roles.
13. ‘Brave’ (2012)
Pixar finally gets a female protagonist. Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) has no intention of just being someone else’s royal wife. She charts her own course, but her actions turn her mother into a real bear. Like, bear. A real one. The trick is turning her back.
12. ‘Finding Dory’
In the sequel to “Finding Nemo” we learn a lot about Dory, the forgetful fish who figured so prominently in the first film. It’s a touching story that doubles down on the comedy. Not as good as the original, but not much is.
11. Monsters, Inc.
A great idea well executed. Those monsters under the bed? They’re real, and they have to learn how to scare you. They’re as afraid of kids as kids are of them, and one kid slips through to their side.
10. ‘Ratatouille’ (2007)
Now, this is a different idea: Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a French rat who arrives in Paris. He happens to be a great chef. Events conspire to let Remy cook, in secret, and his dishes become a hit. The animation is incredible, and food critic Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole) gives one of the best defenses of criticism you’ll ever hear. So, of course, we like that.
9. ‘WALL-E’ (2008)
In the future, Earth has been reduced to an oversized dump. The humans have all left, because of the pollution. The only creature left is WALL-E, a clean-up robot, and his cockroach friend. Then one day a robot named EVE shows up, and WALL-E falls in love. They eventually travel to the space ship where the humans are living and wind up saving the planet. Which is all nice and everything, but the first half of the movie, in which WALL-E’s daily life is shown, is magical.
8. ‘Coco’ (2017)
A boy who wants to be a musician winds up in the Land of the Dead. His family forbids music, even in death, thanks to a long-ago abandonment. But while he’s in the Land of the Dead, the boy will learn to live. Yes, Disney tried to copyright the phrase “Dia de los Muertos,” but the film itself manages to avoid cultural appropriation. Plus, it’ll make you cry. Ahem. So we hear.
7. ‘Toy Story 2’ (1999)
Woody gets stolen by an unscrupulous toy collector, so Buzz and his friends have to rescue him. But Woody discovers how popular he once was, including as the star of a TV show, and suddenly the idea of being a collector’s item doesn’t sound so bad. There are days when this is my favorite — all three films are just so good. And Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammer) is one of the more complex characters in the series.
6. ‘The Incredibles’ (2004)
Ever wonder what happens when super heroes get old? Here’s your answer. Craig T. Nelson provides the voice of Mr. Incredible, a retired super hero trying to live a quiet life with his super family, which includes his wife, Elastigirl (Holly Hunter). They’re called back into action, which means dusting off the rust (and, for Mr. Incredible, getting back into shape).
5. ‘Inside Out’ (2015)
This movie gets inside your head. Or, more accurately, the head of a young girl, where her emotions live. They get jumbled when her family moves to San Francisco. It’s one of the most-inventive plots ever devised, and the execution is terrific. Amy Poehler is good as Joy, but Phyllis Smith steals the show as Sadness. Oh. And you’ll cry.
4. ‘Finding Nemo’ (2003)
You certainly hope whoever had the idea to put Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres together got a big raise. He plays Marlin, a clown fish whose son Nemo (Alexander Gould) has been captured in the Great Barrier Reef. So he sets off across the ocean to find him, with the help of Dory (DeGeneres), a fish with a short-term memory problem. A truly delightful demonstration that, with the right attitude, anything is possible.
3. ‘Toy Story 3’ (2010)
The end of the story, as Andy, Woody and Buzz’s owner, gets ready for college. Loyalty and love are, as ever, the big themes here. Some great new characters include bad guy Lotso (Ned Beatty) and, best of all, Ken (Michael Keaton),Barbie’s lesser half. It will also forever remain for me the one I wish I had back: I gave it 4.5 stars, when it should have been 5. Live and learn.
2. ‘Up’ (2009)
After a lifetime of travel postponed, Carl (Ed Asner) attaches balloons to his house and floats to South America — with Russell (Jordan Nagai), a scout stowaway, on board. Upon landing they find adventure, talking dogs and real friendship. Beautifully told, with a short segment near the beginning in which Carl’s life is portrayed in a few minutes that is heartbreaking, and wonderful.
1. ‘Toy Story’ (1995)
The first, and unlike anything we’d seen before. The story, in which toys come to life after their owners leave the room, was written with the kid in all of us in mind (“Avengers” director Joss Whedon was one of the contributors to the script). Tom Hanks and Tim Allen made Woody and Buzz Lightyear real characters, not just cartoons. A great way to start a studio.
Reach Goodykoontz at [email protected] Facebook: facebook.com/GoodyOnFilm. Twitter: @goodyk.
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