Pixar’s 5 Best Moments (So Far)
Since Toy Story‘s premiere way back in 1995, Pixar’s name has become synonymous with quality. With the possible exception of the more generic Cars 2, Pixar movies are reliably breathtaking affairs that tug on our heartstrings even as they’re making us laugh and wowing us with beautiful visuals. The studio has an armload of Oscars to further drive home the point that they make the coolest movies in town, but what captivates fans both young and old isn’t the accolades, it’s the visceral emotional response Pixar films can illicit from even the most cynical of viewers.
Pixar’s relatively short history is brimming with unforgettable movie moments like Buzz Lightyear’s tea time with Mrs. Nesbitt and Jack Jack’s superpower breakthrough. Narrowing a list down to five moments is already difficult, so I can only imagine this summer’s Brave–which is already exuding the trademark magic Pixar is known for–will make the task even harder. Hence me getting ahead of it.
Fair warning: the moments on this list are predominantly of the tear-jerking variety, so keep your hankies at the ready.
The first Toy Story introduced a generation of kids to the wonders of Pixar and promptly made Buzz and Woody iconic characters. Then those kids grew up while Pixar kept on making movies until the studio eventually returned to Buzz and Woody to show the toys’ now adult kid, Andy, preparing to hand them over to the next generation before he headed off to college.
The sequence at the end of the film where Andy hands his beloved toys over to a little girl who can appreciate their magic, stopping just long enough to have one more game to properly introduce her to Woody and Buzz was powerful whether you grew up with Buzz and Woody or not, but for those of us who were kids when the first Toy Story came out the scene acted as a visual epitaph to our childhoods. It was also a reminder that adulthood doesn’t mean we stop loving the films and characters we grew up with, it just means we get to share them with a whole new generation.
It takes a special movie to make people break down sobbing in the theater before it hits the thirty minute mark. Up is very special. The depiction of Carl and Ellie’s courtship and romance was so engaging it was easy to miss the fact that her death was coming, but come it did. Watching Carl lose the love of his life certainly made his closed off, cantankerous personality understandable, but it also provided moviegoers with a quick and thorough heartbreak.
Critics are rarely portrayed as the good guys in movies. Criticism, it often seems, is the enemy of the artist and at first it didn’t seem like Ratatouille‘s unsmiling Anton Ego was going to be any different. Then he tasted Remy’s ratatouille. One bite was all it took to momentarily transport Anton back to his mother’s kitchen.
The sensation of nostalgia was so powerful it prompted Anton to write the restaurant a glowing review that reminded viewers not only of the power of art, but of the value of criticism as well.
The temptation to say WALL-E is just one long best moment in the Pixar universe is strong, but I know that would be cheating. If forced to pick one sequence that exemplifies the best the movie has to offer, for me it’s not the mesmerizing space dance scene or even EVE’s desperate attempt to reboot WALL-E at the end of the movie, it’s the moment WALL-E gets to share his world with someone other than his pet cockroach.
EVE’s reactions to WALL-E’s collection are both hilarious and touching, but the scene really comes to life when WALL-E puts in his beloved copy of Hello, Dolly! And tries to teach EVE how to dance.
Woody spent the bulk of the first Toy Story movie trying to convince Buzz that he was a toy, not a flying space ranger. It takes a tragic fall to convince Buzz of his limitations, but it’s the moment when he embraces the truth and saves the day anyway that stands as Pixar’s most triumphant moment.
With a firecracker on his back, courtesy of the deranged Sid, Buzz finally gets to fly or, as Woody puts it, he falls with style, and in the process he gets himself and Woody back where the belong right by Andy’s side.
These are my picks for Pixar’s best moments, but I’d love to see your lists. Feel free to share them in the comment section!
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