You’ve Got A Friend In Me: Pixar’s Best Buddies
This Tuesday (Feb. 19), Disney is cracking open their vault to re-release Monsters Inc., Pixar’s buddy comedy about a giant blue monster named Sulley and his best friend, a lime green fellow who is all eye, named Mike. Or is it a buddy comedy about Sulley and his unconventional friendship with Boo, an adorable two-year-old moppet who he is supposed to scare, but ends up bonding with instead?
Like most Pixar films, Monsters Inc. is a celebration of friendships of both the expected and unexpected variety. Since the ’90s the studio has turned creating iconic duos into an art form by illustrating the benefits of sticking with the buddy system with an unparalleled level of humor and poignancy. The characters that populate the Pixar universe may be animated, but their friendships always feel real, even when the friendships in question happen to be between a chef and a rat, a pair of talking toys or a little girl and the monster who lives in her closet.
Woody and Buzz are the duo that started it all, but their bromance got off to a rocky start. When they first met, Woody was jealous of Buzz, and Buzz thought Woody was an annoying Earthling. It was only after they were forced to work together in order to find their way back to Andy that the space ranger and cowboy figured out that they made better friends than they did enemies.
Three movies later and it’s hard to imagine the animated odd couple as anything other than best buddies. They’ve seen each other through kidnapping attempts, nightmarish day care centers and one disturbing visit to Sid’s house, all the while never losing sight of the belief that they can overcome anything– including being given up by their beloved Andy –as long as they stick together. Many things have changed since we met the duo in 1995, but their unwavering loyalty to one another isn’t one of them.
All Pixar films are tearjerkers on some level (with the possible exception of Cars 2), but Up stands as the most emotional one of the bunch. Blame Carl, the curmudgeonly old soul who is left bitter and alone after his wife, Ellie, dies. When faced with eviction and the possibility of spending the rest of his life in a retirement home, Carl takes his house to the skies with the aid of dozens of brightly colored helium balloons. Unbeknownst to him, he ends up bringing an enthusiastic little boy named Russell along for the ride.
Despite their age difference, and Carl’s reluctance to engage with people, the pair develop a strong connection over the course of the film. Like Carl, Russell is also missing someone important from his life. In his case, the person happens to be his father. During their high-flying adventure, Carl reluctantly begins to appreciate having Russell around. By the end, he becomes a surrogate grandfather figure for the little boy, and in the process he learns how to embrace life again for the first time since he lost Ellie.
Children aren’t meant to befriend the monsters that live in their closets, but that’s exactly what happened between Boo and Sulley.
At the age of two, Boo can barely talk, but her affection for the cuddly monster who came to collect her screams is written all over her face. The feeling is clearly mutual, as Sulley becomes attached to the little girl (even giving her the moniker “Boo” because he doesn’t know her real name). Together they conquer their fears and in the process become the cutest pair of buddies in the Pixar pantheon.
Sulley and Mike are by far the most conventional friendship on the list, despite the whole being monsters thing, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less deserving of a spot. Their dynamic is more akin to the traditional sidekick/hero dynamic, with Mike playing the hilarious Robin to Sulley’s bumbling Batman. Their friendship is established when the film begins, but it is challenged by the presence of Boo. What makes them special is that even when Sulley’s attachment to the little girl is upturning their lives, Mike stands by his friend, even going so far as to rebuild the gateway to Boo’s room so his buddy can visit her again. If that’s not the mark of a true friendship, I’m not sure what is.
While Sulley and Mike were largely upstaged by Boo and Sulley in Monsters Inc., the boys will get another chance to shine in this summer’s Monsters University.
Marlin is an anxious clown fish, Dory is a hyper and absentminded regal blue tang. They hardly sound like a good match, but when Marlin embarks on a quest to find his lost son, Nemo, Dory is the best possible fish he could have by his side. She may immediately forget names and/or her own location, but Dory’s unrelenting positivity and bravery are exactly what Marlin needs to remind him to “keep on swimming” until he gets his son back.
Rats and chefs are by nature mortal enemies, but Ratatouille made an intriguing argument for their peaceful coexistence in the name of fine cuisine.
Remy and Linguini work because they compliment each other so beautifully. Remy has the talent to be a master chef, but as a rat he lacks an outlet for his passion. Linguini has the opportunity to work in a prestigious kitchen, but he doesn’t have any of Remy’s natural gift for preparing delicious meals. It’s only by working together that they achieve their dreams, and in the process, reawaken a jaded critic’s sense of wonder.
Which pair of Pixar buddies is your favorite? Share your picks below!
Follow me on Twitter @sljbowman