Yeah it’s a kid’s movie, but I’m still going to watch The Good Dinosaur. It’s a Pixar film and I’m going love it, and here is why.
Words: Jason John, Subeditor: Lauren Burgess
Disney’s Pixar films have been around for years. Their first feature length film ,Toy Story, debuted in 1995. With that film the animation company filled the hearts of thousands of children, and even adults, showing them the meaning of friendship and loyalty.
Since then, they have developed many films with unique story-lines, settings, characters, and much more. Even now with their latest films that came out this year, Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur (a first for the company, who have never released two in a single year), the company have continued their winning streak. The Good Dinosaur has been receiving praise from audiences and critics on its ‘gorgeously animated scenery’ and how well they adapted the story to real life, reflecting our emotions and conflicting thoughts on life.
But why do Pixar films appeal to everyone if they are intended for children? I’m not saying we should be ashamed of watching children’s content because we’re too old. There’s no law saying we cannot be entertained or enjoy content for children as an adult, if so, I would be in prison right now.
Director of Toy Story, John Lasseter said ‘We make the kind of movies we want to see, we love to laugh, but I also believe what Walt Disney said “for every laugh there should be a tear”. I love movies that make me cry, because they’re tapping into a real emotion in me, and I always think afterwards ‘how did they do that?”. Maybe that’s how Pixar reaches into the hearts of the audience. But I believe Pixar uses certain methods to make their films appeal to everyone, no matter your age, race, or religion.
Pixar’s main method in their films is personification. Personification is a literary method that authors use to give animals or inanimate objects human qualities, making them seem relatable to the audience. We’ve seen this at its most extreme presented in Toy Story and the Cars series, even in the opening of their films with the table-lamp stomping on the ‘I’ in the logo.
By giving these inanimate objects personality, emotions, and goals, it opens audiences’ minds and allows them to dive into Pixar’s world of imagination. Pixar shows its audiences what it would be like if a toy had a jealous rivalry with a new toy, or what if a toy actually believed he was a space-ranger? Their character ideology links to what real people believe and feel. Pixar doesn’t exaggerate by making a toy have these wild thoughts, they present it as a natural feeling, something to not be ashamed of or say it will end terribly as in the end of Toy Story, we see Buzz and Woody become the best of friends.
It’s these little aspects of what makes us human that allows us relate to these characters. But what about when Pixar actually have human characters in their film like in The Incredibles and Up? Yes they make films that are based around human beings that are not too different from us, but again, they add a little of their spectacular imagination to the characters to make it appeal to children and adults. In the middle of The Incredibles film we see an average nuclear family, but really they are a family that have super powers struggling to keep their powers unknown to the public. One character in particular in the film that I analysed is Mr. Incredible. He’s a middle-age father of three who’s going through a midlife crisis as he’s tired of his mundane office work life and wants to repeat his glory days of being a super-hero.
Like many fathers, or men in general, when they reach their middle-age, they get sick and tired of their mediocre lifestyle and do something wild again like buy motorbike or go travelling across the world. In the Pixar world, Mr. Incredible wants to be a hero again and help the less fortunate. The sense of reliving the good times of your life appeals to the adults, while the factor of being a super hero and fighting crime appeals to the children as most of them dream of doing that.
Another film that has its characters relate to both children and adults is Brave. In the film, Merida is a young princess who wants to follow her own path in life by becoming a hunter, but it goes against her mother’s aspirations for her. However, she ignores her responsibility so that she can decide her own fate. This relates to both children and adults as we all have a rebellious attitude when it comes to following our dreams and beliefs. Children sometimes disobey their parents as they don’t agree to their terms, and I’m sure some parents disagreed with theirs and even now disagree with other elders. Pixar brings that character relationship to audiences because that’s what we like seeing, people that also feel love, have dreams, and feel pain.
The second method Pixar uses to appeal to children and adults is their setting. In the recent film Inside Out, audiences are brought into the world of a young girl’s mind; seeing her emotions and her memories in the form of different islands making a fantasy-like world very different to what we really expect is going on in our heads. Inside Out’s islands that keep our memories, thoughts, and dreams makes a connection to people keeping those thoughts as safe havens for us to remember the good times, or even the bad times so that we can help ourselves stay away from dangerous situations. The director, Pete Docter said “We want to be happy in life. As parents, we want our kids to be happy in life. But that’s not the reality of life, so how are we going to deal with it? We can try to push it away and triumph over it, but that’s pointless in the end. So we have to embrace it.”. This was the message he wanted to portray in his film, that in life we need to embrace the bad moments in life so that we can move on and have more positive moments.
One of my favourite settings to see in a Pixar film is the monster’s world in Monsters Inc. Here, Pixar really got the whole team to pitch in with extraordinary ideas for this world. Audiences were shown a world run by creatures whose power source is the screams of children. But we see more than just that, we see what cars they drive, the disgusting food they eat, the clothes that have extra sleeves or neck holes, and even their university where they learn and train to become the best at scaring. Truly, the Monsters Inc. setting is a wild and wonderful fantasy to live in, its strangeness appeals to children, while its close-to-home structure of society and culture relates to adults that find its parody of our world funny.
Finally, the last aspect that appeals to everyone in Pixar’s films is their animation. Many of us love how Pixar’s animating team create beautifully detailed characters and landscapes, and the textures are almost realistic. Pixar has really improved in the detail of their CGI since Toy Story. We’ve seen individual hairs move on Sullivan’s fur and particles swaying in the air in Inside Out. Hell, people are even going wild about how detailed the water is in The Good Dinosaur. Many animation students from around the world just dream of workng with Pixar while making the next Disney blockbuster.
So in those three methods Pixar can get the love and respect from anyone no matter what age they are. So go on! Watch The Good Dinosaur and feel damn good about it.