Ultimate Pixar Ranking: #25-#16
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Hello and welcome to a very special series on GraceofStorytelling! Today is the release of Lightyear, Pixar’s 26th feature film. In honor of the newest addition to this iconic legacy, I’ve spent the last month or so rewatching all twenty-five preexisting Pixar movies, from Toy Story (1995) to Turning Red (2022), to prepare an Ultimate Pixar Ranking. My ranking, and a short explanation of my thoughts for each film, will be revealed in a three-part blog series. This post will cover spots #16-#25 on the list.
Although I hate to focus on the negative, I’ll be starting with #25, my least favorite Pixar movie, and working my way up to #16.
25. The Good Dinosaur (2015)
This might be due to my personal tastes, but I did not enjoy this movie. I found so many factors to be not just unenjoyable, but disturbing to watch. Honestly, I think the concept of this movie would have worked better as a six-minute short without dialogue.
24. A Bug’s Life (1998)
I didn’t love this one, although perhaps my viewing was influenced by my dislike of the ‘It’s Tough to be a Bug’ attraction at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. While the main ensemble had pleasing designs, a lot of the background bugs looked creepy to me. A few of the jokes made me laugh, but most of the humor was too mean for my liking. The storyline also felt really harsh, and the violence of the climax went on forever. Overall, I did not find it to be a pleasant viewing experience.
23. Cars 2 (2011)
I hate to say this, because I love the first Cars movie, but Cars 2 was a fantastic disappointment for me. Everything that made the first Cars work is missing. The opening scene sets a drastically different tone (international spy thriller) that is completely disjointed from the tone set in the first movie. The plot, which is hugely based on gasoline vs. alternative energy, is conveyed almost entirely through dialogue, rather than the animation, which makes the story not very accessible to kids. The soundtrack is mediocre compared to the first. All of the loveable characters from Radiator Springs are barely present, except for Mater, who takes center stage at the cost of being characterized as a clingy dope with writing that feels more mean than funny. Speaking of funny, the humor of Cars 2 just doesn’t work–it’s all based on American perceptions of foreign countries and car mechanics–which means all scripted jokes are for adults, which I think is a disservice to the franchise’s young audience. Even when viewing it as a movie on its own and not as a sequel for a beloved movie, the story is indistinguishable from any other middling spy movie, and the iconic feature of all the characters being anthropomorphic cars does not add anything to the story. The only things I liked about Cars 2 was the way Lightning McQueen truly loves Mater and Radiator Springs, and the way the Radiator Springs crew shows up out of quite literally nowhere to fight off bad guys for about two minutes towards the end.
22. The Incredibles (2004)
My experience with this movie is split right down the middle. For the first half of the movie, I really was not interested in Bob Parr’s self-pity, and then his power fantasy. The whole concept of suffering because you’re extraordinary and nobody appreciates you feels really egotistical and off-putting to me. However, I really loved Violet and Dash, and I genuinely thought it was awesome during the second part of the movie when the whole family reunites and fights together.
21. Brave (2012)
Brave was…fine. I really wanted to like it, but unfortunately it feels like Pixar’s attempt at a Walt Disney Animation Studios Movie, without anything that makes those films special. I like it better when Pixar does what they do best, rather than trying to be like anybody else.
20. Incredibles 2 (2018)
Incredibles 2 was less annoying than the first, and I really enjoyed it towards the end. Violet and Dash having to come to their parents’ rescue reminded me a lot of Spy Kids, which was one of my favorite childhood movies. The new ensemble of supers were really cool, and made the fight scenes incredibly visually engaging. I still am not invested in the plight of superheroes in this universe, however.
19. Soul (2020)
Soul is a very well-done movie. However, when it comes to my personal tastes, I don’t always enjoy being faced with the concept of human mortality in my entertainment media, so its deep existentialism is a bit overwhelming for me.
18. Ratatouille (2007)
Standout elements in Ratatouille for me: the sequences when Remy and Linguini learn to cook together and when Linguini waits tables on roller skates, and the ways it is clear that there is genuine love between Remy and his father/brother, in spite of their clashing perspectives. Ultimately, this movie is well-done, but a bit bizarre and not quite my aesthetic.
17. Toy Story (1995)
A classic! Toy Story made Pixar what it is today, and it’s a story that stands the test of time, even as the animation ages, and some of that older animation starts to look a bit creepy.
16. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
I love the worldbuilding and character design, especially in the beginning. I also love Boo, Mike, and Sully together. Those were the best parts of the movie. Later on, the story gets a bit intense and dark, and I start to lose interest around the middle when Mike and Sully are banished to the Himalayas. The barren white background is so isolated from the brightly-colored aesthetics of the rest of the movie, it makes the pacing lag for me. However, the finale and epilogue are absolutely fantastic.
Check here Part 2 of my Ultimate Pixar Ranking!