15 Pixar movies ranked from best to worst: 'Toy Story 3' to 'Cars 2'
Ranking Pixar movies is like picking your favorite Beatles song or Godiva chocolate flavor. One person prefers "Help!" to "A Day in the Life," or a dark chocolate truffle to a raspberry nougat, and who's to say who's right?
With the studio's 15th feature, "Inside Out," opening in theaters this week, TheWrap's film critic Alonso Duralde stacks Pixar's offerings from favorite to least.
3. Toy Story 2 (1999) Wherein we learn that toys need to be taken out of their mint packaging and loved if they're to be truly happy. And that a Sarah McLachlan song about a doll who misses being cared for by her owner can reduce grown men to sobbing.
4. Finding Nemo (2003) Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres have the precision timing of a vaudeville comedy duo as two tiny fish who brave the big, wide ocean to rescue a missing youngster. This parable about the push and pull of parent-child dependency offers some of Pixar's finest blending of adventure and comedy.
5. Toy Story (1995) The one that started it all and kick-started a whole new way of making cartoons. Its characters became instant icons while its gleaming surfaces changed animation more than any other single movie since "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
7. Brave (2012) Despite a rough production, this saga offers us Merida, one of U.S. animation's most self-assured characters, who refuses to be married off by her father as though she were your run-of-the-mill princess. Merida's skill with a bow and arrow made archery look even more appealing than Jennifer Lawrence does in the "Hunger Games" movies.
8. WALL-E (2008) The first half or so of this ecological fable – a silent comedy about the titular robot tidying up an abandoned earth and longing for love – is Pixar's greatest achievement. Unfortunately, it gets dragged down by a lot of loud chasing in the second half.
9. Ratatouille (2007) Follow your bliss, says this entry, even if you're a sewer rat who wants to be a gourmet chef. It's lovely, and its ending will be forever cited by critics of every medium, but some screenwriting contrivances make it good-but-not-great Pixar.
11. Monsters University (2013) This colorful prequel, featuring Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) as college freshmen, plays like a G-rated "Revenge of the Nerds," and that's mostly a good thing. Is this the first kids' movie to suggest that higher education isn't necessarily for everyone?
12. Monsters, Inc. (2001) The things that go bump in the night are just doing their jobs, collecting the screams of boys and girls to power their monstrous alternate dimension. Leave it to Pixar to turn childhood terror into something fuzzy and huggable while also sneaking in a metaphor about over-reliance on fossil fuels.
13. A Bug's Life (1998) Back in 1998, the second Pixar feature was racing to the big screen against the thematically similar "Antz." Neither has achieved iconic status, notwithstanding the "Bug's"-themed kiddie area of Disneyland. The film does provide memorable voice roles for "The Ref" co-stars Denis Leary (as a manly-man ladybug) and Kevin Spacey (scaring the little ones as an ant-exploiting grasshopper).
14. Cars (2006) Never underestimate little boys and their love for automobiles. This brightly colored but dramatically flat tale is most enjoyed by a) male moviegoers who b) saw it before they turned 10 and c) have no idea that it tells virtually the same story as the Michael J. Fox comedy "Doc Hollywood."
15. Cars 2 (2011) "They should let people see the movie for free," one pundit opined, "since Disney will make all their money back on the bedsheets." Some of Pixar's best movies are sequels, but this follow-up to an already inferior studio entry seemed like nothing but a craven bid for more merchandising money. The results were good for shareholders but middling for moviegoers.
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