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Which Pixar Plot Twist is the Best? (And Worst)

pixar plot twist

Pixar movies aren’t really known for having great plot twists. But there are still a few good ones here and there that we can appreciate.

So which Pixar “plot twist” is the best? This isn’t an easy question to answer, and obviously Pixar fans will spar and disagree over the top 5, let alone the very best. That said, I’ve devised my own rating system for each of Pixar’s most relevant plot twists, and to answer this question for myself, I’m breaking down the Pixar filmography movie by movie to assign these ratings and form my own conclusion accordingly.

But first, let’s define what a plot twist really is as best we can. To keep things simple, I consider a plot twist to be a radical shift in the expected outcome of the plot. Normally, we would only consider these to be plot twists if they happen closer to the end of the story, but I think a great plot twist can be revealed as early as the second act.

(Warning, this post contains spoilers for every single Pixar movie!)

Let’s begin with Pixar’s first feature-length film: Toy Story.

Go on…Which Pixar Plot Twist is the Best? (And Worst)

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Snarcasm: It’s Time For A New Pixar Theory, Sort Of

snarcasm pixar theory

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read. 

The Pixar Theory is old news, everyone. You know it. I know it. Lee Unkrich practically breathes it into the cease and desist letters he claims his lawyers send me. And then there’s Joshua Eyler, who graciously wants to speed the process of a new Pixar Theory along. So much to unpack here. Perhaps we should begin with a tweet?

My new post (with all due respect to @JonNegroni‘s original): “It’s Time for a New Pixar Theory”

First problem: I am due zero respect.

Go on…Snarcasm: It’s Time For A New Pixar Theory, Sort Of

Snarcasm: Disney Ruined Pixar Because Why Not?

disney pixar

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read

Did Pixar lose its way, or did we lose our way with Pixar? There’s no real answer to the latter part of that question because it makes no sense. But the article we’re snarcasming this week actually does make a lot of sense and deserves to be approached thoughtfully. Even though it’s basically wrong for the most part.

Writing for The Atlantic, Christopher Orr titles his piece “How Pixar Lost Its Way,” because at this point, Orr is confident there’s no other conclusion to reach.

For 15 years, the animation studio was the best on the planet.

Studio Ghibli would like a word.

Then Disney bought it. 

And the Fire Nation attacked.

Orr begins his piece with a line from Ed Catmull, Pixar’s own president who at one point claimed that sequels can represent “creative bankruptcy.”

He was discussing Pixar, the legendary animation studio, and its avowed distaste for cheap spin-offs.

Good thing Pixar doesn’t make cheap spin-offs!

Hold on, we’ll get to Cars 2.

More pointedly, he argued that if Pixar were only to make sequels, it would “wither and die.”

Good thing Pixar doesn’t only make sequels!

Yet here comes Cars 3, rolling into a theater near you this month.

Ah yes, it wouldn’t be a hot take on Pixar without car-related puns.

You may recall that the original Cars, released back in 2006, was widely judged to be the studio’s worst film to date.

“Worst,” however, is a misleading phrase. It wasn’t the strongest of the Pixar films, but most critics believed the film was good mainly on the strengths of its production value and a decent story. The problem was that Cars was the first Pixar movie made mostly for children. Cars 2 was made for merchandising to said children and was the studio’s first flop, coincidentally.

if Cars 3 isn’t disheartening enough, two of the three Pixar films in line after it are also sequels: The Incredibles 2 and (say it isn’t so!) Toy Story 4.

Of course, Pixar has made great sequels as well, including two for that last movie you mention. And they just made Finding Dory, which audiences loved—

The golden era of Pixar is over.

Yeah, ok, here we go.

It was a 15-year run of unmatched commercial and creative excellence,

Filled with sequels and large gaps in between movies.

Since then, other animation studios have made consistently better films.

This is somewhat true, but not necessarily fair. The only studio that’s been making those better films is Disney, which has been creatively led by Pixar’s John Lasseter since the studio’s purchase. Orr also mentions two Laika films, but one came out the same year as Up and the other came out the same year as Finding Dory.

To Orr’s point, Disney has made Wreck-It RalphFrozenBig Hero 6Moana, and Zootopia, all of which are widely regarded as better than BraveCars 2Monsters University (arguably), The Good Dinosaur (arguably), and Finding Dory. But Pixar has also made Inside Out, which most critics consider the superior film out of every single one of those Disney and Laika films.

Now, I get Orr’s point. That’s just one Pixar movie while Disney has had an aggressive output of great films that have managed to catch up to Pixar’s level of quality. If that were Orr’s only argument here, it would be a noteworthy one, but the jump to concluding that this means Pixar has lost its way ignores plenty of other important information, including Pixar’s excellent short animated films, which are consistently better than Disney’s, and the fact that they’ve still made good movies in the last seven years.

One need only look at this year’s Oscars: Two Disney movies, Zootopia and Moana, were nominated for Best Animated Feature, and Zootopia won. Pixar’s Finding Dory was shut out altogether.

First of all, Pixar won an Oscar just a year ago. Second, Finding Dory isn’t any less of a good film simply because it didn’t win a certain award. It just wasn’t as original and compelling as Zootopia and Moana, which is fine, and the Academy has a persistent stigma against sequels, anyway. Orr’s standard of Pixar being on the right path is too restricting, apparently arguing that movies are best when they manage to best other movies, ignoring, for example, Kubo and the Two Strings, which numerous critics argue was better than both Zootopia and Moana. Even if they’re right, all three movies are pretty good.

Simply put, a film being great doesn’t make another film any less great. This is only relevant if the value you hold in a movie is tied into how it compares with the reception of its competition.

Orr goes on, however, to expand on his own standard for what makes Pixar great, citing its technical achievements (which none of the sequels have erred on) and how it has provided great cinema for kids and adults (which hasn’t changed at all since Toy Story 3).

Even as others gradually caught up with Pixar’s visual artistry, the studio continued to tell stories of unparalleled depth and sophistication.

Some Pixar movies, however, weren’t so brilliantly received by critics at the time they came out. Films like Ratatouille and Wall-E, for example, were criticized plenty for trifles that no one even considers now. Monsters Inc. wasn’t exactly critic-proof either (it didn’t even win an Oscar?!), and that goes even more for A Bug’s Life.

Two films that unquestionably cemented Pixar’s eventual reputation beyond Toy Story were The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. Several other Pixar movies have managed to match them, in my opinion, but only Inside Out has truly reached the standard Orr sets here, which isn’t one that has been consistently met by Pixar with every film they’ve put out. Good Dinosaur is a good example, in that it’s a film directly trying to be far more bizarre and experimental than what’s worked for Pixar in the past.

Orr goes on to talk about Pixar’s achievement with crossover storytelling, raising some great points about how and why their movies are so consistently well-received.

And then, after Toy Story 3, the Pixar magic began to fade.

Here we go.

The sequels that followed—Cars 2 (a spy spoof) in 2011 and Monsters University (a college farce) in 2013—lacked any thematic or emotional connection to the movies that spawned them.

I truly take issue with Orr essentially lumping these two movies together, because Monsters University in no way lacks thematic connection to Monsters Inc. If anything, it adds flourish to the Mike Wazowski character and tells a poignant story about how we deal with our limitations. It’s far from merely being a “college farce.”

Though better than either of those two, Brave, Pixar’s 2012 foray into princessdom, was a disappointment as well.

I’m not sure which movie is better—Monsters University or Brave. Orr isn’t wrong in saying that Brave was a bit of a disappointment, but it’s about as serviceable as Cars and hey! It won an Oscar.

The studio rallied with Inside Out in 2015.

If by rallied, you mean they put out one of their best films in 20 years, sure. They “rallied.”

But the inferior The Good Dinosaur (also in 2015) and last year’s mediocre Finding Dory only confirmed the overall decline,

Here’s where Orr and I differ the most. To him, Pixar has lost its way because it’s made a few movies that aren’t as good as its very best ones. For me, Pixar has been unable to top themselves year after year, same as Disney wasn’t able to do in the 90s, well before that, and in the near future. But in reality, they never really did that in the first place.

Is Pixar experiencing an overall decline? Sure, no one really disputes that. But does an overall decline mean that the studio has lost its way? Not necessarily. It might just mean we’re witnessing a studio in transition, swinging for the fences with some movies and biding time with sequels as they prepare for a new era that may be entirely different.

Even Orr points out that at the time of the merger, Pixar was already facing huge problems as a studio. And these are the shifts that have led to the Pixar we know today, which has produced occasional masterpieces like Inside Out and artful experiments like The Good Dinosaur. Orr doesn’t even mention Coco, which comes out later this year, but laments Toy Story 4 and Incredibles 2, the latter of which is a sequel to one of Pixar’s best films ever and could very well be the first Pixar sequel since Toy Story 3 to actually be better than the original.

The Disney merger seems to have brought with it new imperatives. Pixar has always been very good at making money, but historically it did so largely on its own terms.

I agree. Merging with Disney is a big reason for the sequels, but that’s likely because Pixar knew they couldn’t survive much longer without them. Pixar movies take years to make, and their standards are too high to make new worlds from scratch at a quick enough speed to pay the bills. Sequels take much less time and can make even more money when done correctly. That’s not an excuse, of course, but it is indicative of what could happen next.

Merger or no, there’s plenty reason to believe Pixar would have kept making sequels anyway in order to support their simultaneous need for great original films to also fill the pipeline. That’s not Pixar losing its way. It’s Pixar changing course in a more sustainable direction, consolidating their talent and taking steps toward a future where they may not have to rely on sequels so badly. And this has led to some good results over the years, along with some unfortunate branding ones, admittedly.

Then Orr makes his worst argument.

There are a dozen Disney theme parks scattered across the globe in need of, well, themes for their rides.

Don’t do it, Orr. Please. Think of the children.

the overlap between the Pixar movies that beget sequels and the movies that inspire rides at Disney amusement parks is all but total.

Seriously? You’re trying to argue that Pixar is basing its creative decisions around theme-parks?

Theme-park rides are premised on an awareness of the theme in question, and young parkgoers are less likely to be familiar with movies that are more than a decade old.

That explains why Disneyland is filled with movie themes from over 50 years ago.

This idea that kids are going to forget what Toy Story is without a Toy Story 4 is almost enough for me to dismiss all of Orr’s previous arguments out of spite. I won’t because clearly he’s not entirely wrong about a lot of this, but…really? Theme-park rides?

Look, there’s a point to be made about how sequels can be properly timed with theme-park attractions in order to maximize exposure. But to suggest that a legendary storyteller like Lasseter is guiding one of the best animated studios of all time (with Catmull’s approval) around what will look good on a brochure is nothing more than a brainless conspiracy theory. They’re not making Toy Story 4 because of a theme-park ride. At best, and if we take Pixar at their word, they’re making it because they truly believe in the story and it would be easier and more profitable than a new IP.

Pixar has promised that after the upcoming glut of sequels, the studio will focus on original features.

And honestly, I believe them. Pixar has built up decades of credibility with its fans, but Orr would dismiss all of it because the studio has only put out one masterpiece in seven years, assuming Coco isn’t as good as it looks, while other studios like Disney haven’t really made any masterpieces of their own in the same amount of time.

I’m not sure I dare to expect much more of what used to make Pixar Pixar: the idiosyncratic stories, the deep emotional resonance, the subtle themes that don’t easily translate into amusement-park rides.

Seriously, it’s been two years since Inside Out. Two. And the people who made it still work at Pixar, and for the last time, they’re still making good films. What makes Pixar Pixar hasn’t changed, just the frequency of its best material, and impatience (while understandable) is a poor excuse for trying to accuse an animation studio of being enslaved to theme-park rides.

Orr finishes by rounding off examples of what he loves in RatatouilleWall-E, and Up, finally stating:

Would Pixar even bother making those pictures anymore?

So the implication is that because these movies supposedly wouldn’t translate well to a theme-park ride (though they actually would, considering the Axiom is begging to be in Tomorrowland and Ratatouille has its own part in Disneyland Paris, which Orr even admits), he questions Pixar’s willingness to make great movies. You know, despite the fact that Coco comes out in November and virtually nothing about Pixar tells us that they’re disinterested in making great movies.

As I’ve pointed out numerous times here, Orr makes a lot of accurate observations, and I don’t blame anyone for believing Pixar really has lost their way. But it really depends on what you look to Pixar for. Even their worst films still contain a level of quality that far surpass the worst of the Disney movies and DreamWorks movies for that matter. It’s definitely true that they’re not putting out a slew of original breakthroughs almost every year like they once did, and yes, that is a shame.

But we also can’t discount that their competitors really have caught up to them in a lot of ways. And there are a ton of learning curves to managing a bigger studio that is no longer as unique and creatively compact as it once was. From what I can tell, Pixar has embraced this decade with a new caution, desperate to preserve its best material by investing in more conventional ways of making money. I’m not saying this is necessarily the best choice they could’ve made, and I don’t agree with all of their decisions since Toy Story 3. But all of this does mean that Pixar can still make the masterpieces we want to see from them.

In other words, I very much doubt a movie like Inside Out, heralded as one of the greatest animated movies of all time, would have been able to come out if it weren’t for Cars 2 and Monsters University. These are movies that came out instead of failed concepts like Newt, and Pixar would have been in a tailspin if not for the box office they made off of Toy Story 3. You don’t have to like it, and hopefully this isn’t a new norm for Pixar, but it is the reality of a studio that has reached maturing age. It’s a different time for Pixar, but not necessarily a bad one.


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Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni


Snarcasm: Everything Wrong With Everything Wrong With ‘The Good Dinosaur’

everything wrong good dinosaur

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read. 

My love for The Good Dinosaur is probably as polarizing as some people’s love for Cinemasins. So it only makes sense that for the first time in Snarcasm history, we’re taking a close look at a video, as opposed to a written article.

And it’s a Cinemasins video, which I know is probably an easy target because even they themselves lampshade their “sins” as self-deprecating jokes made by jerks. But I still think it will be interesting to delve into their criticism of The Good Dinosaur, which is a wonderful movie that I admittedly don’t think is for everyone.

Just take a look at the description of the video, “Everything Wrong With The Good Dinosaur In 12 Minutes Or Less:”

Sigh. We really didn’t like this movie. It’s probably harmless fun for most, but borrows so heavily from so many other Disney films we got annoyed. 

“It’s probably harmless fun for most” is sure to make future Blu-Ray covers.

45 seconds of Disney & Pixar logos…as usual. Even though you all have them memorized at this point.

As usual, you’re criticizing something outside of the movie, instead of the movie itself, and counting that as a “sin.” Logos as a marketing tool are just common sense, and if you’re going to whine about them for every single video you do, at least sin the brands, not the content of the movie people are expecting you to criticize.

Also, don’t, because these logos are awesome and set the movie up in ways that are familiar and build hype. Getting rid of them or blazing past would be akin to removing the Star Wars opening crawl. You just don’t do it.

I understand the movie is rewriting prehistory here for the sake of the story, but I think it’s worth mentioning: The dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago, and humans started to do human things around 10 million-ish years ago, so the movie wants me to believe that nothing ELSE could have happened to the dinosaurs within the 50 million years between this moment and this moment that would have either killed the dinosaurs or, through evolution, altered their appearance so drastically we wouldn’t be able to tell what is what?…I guess so.

The movie is working off of an assumption that a meteor killed the dinosaurs, so you’re including some sort of expectation of a second extinction event, even though we have no reason to assume that happened based on our own history.

We don’t know from the movie exactly what happens, but you’re sinning the film for not shoehorning some sort of bizarre, unfounded aesthetic change to the Earth, which would derail the point of the movie. Because if they did do something more drastic than include lots of new species (which are in this movie), dinosaurs being more intelligent than other creatures (which is in this movie), and the clear and apparent inclusion of a more primitive human species (you guessed it), then you’d just “sin” the movie for being too out there and doing the opposite of what you’re sinning it for now.

Man, these dinosaurs learned how to grow crops in some STRAIGHT ASS lines!!

…wait, that’s it? That’s what you paused and sinned the movie for? What’s your next sin, besides the movie having clouds that look like blobs?

Seriously, people don’t watch these videos so that you can point out the obvious. Yes, the dinosaur farmers who are able to build houses and provide food for themselves akin to humans are able to create straight lines. You know, like countless other animals who use instinct to do things that look cool.

Pixar expects me to believe that the Apatosauruses evolved to presumably have retractable axes in their tails.

No, just that the apatosauruses are incredibly strongHave you seen the size of them, even in this movie?

And super strength.

Yes, let’s complain that the huge dinosaurs are strong.

Well, with this kind of evolution, it’s a wonder the Earth ever thought humans were necessary at all.

Your shower thoughts have nothing to do with what you’re watching. Can you focus, please?

If they can build a device for seeding, they can certainly build a plow.

How? They clearly don’t have access to iron or glass. And you’re even about to complain about their intelligence anyway, so isn’t this reverse sinning?

They also evolved hyper intelligence, which raises the question: How are they able to build tools like this without hands? There’s no way they could tail-whack that thing together. 

The entire film addresses this, showing Arlo using his tail in unique ways to climb and get things done. They don’t “whack” things, they use their tails as a third appendage. They can use their teeth to wind string and their tails to carve multiple pieces of wood. It’s a little silly, but not that far-fetched because the movie shows us the practicality of Arlo’s tail countless times.

(screen shows three eggs) Okay, we eat the big one, we raise the little ones as slaves, agreed?!

I’m starting to think they’re just sinning themselves for the bad jokes. Because this isn’t even…clever? What, you’re joking that the herbivores would eat their young? Haha?

Other than surprising the viewers and the dino-parents…is there any reason for his egg to have been so big when he’s so small? Cause, I don’t think that would actually happen. 

That’s probably because you’re too busy writing jokes instead of thinking through your actual “sins.” When an egg is hatched, the size has nothing to do with the development of the baby. Thematically, it’s foreshadowing to how Arlo starts off well behind his family in an environment that doesn’t feel made for him. It gets the point across immediately (with visuals instead of ham-fisted dialogue) that’s he’s not just timid, he’s timid for a reason.

Also, if I was Arlo’s mom, I’d be kind of pissed right now. “I pushed out this giant ass egg for this!?”

Wow, she must love her own children more than some temporary pain she just went through. Why did they have to write these characters as humans, anyway?

Arlo’s siblings come out of their eggs running and practically flying, yet Arlo struggles to take his first steps.

You’re sinning the movie for having characters who don’t develop exactly the same way? Have you had siblings, before?

And I guess I should mention, again, that you’d complain anyway if Arlo did act the same as his siblings because the characters are interchangeable.

Clawtooth Mountain looks very similar to the Expedition Everest ride at Animal Kingdom. Not exactly the same, but enough to confuse some children. 

Do you not understand how children work? Do you think they get “confused” when they’re delighted to see recognizable references to their favorite movies in Disneyland? No, because they’re children, not paranoid cartographers.

Also, you even admit that it doesn’t even look exactly the same, so how many people would have even noticed this?

Are we getting to any real criticisms yet?

Also, these dinosaurs couldn’t decide if it looked like a claw or a tooth so they said, “F*ck it, let’s just call it Clawtooth.”

Or, you know, they called it that because it looks like three teeth assembled like a claw. But let’s not actually think about things when watching movies.

They’ve been alive for like two minutes and already have chores.

First of all, we don’t see the children doing any work until after the time skip. Clearly, the parents are ingraining their future responsibilities into the children because it’s the most relevant thing to talk to them about if they want to survive.

And second, of course the parents are giving them chores. The movie reveals later on that the family’s survival depends entirely on the children learning how to run the farm themselves one day.

(shows one of the chickens) We never see them eat a chicken or an egg from a chicken, and based on what Arlo eats during another scene in this movie, and science, I can safely assume he is an herbivore, so why are these things even here? Is Henry only keeping them here to teach Arlo a lesson about fear? 

They say later in the movie that their responsibilities include protecting and feeding other, less intelligent animals. And we see this concept echoed throughout the movie with the other characters, including the carnivores who ranch the cattle they don’t eat themselves.

The reason is because these chickens provide a lot of resources. They can be used as fertilizer, their feathers can keep the family warm, and they can even be traded with other farms in the area. I’ll admit that the movie sort of leaves this bit to our imaginations, but it’s not a heavy sin.

Convenient dead, broken log is convenient. 

Yeah, because the dad brought it there himself before running into Arlo. Why is this being mentioned?

“Convenient grass is convenient.” +1 and a funny joke no one cares about!

Mud is not paint. Mud washes away in the rain, yet this and every other mark made remains on the corn silo for the duration of the film.

Seriously, now you don’t understand how dirt works? Mud is a mix of water, earth, and clay. So if it doesn’t rain for a few hours while it’s sitting on the stone silo exposed to sunlight, it’s going to dry and stay there for a while.

(after Henry says “you earned it” to Buck) Making your mark apparently just means “doing your job.” 

If that were the case, Buck would have “earned it” a long time ago when we saw him…doing his job.

The idea is, and read this slow so you don’t lose track, that Buck has earned his mark by figuring out how he best contributes to the farm in a consistent, mature way.

Earlier, Henry earns his mark for not just building a food silo (which is doing his job), but for making it 100% critter proof. It’s about how well the job has been done, which only takes maybe three seconds of thinking carefully about this movie.

You might be expecting me to sin this dino-society placing such a high value on muddy footprints…

No, we’re still just waiting for you to sin the movie for an actual reason.

…instead I’m going to sin this MASSIVELY heavy STONE-based structure for standing upright all this time on four tiny skinny wooden legs. WTF?

We’ve got a decent sin, people!

Though it’s not that egregious considering its’ also held up with string connecting multiple pieces of wood, and the stone structure is hollow. It’s still a little too convenient, though.

(after Arlo says “All right you cluckers!) Pixar basically snuck “All right you f*ckers” into this movie.

Still more humorous than any of the jokes you make in this video.

How are these chickens not dead yet if Arlo can’t successfully feed them?

Gee, maybe his parents are doing it for him. There, that wasn’t so hard.

See, earning your mark clearly references coming of age and reaching independence. His parents obviously fed the chickens themselves while the kids grew up, but one day, they knew Arlo would have to own the responsibility himself. That’s why his parents are disappointed, not because they don’t have an extra hour to do the job themselves.

(after Henry says “I’ve got an idea”) Genuinely surprised a light bulb didn’t appear above his head just before he said this. 

You’re sinning the movie for NOT doing something stupid and completely out of place? What is even happening right now?

(after Henry wakes up Arlo in the middle of the night) And no one else in the room within the same earshot as Arlo hears that.

Ugh, we’re not even 3 minutes into this video, guys. This is my nightmare.

Yes, they’re in the same room, but Henry isn’t as close to them. He’s speaking directly at Arlo with his body wrapped around him. Why do I even have to point this out for you?

Besides, we don’t even know that the kids didn’t hear him as well but did what any other teenager would do and just fall back asleep because it’s the middle of the night and he’s not talking to them.

Stomping around these lightning bugs doesn’t make them move, but lightly waving a tail over them makes them light up and fly away. Is Henry’s tail magic?

In the same scene, THE SAME SCENE, we see Henry blowing air into the firefly on Arlo’s nose, showing how AIR is what makes them light up. So of course his tail spreading over the grass is going to blow enough air to ignite all of the bugs it passes over.

But no, let’s sin the movie (again) because we weren’t paying attention. I’m really starting to wonder if they even watched it at all, despite the video evidence.

I’ve seen the Lion King. This will not end well.

You’re just recognizing a trope that hasn’t even happened yet. Again, you should change “Movie Sin Counter” to “Pointless Movie Interruption Counter.”

With this single jump, yeah, he sets off a pretty-looking firefly event, but…he also killed hundreds of other unsuspecting fireflies who did NOT expect him to jump and land on them…right? RIGHT?!

Wrong. They’re bugs, which means they’re fast and see danger coming much faster than other creatures, as we see earlier in the scene when one lands on Arlo. It’s reasonable to assume they flew away as soon as Henry came anywhere near them.

Also, he’s big but not that big. There’s no way “hundreds of fireflies” were all crammed in the spaces where his feet touched the ground.

(after Henry says they don’t have enough food for winter) But…all you keep here is corn. Is corn the ONLY food you planned to eat all winter?! Do you not have other storehouses with OTHER foods that collectively might mostly cover the shortfall of this one corn storehouse?! How can you have farms and storehouses like this but NOT have any g***mn farming sense?! Are you destined to go extinct regardless of the circumstances?!

Seriously, guys, I don’t even know what to say to this. It’s so blatantly stupid, I’m worried that a little of the nonsense is creeping into my fingers as I type.

Jeremy (I’m just going to call you Jeremy for a second), we’ve spent the entire movie thus far watching how the family runs…a corn farm. So yes, Jeremy, they eat a lot of corn. Which means that they go through that storehouse routinely and have to fill it up routinely. So when a critter keeps stealing some here and there, it makes a big difference in their ability to feed themselves and their livestock.

Why don’t they have other storehouses? Well, what would they put in them, Jeremy? It’s obviously taking their full efforts to harvest this farm, and sure, we know that the family eats other foods they may grow like berries (since Arlo knows to eat them out in the wild), but it’s not like they have time to reap entire forests outside their land.

Movie expects me to believe adorable dinosaurs are capable of this kind of trap-building—and critical thinking!!—despite being, you know, dinosaurs.

 A second ago, you complained they didn’t have enough farming sense. Now they’re too smart? Which was already something you complained about?

And yes, the movie expects you to believe this because they’re SHOWING you how the dinosaurs are making the traps, and the movie up until this point has done nothing but illustrate the normal life and capabilities of these dinosaurs and how they cultivate their living. So you completely missed the point, despite being, you know, a video devoted to critiquing the point.

Henry knows that Arlo struggles to feed the chickens, yet he thinks Arlo is capable of killing.

Yes, because that is the character arc for Henry. He continually pushes Arlo in new ways so that he’ll overcome his fears. So by having him confront a critter who is threatening their livelihood, Henry is expecting Arlo to rise to the occasion. This is a perfectly normal teaching technique: when you can’t overcome an obstacle, do something else that may even be a little bit harder in order to power through your perceived limitations.

Shouldn’t he be hiding? Arlo was instructed to catch and kill the critter, not keep it from showing up. That’s why they built that trap! See? I told you he couldn’t be trusted with this. 

Of course, because Arlo has already proven that he’s not very good at much of anything right now. So yeah, he’s doing a bad job. Is this surprising enough to be a knock against the movie when it actually fits the character? He is, after all, probably more focused on scaring creatures away so he doesn’t have to kill them.

Jump scare? What are you doing here? 

Yeah, movies have jump scares. Complaining about such a standard movie trope is like getting bent out of shape because a movie has establishing shots or narration.

Arlo cuts the tree-rope, but then the kid climbs out one of the holes in the net that he TOTALLY should have been able to climb out of earlier. 

I’ll admit that if you only watch the scene once, this might seem like a goof. But the net is clearly being held taut by both the rocks and the rope connected to the tree. By cutting the tree, the net is no longer tight around the kid’s body, so he can just slip out of it. This is emphasized even further by how the kid can’t breathe because of how tight the ropes are.

In other words, you’re bad at this, Jeremy.

(after Henry tells Arlo that if he gets lost, he has to follow the river)

Well, that sounds like some conveniently-prescient bulls*t that will come in handy later. 

Oh, you mean the driving narrative that is established early on because that’s how Arlo travels for the rest of the film? How dare they actually write this movie so it makes sense!

But no, setting things up so they pay off later is apparently a “sin,” now.

Arlo literally trips over the ONLY rock in the pathway. F*ckin’ Arlo.

Yeah, because if there were more rocks, he’d be paying attention to where he walks, but the path is clear and he’s in a hurry, so he doesn’t notice what he’s not looking for.

(three notes come on that sound like “Go the Distance” from Disney’s Hercules)

Yes, I saw Disney’s Hercules too!

You’re literally just cherrypicking a short arrangement from a larger score that doesn’t sound at all like “Go the Distance.” I’d agree with the eye-rolling nature of this if the scene itself had anything to do with Hercules, but it doesn’t in the slightest.

Yes, it’s a hurricane, but…this river behaves as though the freaking Hoover Dam exploded up river. Why? Cause we need to Mufasa Arlo’s dad, of course. 

Earlier, you complained that this time period is “too similar” to a world where the meteor had hit. Now you’re annoyed that there’s a powerful storm strong enough to cause floods…you know, which happens in real life, anyway.

Essentially, you’re annoyed that the writers wrote a plot point about Arlo’s dad dying, and you were prepared to call it a contrivance no matter how they wrote the scene. In other words, the standards you set for movies don’t make any sense, similar to the videos you make.

Well, hello Lion KingI enjoyed you before, but did NOT expect to see you in dinosaur form—and from the same freaking studio!!

Pixar Animation Studios didn’t make The Lion King you walnut.

Also, the only similarity between these two movies for this scene is that Arlo’s dad falls off a cliff. There’s no stampede, no brotherly betrayal, or child being manipulated into his father’s death. It’s taking place in a river, accidentally, as a force of nature.

(Arlo looks at the “marks” on the silo)

“I wish I had that” cliché.

Characters yearning for something isn’t a cliché, it’s a form of good character development. The writers have to establish what Arlo wants so that we can get a clear understanding of his motivations. It’s not some vain desire Arlo has because it’s pleasing to his eye. He wants to make a mark in order to prove himself to his family.

But no, let’s laugh at a character for having a moment after his father dies.

What was this kid doing with his eaten corn cobs BEFORE Arlo opened this hole up 30 seconds ago, eh?! How fortunate for the plot that he sees a new hole, and instead of being scared like a feral human child, he decides it’s an upgrade to where he’s been tossing his food waste! 

This sequence of events makes perfect sense, for reasons you even point out. Arlo removes the rock and throws a cob in, getting the kid’s attention. Once he sees the hole (which he doesn’t know leads to someone because there aren’t usually holes when he’s in the silo), he throws his food out so he can clear space to eat more food.

8 minutes to go…I don’t think I can keep this up without getting extra salty, so prepare yourself.

(after Arlo tells the kid that his dad would still be alive if it wasn’t for him)

That’s true, but it’s also a clear case of transference. 

“Look, he has a personality and character traits! SIN.”

(Arlo and the kid fall in the river)

Arlo ends up in the raging river waters mostly because he’s stupid and has no spatial awareness, though the movie will try to blame it on the feral man-child.

The movie isn’t blaming anyone for anything, because it’s a movie. Arlo certainly blames the kid for what has happened, mostly because the kid is the reason ANY OF THIS IS HAPPENING.

Well, clearly he’s gonna get knocked out by a rock any second…now.

Yeah. Because he’s in a river full of rocks. When will the plot holes..er…rocks end? See, I can make dumb jokes, too!

Also, he doesn’t drown after this. Instead, he’s floated to the surface to find air and other life-giving bulls*it rather easily and conveniently.

True, but it would be a pretty boring movie if Arlo just died right then and there. This might be reaching, a little, but it’s also interesting how Arlo survives at this point because he simply lets the river take him, rather than just fighting it. But over the course of the movie, he learns to fight through nature in order to return home.

It was very considerate of the river to place Arlo in this shallow pool with his head kept above the water on a rock.

He’d obviously stop drifting once being floated into a shallow pool…full of rocks.

I see that he has…bruises? Maybe it’s just dirt. Who knows? But no cuts or gashes or open wounds? It’s one thing for him to survive, but another thing to survive mostly unscathed. 

He’s literally covered in dark bruises. How is that “unscathed?” And of course they didn’t place open gashes on his body. If he had brushed up against something sharp and been carried like that, he’d be dead from bleeding out. Your expectations for a kid’s movie are pretty deadly, even for an edgy one like this.

(after Arlo calls after his mom)

Ha ha ha ha, protagonist is really stupid. 

Really? You’re calling a child who’s been separated from his last living parent stupid for still trying to see if she can hear him and help him? What’s the matter with you?

(after Arlo falls off a rock)

That’s what you get for not having hands! 

No, seriously, what’s the matter with you?

(Arlo on top of a rock, looking at the mountains)

Jeep…it’s what’s for dinner. 

Why…why are you doing this to us? You have to know that people watch your videos expecting something interesting and maybe a little intelligent, even if they like the movie. Why…why would you make pointless, horrendous jokes and add it to a fake “sin” counter under the guise that you’re some sort of critical thinker?

Also,

What ALSO? You literally didn’t say anything in the last sin. You just made a stupid joke that had nothing to do with the movie.

Also, he’s going to have to go DOWN at an incline at least as steep as the one he climbed up, right? He’s like on top of the world here, he’s go nowhere to go but down!

First of all, nice typo. Second of all, you’ve apparently never hiked before if you don’t understand that climbing up things, even if they’re steep, means that you can reasonably climb down, as nothing we saw from his climb suggests he can’t just hop down the rocks as long as he’s being careful. But hey, let’s reference Jeep commercials!

(Arlo asks himself while staring out, “Where’s home?”)

Um…upriver, dip-s*it.

Yes, he knows that you insufferable neckbeard. The point is that even though he’s looking past the river, he can’t even see Clawtooth mountain, so he’s completely lost and has no idea how far home is since he can’t see it from the top of the mountain.

Go ahead, keep making jokes like you’re watching this movie while spitting into a dip cup with some Bud Ice in your lap.

Yep, he somehow climbed from there to here. I know…right?!

Yeah, we saw him. Climb. A lot. Is the sin a sin because it happened, or because you just want to pause and talk to us because you’re lonely?

(quick shot of a caterpillar)

Heimlich?

It’s a sin now for Pixar to show animals that have appeared in other movies? How is that a complaint, rather than a painfully annoying observation someone makes while watching this movie? And this caterpillar doesn’t even look like Heimlich anyway. Like at all.

(Arlo eats some berries)

DON’T EVER DO THIS! Many random forest berries are poisonous! This movie is a terrible role model!!!

Yes, and part of surviving in the wild is eating the right berries, which Arlo does. It’s an animated movie, not a Boy Scouts tutorial.

Seriously, every bone in Arlo’s body is broken at this point. Right?

Arlo gets hurt a lot in this movie, but he’s not a mammal. He’s a sturdier, and quite large, reptile. And a lot of his injuries are sustained over the course of the film, like when his leg gets hurt. So the movie actually does a great job of making his injuries feel real without crippling him to the point where he’s always just limping around.

Besides, the shot you’re referencing only shows Arlo falling back a few feet. It’s not even one of the more punishing moments of the film.

(Arlo’s leg is stuck under a rock)

It looks like we have a 127 Hours situation on our hands…well, more like our leg.

“Hey, this one thing from this movie looks a little similar from this other movie! Look how smart we are for pointing this out! JOKES!”

(shot of the moon)

Bruce Almighty moon in the house, ya’ll!

What…what is the matter with you, Jeremy? You used to be so talented. Biting. Subtle. Respectable. Now, you’re pointing out references to the moon between two movies because…hey, it’s uh, the moon! Remember that from that movie?! DING!

Have I mentioned how good the animation is in the film? Because the story is terrible.

Well, so far in this film, you haven’t said much about the story at all. You’ve sinned the movie for every other thing imaginable, like a chord arrangement, the moon being in the sky, and Arlo climbing up and down things sometimes. But hey, maybe you’ll get to actual criticisms later in the…well, never mind.

What makes this lizard food and not another creature they can talk to? I’m not sure who I should feel bad for here.

The movie has been establishing since the first scene with the chickens that not all creatures in this world are as intelligent and evolved as the dinosaurs. It’s kind of the plot of the movie, which you just called out for being “terrible,” despite the fact that you’re clearly not even following it.

Spot isn’t great at killing animals before bringing them to Arlo for consumption. My modern house cat at least has the common courtesy to kill a mouse before bringing it to me.

Well, guess what, and don’t sit down because you’re just going to stand up when I tell you this…Spot…is not your stupid cat!

In fact, Spot is different from a cat entirely because his instinct is to bring a live animal to Arlo so they can kill and eat the animal together. A lot of animals, like birds do this, but they’re not Jeremy’s stupid cat, so DING!

Movie’s Timon & Pumba stand-in predictably offers the far-from-home lost protagonist bugs as food.

Spot is a stand-in for wildlife foster parents? Because he’s actually Arlo’s pet human, as well as a companion who provides food for him on a dangerous adventure. The circumstances, when you actually analyze them, are completely different from The Lion King. But I know how important you feel in these videos when you make it clear you’ve watched another movie before.

I’m glad Neander-kid figured out Arlo is an herbivore, but still…isn’t there, like, a 60% chance these berries are poisonous? Or was I just over-warned as a child?!

You already sinned the movie for the berries thing, so why are you bothering to bring it up again? Yes, Jeremy, you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to surviving in the woods, apparently. We already got that.

If Spot got the berries from this spot before, how was he able to get there without the Arlo bridge?

The way Spot got to the berries was by following their scent, and he had to climb up trees in a different way so that Arlo could follow him. It was more about getting Arlo across than him repeating his steps.

Spot is a distant relative of Darla Sherman.

So Darla Sherman, for all of you non-Finding Nemo fans, is the braces-wearing niece of the dentist at P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney. She also looks nothing like Spot, aside from also being a computer animated character.

And if this is the case, why bring it up now, half an hour after we’ve been introduced to Spot? Oh, because clearly we need to break things up with a pointless reference.

Arlo survives this fall, which is categorically—oh, who f*cking cares?!?!

Weird, that’s my same experience with this entire video.

Also, Arlo survives the fall (that you cut out the end part of) because the tree branches break his fall, and he’s a big enough creature for that not to kill him.

If you took your young child to this movie, I bet you regret it.

Not unless you have pretty awesome kids, like a lot of the ones who don’t care how scary Jurassic World is because look! Dinosaurs!

So are humans in this version of history dogs? One could argue that the panting is just heavy breathing because of the wrestling match with the snake, but he’s also sitting like a dog, and his name is f*cking Spot! 

It’s almost like Pixar made him this way on purpose.

(after the Pet Collector explains that Dreamcrusher protects him from unrealistic goals)

So does that mean they’re married?

 Insert laugh track here

Both Arlo and Spot must have Lance Armstrong steroid-level lung capacity to make these gopher creatures pop out of the ground.

WHAT?! HOW DARE THEY?!

(when the gophers approach Arlo)

The Good Dinosaur: The Trouble With Tribbles.

Jeremy. I’ve never had to do this before like this but…please stop talking.

(after Spot shows Arlo how to swim)

Aw, he taught him how to human-paddle.

“Look, characters interacting and teaching things to each other! DING! REFERENCE YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT! UNRELATED JOKE!”

These two obviously eat some shady sh*t, but fortunately for them, the side effects are hilarious hallucinations.

Wait, let me beat you to it: “What is this, Requiem for a Dream? Huh? Huh?”

Laugh track

Maybe his parents were wolves. That’s the only logical explanation for his continued non-ape like behavior.

Or, and don’t read this too fast, his family studied and mirrored wolf-like behavior in order to survive because that’s what humans have done for countless years. After all, wolves hunt in packs, follow scents to get food, and howl together to signify their bonds. And years of observing these creatures would probably convince some humans to follow their lead.

But based on his ability to quickly and quietly move, maybe his parents were cats…or hobbits.

First of all, no one cares about your cat, Jeremy. Second, this kid is way faster (and quieter) than a hobbit. That reference makes no sense on multiple levels.

Also, you sped up the video to make it seem like Spot moved farther away really quickly, but if you watch the movie, it’s a pretty reasonable amount of time after Arlo turns his head away based on how quick we’ve seen Spot move so far.

Because it’s a movie, a storm can literally roll into the area in, like, three seconds.

Wow, now you don’t even seem to understand how storms work. I bet Florida would blow your mind.

So, are the Pterodactyls cult members, or are they just religious? Who is Pixar trying to warn me to avoid?

Neither. They’re simply pointing out that unhinged zeal is a bad thing, and in a way that can ring true for a lot of cults and some religions. They’re not picking sides, because this isn’t that kind of movie, but they are showing kids the dangers of justifying bad actions with deity worship.

In other words, this is an awesome movie.

(after a pterodactyl eats a small creature)

Damn, Disney HATES Ice Age.

Pixar made this movie, not Disney. They just signed the checks.

Also, what? Pretty sure when you’re the top animation studio around, you’re not making creative decisions based on what the competition is or isn’t doing. Especially not the makers of Ice Age.

(after the same pterodactyl gulps the creature down)

Also…that’s horrific.

True. And for some people, it’s disturbing, too. And hilarious.

Annnd how did it take me this long to see the Lion King hyena connection to these three pterodactyls?!

Right, because in The Lion King, Simba has to protect a human from three creatures less powerful than him who worship storms and seem kind of OK when you first meet them. Totally the same.

Maybe it took you a while to see the “connection” because you stopped trying to look for one that isn’t there.

Just like Jurassic Park, sudden T-Rex saves the day! 

Only in this movie, a T-Rex saves the day for reasons that makes sense! Not that I have anything against Jurassic Park.

And of course the biggest difference is that Arlo sees the T-Rexes from afar and seeks their help because he thinks they’re his species at a distance, when in Jurassic Park, the T-Rex somehow just shows up inside a building.

The carnivorous T. Rexes are nice to the smaller, defenseless, and potentially delicious creatures because, I guess, John Lasseter was tired of Stephen Spielberg’s vilification of the T. Rex.

So now it’s a sin to NOT be like Jurassic Park? Jeremy, make up your ridiculous, cat-obsessed mind.

And yes, the T-Rexes care after creatures as carnivores in the same way we’ve seen the large Apatosaurus take care of other creatures. It’s a persistent theme of the movie, and it makes sense because these animals are smart enough after years of evolution to realize that there’s more to life than eating. They have plenty to keep their stomachs full, so they can be responsible for an entire herd and be friendly with other creatures because they don’t need to eat them.

And John Lasseter didn’t direct this movie. Peter Sohn did.

OK, so we’re well into this Snarcasm, and I think we can all agree that enough is enough (kudos for making it this far, of course).

The rest of this video is about as nonsensical and unfunny as what we’ve covered thus far, with a lot of attention paid to thin similarities The Good Dinosaur has with other movies, which Jeremy just can’t seem to wrap his head around. As if this is the first time he’s ever seen a movie that references other movies, even though movies do that all the time and get away with it when the circumstances are fairly different so they’re still unique.

But hey, anything for a cheap joke.

Here’s one last “sin” from the end of the video:

Arlo got lost and manages to make it back home, all while not really accomplishing anything, so he gets to finally make his mark…whatever that means.

I had to skip over this part of the video, but the point is that Arlo survived the river twice, when his father was lost after one accident and couldn’t make it back. Not only did Arlo return home (which his family desperately needed to happen because it’s established they need all the help they can get to survive), but he also did so by overcoming his biggest problem. Fear.

No one needed to tell him that he earned his mark. Arlo knew it once he arrived home, because nature itself couldn’t stop him from helping his family and fulfilling his duty. He became a man, and that’s his mark.

To be clear, I don’t really care that the Cinemasins crew has little love for The Good Dinosaur. Obviously, the film just didn’t work for them, and having a good time at the movies is the point, right?

My only issue is that this “sin” video does nothing to highlight what’s actually good or bad in this movie, so millions of people who trust Cinemasins are walking away from this 12 minute jokefest thinking it’s a terrible movie, when many of them may have probably loved it. It’s irresponsible to paint a movie in an over-the-top, negative light simply because that’s the name of your channel, and you really only have 10 sins that are strong enough to make a video for.

In other words, Cinemasins is clickbait. And they have been for a while, it seems.


Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Snarcasm: Disney is Eating Pixar’s Lunch

disney pixar

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read.

This week’s Snarcasm will be a tad different and (dare I say it) a little more serious than usual. Rather than take down one of the worst articles on the Internet (which have been nothing but fan theories lately), I’m addressing some fear, uncertainty, and doubt crisscrossing the world of animation.

And it really needs to stop.

See, I’m all for criticizing Pixar when they deserve it (see Cars 2 and the third act of Brave). They’re not perfect, and we can all agree that mistakes were made in how they executed their latest feature, The Good Dinosaur.

But the groupthink has been reaching a bizarre consensus lately that ignores the triumph of Inside Out and yes, the underrated value offered by The Good Dinosaur. It seems that some people want  Pixar to be taken down a notch in the public eye because Disney Animation has been killing it lately with computer animated hits like TangledFrozen, and Big Hero 6.

disney pixar

Is that fair? Let’s dig in.

Germain Lussier at io9 writes:

Walt Disney Animation is Officially as Good as Pixar Now

Look, I know that the tagline for io9 is “Welcome to the Future,” but that doesn’t mean we can just skip ahead to a time period that doesn’t exist.

And I know that the last few movies made by Disney’s own animation studio have been big hits, but has anyone actually considered Big Hero 6 or Frozen to be better than Inside Out? Let’s read what Lussier has to say.

For several years, Pixar’s animated films made Pixar’s parent company, Disney, look good. And meanwhile, Disney’s own in-house animation studio was going through a rough patch—the company wasn’t making the kind of films people expected from Walt Disney’s namesake.

Lussier goes on to explain how most people don’t even realize that Pixar and Disney are separate entities. But a key thing he points out is that Pixar has long made their own movies outside of Disney’s control (even after Disney bought them).

just as Disney was releasing all those Pixar hits, Disney Animation—a branch of the company with one of the most amazing resumes in film history—was still releasing its own films. Films that usually, and unfortunately, were much less memorable.

These movies include decent but forgettable flicks, such as Meet the RobinsonsBoltThe Princess and the Frog, and other “nice tries.”

disney pixar

It took lots of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears—but with films like Frozen, Big Hero 6 and next month’s new film Zootopia, Walt Disney Animation Studios has finally done the impossible: It’s regained its former glory and can easily share the animation throne with Pixar.

First off, Zootopia hasn’t even come out yet. Lussier caught a screening and gave it high praise later in this article, but we have to just assume that his opinion will match everyone else’s. We’ll revisit this later.

But fine, let’s “welcome the future” and assume that Zootopia will be as good as the trailers make it look. Are FrozenBig Hero 6, and Zootopia enough to take this “animation throne?” And “easily” as he claims?

Lussier is at least half correct from a box office standpoint. Obviously, Frozen made tons of money well out of the reach of Pixar movies. But I hesitate to consider cold, hard cash other people have earned to be a reason for liking a movie.

And to be honest, I don’t even want to compare these movies because they’re so incredibly different. For one thing, Pixar movies are original, unique concept movies that make you fall in love with seemingly mundane yet lovable characters. Disney works to be more accessible with glossy characters and environments that are beautiful from the onset because they’re often derived from pre-existing stories. As a result they usually feel more like pretty art instead of affecting art.

I’m here to tell you things are just getting better. Last week, I was lucky enough to catch an early screening of Disney Animation’s latest film, Zootopia.It’s the best film Disney Animation has made in 20 years.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hope that Lussier is right about this because that’s great news for everyone. But watch what happens next.

Not only is it a film worthy of Pixar, it’s light years ahead of Pixar’s most recent movie, The Good Dinosaur.

Frequent readers know that I completely, absolutely disagree, considering The Good Dinosaur was my second favorite film of 2015 and one of the few films I gave an A+ last year. And while plenty of people agree with Lussier’s sentiment, many also find The Good Dinosaur to be an underrated gem like I do.

disney pixar

And then he says this about Zootopia:

Now, is it as good as Pixar at its best? Inside Out or Toy Story good? No, probably not.

Wait, let me get this straight. Disney Animation’s best film in 20 years isn’t as good as one of Pixar’s most recent movies?

Do you see why I chose this article for Snarcasm? It’s obviously well written, and Lussier is a very smart person. But for whatever reason, people are making grand conclusions about the quality of Pixar based on very slim arguments. If the best Disney animation movie isn’t even better than Inside Out, then how can you even argue that the studio itself is “just as good?”

Lussier seems to be basing his argument on the fact that he thinks The Good Dinosaur sucks, but that’s just one movie. And he’s also saying that the pinnacle of Disney isn’t as good as the best of the Pixar movies. So why say they are easily just as good?

I guess it frustrates me because Inside Out proved so well that Pixar hasn’t slipped the way so many people claimed they would over the last few years. And now we’re already hearing the narrative that Disney Animation is getting better while they’re getting worse, and it’s just bonkers.

And yet even with all that, there are other factors in play here too. Disney Animation and Pixar now create films in the same way, and share creative resources, so the two balancing out makes sense.

Pixar movies and Disney Animation movies aren’t even remotely similar. Can you honestly say that Frozen and Tangled are legitimately made like Pixar movies? These are fairy tales that are built up on source material. Wreck-It Ralph comes closer, but it also relies on a huge list of existing entities to make its video game world come to life. And Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel Comic of all things.

disney pixar

Well, loosely.

Meanwhile, Pixar creates entire worlds. They make you feel for rats, monsters, and even the very idea of emotions. Their creativity is absolutely unmatched when they’re at their best. Even The Good Dinosaur pushes animation itself in ways Disney has barely touched (aside from Big Hero 6) with effects shots and photorealistic landscapes that actually contribute to the narrative.

They may be in the same sport, but Disney and Pixar are in two very different ballparks.

Plus Pixar’s films were so successful in the past, Pixar’s begun to make more and more sequels (Monsters University recently, plus Finding Dory, Cars 3, Toy Story 4 and Incredibles 2 coming soon)

Just keep in mind that Pixar has only made one lackluster sequel. We still don’t know if they can pull off another Toy Story 2, but I’d bet money that Incredibles and Finding Nemo are worthy of the challenge. Lussier sort of points this out as well and even makes the case that Disney is also making sequels for its popular movies with Frozen 2.

But none of that changes this basic fact: From a time when Pixar was ruling everything and Disney Animation Studios was making Treasure Planet and Home on the Range, things have once again aligned. Disney has not only gotten back to the high bar of quality set by Pixar, but that of its namesake, too.

I agree that Disney is back on track when it comes to recapturing its former glory, and Pixar’s own John Lasseter is a key reason why this is happening (Lussier also points this out). But the idea that Disney is somehow on the same level because they’ve made a few good movies in a row is a gut reaction, not a careful analysis. Pixar consistently makes superb, excellent movies, while Disney Animation makes good, sometimes great movies.

disney pixar

And if you don’t agree, then just try to tell me which current Disney movie even comes close to matching Toy StoryIncredibles, Finding NemoUp, and now Inside Out. Because not even Lussier could seem to do that.

One of these days I need to put together a full analysis on The Good Dinosaur and why I consider it to be vastly better than it gets credit for. While I’m not worried about Pixar’s foreseeable future because of the box office failure of that movie, it hurts to know that a movie with so much effort put into it is being considered worse than movies that are, at their core, deceptively generic.

At any rate, I’ll be seeing Zootopia for myself at a screening next week, and despite everything we just talked about, I couldn’t be more excited. Isn’t it great to know that both Disney and Pixar are putting their best efforts into animation right now?

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

 

The Pixar Theory: How The Good Dinosaur Fits In Pixar’s Universe

the good dinosaur pixar theory

The Storm provides.

In 2013, I wrote the first draft of The Pixar Theory, an essay that makes the case for how and why every Pixar movie takes place within a shared universe.

Just this past year, I published a book that finalized this draft into a more convincing and fleshed out read that you can check out here, but you can get a decent idea of what we’re talking about by reading the original article. Just keep in mind that much of what I wrote in that first blog post has been changed and improved on over the years.

Also this year, I posted how Inside Out (Pixar’s other 2015 movie) fits into the Pixar Theory, which you can check out here for even more context.

Yeah, I know it’s a lot of reading. As we talk about The Good Dinosaur below, I’ll do my best to add refreshers from past articles, so you don’t have to keep clicking around.

Needless to say, this post contains a lot of spoilers for The Good Dinosaur, so if you haven’t watched it yet and don’t want it spoiled for you, then check back later after you’ve had a chance to see the movie. You’ve been warned. 

That said, it’s time to address a question I’ve been getting for over two years now…

THE BIG QUESTION

Does The Good Dinosaur take place in the same universe as ever other Pixar movie? Including Toy StoryFinding Nemo, and even Cars?

the good dinosaur pixar theory

We’re going to address that question and then some. But first, let’s talk about something possibly more important. Let’s talk about what The Good Dinosaur contributes to the shared Pixar universe, beyond how it potentially “fits in.”

In other words, we’re going to talk about how The Good Dinosaur makes the Pixar Universe Theory better.

For one thing, it actually answers some major questions I’ve been asking since day one of putting this theory together. And I know plenty of people have wondered this too:

WHERE DOES “MAGIC” COME FROM?

If you’re at all familiar with this theory, then you’re plenty aware of how magic plays a mysterious role in the shared universe of Pixar. But one thing I’ve never fully understood is where it’s supposed to come from in a world where animals can cook and toys can talk.

I’ve claimed in the past that the wisps of Brave are where this magic originated, or at least point to magic tying in with nature somehow. I’ve also posited that wood is a source of magic, which is certainly evident given how doors have dimension-defying capabilities in multiple Pixar movies, including Monsters Inc, and Brave.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

Humans can use magic from what we’ve seen, or at least some type of it. In my book, I argue that the supers from The Incredibles received their powers through government experiments in order to be spies (at first), which would explain why they seem to have military experience and backgrounds in espionage.

But it’s unclear how technology could make a person fly. It’s unclear how Boo from Monsters Inc., could harness the magic of a door and travel through time. It’s unclear how humans of the distant future could find a magic tree with fruit that could transform them into animalistic monsters (a tidbit from the Monsters Inc., DVD).

But with The Good Dinosaur, we finally have a suitable theory for where this magic comes from, as well as a proper starting point for the Pixar Universe.

THE SET UP

The film opens 65 millions years in the past, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. The opening scene clearly shows us a world like the real one you and I live in, where animals eat from the ground and have primitive senses.

In reality, it’s believed by many that an extinction-level event is what caused the disappearance of the dinosaurs as we know them today. A predominant theory is that an asteroid wiped all of these creatures out, long before mammals like humans ever came to be.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

Pixar accepts this premise and turns it on its head by proposing a world where there is no extinction of the dinosaurs because the asteroid misses Earth entirely. Millions of years later, dinosaurs are still the dominant species on a very different-looking planet, while humans are just now arriving on the scene.

One thing I love about The Good Dinosaur, by the way, is how the film doesn’t rely on any exposition to illustrate what’s taken place since the asteroid missed Earth. We just see an apatosaurus family tending to their farm. Right off the bat, we learn that dinosaurs have become the most intelligent creatures in this world, able to provide shelter, fences, and resources for themselves and other creatures.

They’re smart. They use their appendages in unique ways to ensure their survival. It’s a simple reimagining, but it’s effective. And it parallels nicely with what we’ve come to expect from future animals in the Pixar Universe, notably Remy from Ratatouille, an animal who manages to become a better chef than any other human (in Paris, at least).

So right away, The Good Dinosaur hammers the point that when left to their own devices, animals can become just as intelligent as humans, as we also see in A Bug’s Life with Flik’s inventions and ingenuity ensuring the survival of his entire community.

In the same way, the apatosaurus family of The Good Dinosaur relies on the harvesting of food to get them through a harsh winter. Arlo, the main character, is the youngest of three siblings to the apatosaurus parents who run the farm. To “earn his mark,” Arlo is given the responsibility of catching a feral critter who keeps stealing their food.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

We eventually learn that this critter is what we know as a human. He’s a small, wolf-like boy who doesn’t appear to have his own language beyond grunts, and Arlo adopts him has his pet after the two get washed away by the river, far from home.

From there, the movie shows us their long journey home, and a lot happens over the course of these few weeks. We learn quickly that this part of the world suffers from frequent storms, some of them looking like typhoons. Later, it’s evident that very few dinosaurs are around, despite the fact that they’re the most intelligent species around.

We see a few dinosaurs along the way, but only in small groups, rather than herds. Towns and settlements are apparently scarce, but still alluded to. And every dino is obsessed with survival.

Forrest, the Styracosaurs, chooses to live in the wilderness under the protection of the creatures he carries around with him. This is played off as a joke, mostly, but it shows just how harsh life is in this world for reasons that are left to the imagination.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

It’s also telling that Forrest is just as fearful as Arlo, and with good reason. There’s not much food around, and though these dinosaurs are smart, some are being born with an innate (possibly learned) sense of fear.

We certainly get a feel for how scarce resources are by the time we meet the hybrid Nyctosaurus gang, led by Thunderclap. I say hybrid because like the other dinosaurs in this film, they have many traits that have evolved from the fossils we have on these creatures. In fact, every creature in Thunderclap’s gang is a different species.

These flying creatures are a “search and rescue” team who scavenge the helpless creatures traumatized by the frequent storms. “The ‘Storm’ provides” is not just a weird catchphrase for these beasts—it’s their religion. They worship the storm for giving them much-needed food.

Isn’t it strange that Arlo got sick from eating plants that weren’t fruits like berries and corn? Millions of years earlier, we saw dinosaurs eating grass just fine, so what changed?

the good dinosaur pixar theory

Before we get to that, it’s important to point out how the T-Rex family manages to survive. They have to raise and take care of a bison herd by themselves in order to have enough food, often fighting off vicious raptors desperate for their food. And the T-Rexes are constantly on the move, which probably has something to do with how the environment is too volatile for them to settle down anywhere, as well as the fact that they have to find enough food to feed their food.

WHY?

If dinosaurs have been evolving for millions of years, then why are they having such a hard time, now? In the opening scene, there are many dinosaurs all eating together without a care in the world, so something big had to happen between those good times and the bleak world we’re introduced to countless years later.

Well, I think it’s pretty simple. These dinosaurs are living in a “post-apocalypse” of their own civilization. At one point, they probably had plentiful resources to sustain a massive population, much like you’d expect. But what we see is a shifted environment. The lush jungles filled with edible plants that we know existed millions of years ago have vanished by the time we meet Arlo, just as they would have if the asteroid had hit Earth.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

 

Simply put, the world slowly became less optimal for the dinosaurs to roam, which the movie goes out of its way to illustrate. Arlo’s family is on the brink of running out of food because rival creatures like the mammals (AKA humans) are stealing their food and thriving in this new environment. These storms are a product of this change, as the world gradually corrects the imbalance of reptiles and mammals caused by the lack of an extinction-level event.

And many years later, the same “correction” will happen between man and another new species: machine.

In other words, Pixar loves cycles. And the Pixar Universe is as cyclical as they come. It’s actually pretty amazing how a simple movie like The Good Dinosaur offers such a close parallel to stories they’ve already told, Pixar Theory or no.

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER PIXAR MOVIES?

If The Good Dinosaur exists in the same timeline as movies like The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, then where’s the evidence of those movies being a result of this alternate universe where dinosaurs ruled the Earth much longer than planned?

What about fossils? Certainly, the Pixar movies would exist in a world where the fossil record is drastically different. What about these strange creatures in The Good Dinosaur that don’t look like any animals we’re aware of, like the dreaded cluckers?

Well, that’s where Up comes in.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

Early on in Up, we see that the famous explorer Charles Muntz has found a place in South America filled with plants and animals “undiscovered by science.” That place is Paradise Falls (or, “The Lost World” as the narrator puts it).

And what is the prize creature that Muntz discovers? It’s no dinosaur. It’s a bird (Kevin). And this is a bird that bears resemblance to the bizarre makeup of the “prehistoric” birds and raptor-hybrids we see in The Good Dinosaur, who have originated from this alternate universe where evolution was never halted.

And that’s not where the weirdness ends. Cut from Up is the explanation for why Charles Muntz is still spry and healthy, despite being much older than 80-year-old Carl Fredericksen. According to Pixar, Muntz found Kevin’s eggs, which somehow have the ability to slow down the aging process (my book covers this in more detail, but that’s the gist).

So Kevin’s existence, as well as this rare, superhuman ability, finally has an explanation. Somehow, the longer evolution of these strange creatures brought about magic  or at least something that resembles magic — that can eventually be harnessed by humans in various ways. After all, what is it really that makes those dogs in Up talk? And is it any surprise that Muntz comes across Kevin’s existence in the 1930s, not long before the sudden rise of supers with strange abilities?

the good dinosaur pixar theory

Remember: The Incredibles takes place in an alternate version of the 1950s and 60s. Mr. Incredible was very young or even born around the same time Charles Muntz was uncovering what could be “magic” properties. This could even serve as an explanation for why academia suddenly turned on Muntz, shaming him for what we know weren’t fraudulent discoveries. Perhaps this was a ploy to keep his research hidden from the world, explaining why only Americans are shown to have powers in The Incredibles.

Sometimes I get goosebumps when these things fit together a little too nicely.

OK, what about the strange animals mentioned earlier? Well, when we explore the dirigible in Up, Muntz shows off his collection of these strange creatures that are so rare, Muntz doesn’t expect Carl to know what they are.

They range from giant turtles and other aquatic life to hybrid mammal/dinosaurs that are reminiscent of Forrest from The Good Dinosaur. And we can now deduce that in the Pixar Universe, many of these creatures existed closer together in time, explaining why they’re displayed as a group.

Side note: One of the reasons I’ve waited to add all of this to the Pixar Theory is because I’m still researching how these creatures connect to other movies, including the angler fish that looks just like the one we see in Finding Nemo.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

So the exotic creatures from The Good Dinosaur apparently exist across multiple Pixar movies, and the absence of an extinction-level event seemingly provides an explanation for why animals have become so intelligent by the time we get to movies like Ratatouille.  And the movie even provides some hints as to why magic exists in the Pixar Universe, and we now know why said universe is alternate to our own.

Is that it?

Ha, no.

FOSSILS AND FUELS.

Oil. It’s something that Axelrod from Cars 2 addresses as the very thing we get from fossils, which he specifically defines as “dead dinosaurs.” But for whatever reason, the world runs out of oil in the Pixar Universe much sooner than we would by today’s standards.

Drilling the way we are today, there’s probably 50-100 years of oil left, which obviously excludes methods that dig much deeper. So really, we’re just running low on cheap oil.

In Cars 2, the sentient cars are running out of oil, entirely. And this makes sense for two major reasons:

  1. Mankind has a 200 billion population by 2105 (according to WALL-E)
  2. There’s less oil on Earth because (whoops!) dinosaurs died out more gradually.

Fossil fuels bring life to us from dead organisms, and we get a lot of it from extinction-events that compact them for easier extraction through drilling (for the record, my knowledge on this topic goes about as far as Armageddon).

Without the asteroid, fossil fuels are a bust.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

In The Incredibles, technology has progressed more rapidly by the 1950s, likely because scientists are seeking solutions to this energy crisis. Syndrome finds a way to harness zero-point energy, and “human” energy will be extracted by toys and eventually monsters indefinitely. The absence of other energy options like fossil fuels might provide an explanation for why human energy is so important in the Pixar Universe.

Yet in WALL-E, mankind lives in a loop for hundreds of years aboard starliners like the Axiom. They harness solar energy with advanced technology that allows them to avoid the laws of entropy (and you can argue that the machines are also kept alive by the humans themselves).

All this points to a world that figured out (much faster) that it needs an alternative to fossil fuels, which is why humanity is still around hundreds of years after the cars die out.

THE LEGACY OF DINOCO.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

So in the Pixar Universe, dinosaurs eventually die out because the world changes without them. But they’re remembered, nonetheless, mostly because humans have passed down their memories of the once predominant species.

By the time we get to “modern Pixar,” there are companies like Dinoco that use these forerunners as their logo. Toys like Rex and Trixie get played with, just as they would in our world. There are even statues in Inside Out that look like dinosaurs we see in the movie.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

The major difference is that in The Good Dinosaur, there’s a specific “passing of the torch” moment between Arlo and Spot. The symbolism is actually tragic in a way, as we see Arlo giving Spot over to a human family willing to adopt him. Unlike Spot, these humans wear furs instead of leaves and alternate between walking on all fours and standing upright, even teaching Spot how to do it by guiding him. This moment crystalizes the rise of mankind in contrast to the dinosaurs, who are quite literally on their last legs.

After all, Arlo will return to his farm and eke out a pretty humble existence as a herbivore. His family will barely survive, as his mother tells him bluntly early in the movie. Meanwhile, humans are already hunting and living off of the newer resources tailor-made for mammals. Pixar could have easily left these implications out, but instead they shine a light on the important role mankind will take up as the world continues to change.

That said, I suspect there are more mysteries to solve here. We have millions of years of history between The Good Dinosaur and Brave, so you can expect brand new narratives to rise out of those films as the studio continues to deliver excellent movies more than worthy of our time.

WRAPPING UP.

the good dinosaur pixar theory

That’s the long version of how The Good Dinosaur fits within the narrative of The Pixar TheoryBut I hope you’ve also gotten some insight into why it’s so important to the theory, in a way that not even Inside Out was able to accomplish, though it also was quite enlightening.

With The Good Dinosaur, we have firm answers for some of the biggest questions many have come across when digging into this theory. It gives us a reason why everything in Pixar movies is so different and set apart from reality. It alludes to the mysteries of magic with a little help from Up, further providing connections I didn’t think we’d ever get.

And we even got Dreamcrusher.

I hope you enjoyed the movie itself as much as I did. My full review is also available in case you’re not already tired of reading, which you can check out here. You’ve probably noticed by now that I’m absolutely in love with The Good Dinosaur, and the review expands more on all of that.

As for the easter eggs, this movie has proven to be quite the challenge when it comes to finding the elusive Pizza Planet Truck and A113. Peter Sohn (director of the movie) confirmed they’re in there somewhere, albeit in clever ways similar to how Brave managed it. I haven’t caught them yet, but I’ve heard the truck shows up as either a rock formation or an optical illusion from the positioning of several rocks and debris. Be sure to share your findings.

Let me know your thoughts, ideas, and rebuttals in the comments, and I’ll do my best to clear anything up!

Ready for more?

The conspiring doesn’t end here. Check out my other Pixar Theory posts from infinity to beyond:

  • The Pixar Theory – the full book available on paperback and ebook via Kindle, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, or just a PDF. This will cover the entire theory and every movie in the Pixar universe, updated from what you just read.

Thanks for reading this. To get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways, join my mailing list.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni

Review: ‘Creed’ is the First Sequel in Years that Actually Feels Like One

creed review

It might be too easy to say that Creed’s winning strength is how it will bring in new fans of the Rocky lore in the same way the original movie did in 1976. After all, that was clearly the intent.

The typical beats of the franchise make it to this “requel” – our hero is a longshot boxer who trains to go the distance against someone objectively better than him at the sport. But this time it’s with the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, the champion responsible for Rocky Balboa’s rise to fame and eventual rebirth in Rocky III.

Go on…Review: ‘Creed’ is the First Sequel in Years that Actually Feels Like One

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