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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: Carl From ‘Up’ Is Insane And So Are You

up

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read

Word of warning: if you tag me in a tweet promoting a fan theory you “wrote,” then expect the Snarcasm treatment in the most lighthearted way possible .

So here’s the background. Two years ago, SuperCarlinBros did a fan theory video about Pixar’s Up that proposed Carl Fredricksen is “insane” for reasons that sound anything but. It’s an amusing video from a couple of good friends of mine, which is why it’s strange to see the theory popping up again…from someone else.

Jonathan Sim, a different writer, tagged me in his own write-up for a theory he didn’t write, but instead rewrote with credit to the SuperCarlinBros. Now that this is in written form and it’s coming out while this column is a thing, we get to dive into why the “Insane Carl Theory” is…well, to say it’s insane is giving it at least a little credit.

What if I told you that Carl Fredericksen was actually insane and this movie was a figment of his imagination?

I’d tell you that it’s spelled “Fredricksen.” Then I’d tell you that at least 20 million “fan theorists” have been speculating that any given piece of fiction is “in someone’s head” since Descarte.

So, we start off this theory with that scene in Up where Carl assaults a man with his cane.

It’s a walker with tennis balls, but alright.

This is assault and battery as the man is later seen with blood on his forehead. And we later see Carl in a courtroom. And they sentence him to…a nursing home?

We’re not about to have a discussion about legal precedent are we—

Doesn’t it seem strange that this old man has committed what can be considered third degree assault and battery and his sentence is a nursing home?

Well, no, if we use our thinking caps. As you state, this is third degree battery, which is a misdemeanor. As in, not a felony. Most states will either put you in jail for 30 days and/or make you pay a $500 fine. Depends on the judge, though.

Now, let’s look at the situation Carl is in. This is, by all reasonable accounts, his first offense ever. In addition, a huge corporation has a clear stake in getting him out of his house. So we can surmise from the wordless court scene that BnL’s lawyers have arranged to make a deal that forces Carl to stay at a retirement home so that they can bulldoze his house. We even hear from the police officer in the next scene say that Carl doesn’t seem like a “public menace,” likely referencing the arguments made to kick him out.

You could also consider that Carl doesn’t have the money to pay the fine (he’s a balloon salesman, after all), but the state would rather put him in a retirement home than jail because of his age and the fact that he lives alone. This seems like a pretty logical ruling from a judge who has to sentence an old man without a criminal record.

I mean, he should honestly just receive a jail sentence or something like that. But a nursing home is not legitimate.

Let’s not pretend nursing homes don’t exist as punishments.

So, Carl actually was sentenced to a prison.

Wait, what? No he wasn’t?

And when this happened, he had lost everything. He lost his wife, his freedom, and now, he loses his mental health.

Um…no? The police officer told him that the retirement folks would pick him up in the morning. Where exactly does his mental health collapse for you? And why are you convinced he’s gone insane in the first place, just because he’s sad? Is that your only criteria?

What Carl then does next is absolutely impossible: he lifts up his house with balloons.

At this point, that seems way more plausible than what you’re suggesting.

Well, first off, that would mean he was a really bad balloon salesman.

Oh, I get it. Jonathan is just joking with us. Right?

Right?

Second, according to production notes from the film,

No, no, no, hold up and don’t you dare switch the topic. Carl is a bad balloon salesman? How does that…what? Because…he has a bunch of balloons? That means he’s bad…at selling them..but he’s retired…

WHO ARE YOU?

So, in one night, we’re expected to believe Carl had the stamina and physical ability to fill that many balloons with helium?

No, we’re expected to believe he already had those balloons ready to inflate and finish tying up, secretly. Remember, he and Ellie were planning on taking the house to Paradise Falls, hence the drawing of the house…on Paradise Falls. But they never did because she got sick, and the point of this next scene is to show that Carl’s willing to embark on the adventure they always dreamed of, but he’s not really alone because Ellie is the house and—

Oh sorry, you were saying?

He can’t even walk down the stairs without his machine.

Right. That means all the other times he’s running around and attacking construction workers were all a hoax. Which part of the movie is “in his head” again?

And not only that, but lifting a house with 10,297 balloons is not possible.

Neither is having a head shaped like a perfect rectangle, but you don’t question that for some reason.

Up co-director Pete Docter recently told Ballooning magazine

Recently? You mean in 2009?

that technician Pixar estimated

Who is technician Pixar?

it would take 23.5 million party balloons to lift a 1,800-square-foot house like Carl’s.

The funny thing is that in this same article, they point out that if the house did have enough balloons to lift the house, it would shoot off like a rocket rather than leisurely float away. So Pete Docter’s idea here never would have worked in the real world, but they went with it anyway because they like to dream big. Which doesn’t mean Carl’s dreaming big, an argument that Jonathan (both of them) haven’t even gotten to defending yet.

And then, when he is on his way there, he finds a child on his doorstep.

Thank goodness for babiesovernight.com.

He and Ellie never got to have children in their lives, and this crazy dream sequence (or you can call it heaven if you want) is giving him everything that he didn’t have before.

Let’s break this down. First, Jonathan just sneaks in yet another fan theory about Up that suggests Carl is dead the whole time. Which has been debunked by almost everybody because it’s such an overused fan theory that no one cares anymore.

Second, why would Carl be dreaming of a kid he’s already met? And that he hates? And if the kid represents what he wants in life, why does he try to get rid of the kid throughout the entire movie?

Carl and Ellie grew up loving adventurers and exploring and this kid shows up at the door, who loves adventuring and exploring and would be an ideal, perfect child for Carl and Ellie. 

Thanks, IMDB.

But that’s not the main reason why I don’t buy this.

Don’t buy what? You don’t believe what you just said?

See, Russell said that he saw a snipe (a type of bird) and chased it under his porch. However, that was when Carl lifted up his house and he remained on the house.

You don’t see Russell either, but you know he’s still there. Also, you know, birds fly.

I don’t see how it would be possible to get under that porch, and when he noticed the house lifting up, why would his immediate response be to grab on? It doesn’t make sense, and therefore, Carl’s mind is simply creating this vision for him.

Russell didn’t “grab on,” he clearly was hiding in fright. We don’t see him because the filmmakers wanted to keep his presence a surprise. We would have been distracted if Russell had been shown. This is a plot hole in the movie, not a definitive piece of evidence that Carl is imagining the whole movie.

The only kid that gets into Carl’s house is the kid that somehow knows how to get from the United States to South America, navigating with a house he’s not familiar with steering.

He uses his GPS to navigate. And he’s steering a floating house, not a B52. Movie logic aside, the nonsensical premise of Up is deliberate. To suggest that it’s all a fabrication is pointless,  because the movie is already a fabrication.

There is a scene in which Carl tries to drop Russell into the street by suspending him with a rope while about six stories off the ground. Carl then drops Russell into the street by accident, but in the next scene, he shows up in Carl’s house again, completely unharmed without a single scratch.

Jonathan…did you watch the movie? Because…Jonathan, if you watched the movie you’d know that this happened IN AN ACTUAL DREAM SEQUENCE CARL WAS HAVING.

See, Carl was considering dropping off Russell, but he DREAMED the scenario and realized it would harm Russell.

And we also have the character of Kevin.

Oh, don’t you even dare bring Kevin into this.

when we first meet Ellie as a child, we can’t really tell whether or not she is a male or female.

Yes you can? True, she’s a tomboy and it might not be immediately clear to everyone, but it doesn’t take long.

Russell names the bird Kevin (a male name), but we find out at the end of the movie that she is a female, as she gives birth.

You’re not about to say Ellie is the bird, are you? She’s already the house, mate.

To add on, Kevin can have kids, but Ellie had a miscarriage.

(Voice of Buzz Lightyear) Themes! Themes everywhere!

And right when Carl lands in Paradise Falls, he meets his childhood hero: Charles Muntz.

…who is the inspiration for why Carl wants to go to Paradise Falls in the first place.

Muntz is 92 years old during the main events of the film and though there are people who live up to 92 years old, he cannot be this impressive.

Why not? We see him struggle in his fight with Carl later on, so it’s not like he’s the pinnacle of health. Wouldn’t a life of living off the land make him hardier?

Anyway, it doesn’t matter because a dropped plot point of the movie is that Muntz’s age was slowed down by Kevin’s eggs, explaining how he’s still alive at such an old age.

He is living in the jungle with no healthcare, no way to treat any possible diseases, and not a lot of food.

OK, this is actually offensive. You do realize that people in other countries who have no modern medicine are still able to live a long time, right? And he lives on a zeppelin with tons of food shown onscreen, because his dogs take care of him.

And there is also the fact that when Carl points out a skeleton of a giant Somalian leopard tortoise, Muntz says, “I found it on safari with Roosevelt.

Here we go.

There are two likely Roosevelts that he was talking about: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt.

To even suggest it was FDR is laughable, but go on.

Now, Theodore Roosevelt wouldn’t really make sense because Muntz was born in 1911 and Roosevelt died in 1919. That would mean that the oldest he could have been while hanging out with Roosevelt is eight years old and apparently, Roosevelt was going on safari and cheating at gin rummy games with eight year old kids.

Technically, Charles could have been a child on safari exaggerating his role. And kids are certainly capable of playing card games. But the more likely explanation is that Charles went on safari with Roosevelt’s son, Kermit Roosevelt, who was also an adventurer who actually went on African safaris.

OK, now hopefully Jonathan will reveal all of the evidence pertaining to Carl’s mental health by—

This means Carl was either insane, or, as other theories have said, he could have died and this may simply be his ascend to heaven. Russell, Kevin, and Dug are all just in his imagination.

That’s it? That’s the whole thing? This entire fan theory is just one argument over and over again: the movie is a bit silly, so that means it’s a dream.

This isn’t a fan theory, it’s a fan guess. And not a good one at that. There’s nothing about how Carl does actually have some clear psychological problems with thinking his wife is a house and how his attachments clearly blind him to reality over the course of the film. But rather than address anything like that, Jonathan just tells us it’s all a dream because movies aren’t real. Or something.

So in a way, doesn’t this mean we’re all insane for believing them?


Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


Which Pixar Romance is the Best? – The Pixar Detectives

This week on Pixar Detectives, Kayla Savage and I put out some huge Pixar announcements and debated the BEST Pixar romance. We talked about Pixar in a Box, played a quiz game with the live audience (Which Pixar couple are you?) and gave away an awesome Pixar mashup shirt.

So…which Pixar romance really is the best? Among our suggestions, we talked about Marlin and Coral from Finding Nemo, Carl and Ellie from Up, WALL-E and Eve from WALL-E, Buzz and Jessie from Toy Story, and a bunch more. Let us know in the comments which romance you think is the overall best!

If you want to enter our weekly giveaways, be sure to tune in live every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. (Pacific). Follow the link below or just click the video above. We give away Pixar-related goodies like shirts, books, blu-rays, and tons more. And we’re always open to new suggestions for prizes you all might be interested in!

Hope you enjoy the show, and don’t forget to like Super News on Facebook, so you can check out all kinds of awesome shows and giveaways coming out daily. That includes vide game live streams, other Disney talk shows, superhero news, and plenty more. See you all next week!


Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

Or just say hello 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: ‘Inside Out’ Is More Than Some Feelings

I’ve written a more comprehensive review for Inside Out elsewhere, but I thought it would be fitting to craft a shorter review for this site’s readers, many of them being longtime fans of Pixar Animation Studios.

Yes, Inside Out is the latest Pixar feature. It takes you inside the head of an 11-year old girl and tells you her story through her five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.

Directed and produced by the team behind Up, this new story is all about the struggles of growing up. Its lessons aren’t cliche, however, in that the final message isn’t simply “do whatever makes you happy.” This is a staple of children movies that Inside Out rightfully tosses in favor of emotional truth.

inside out review

The movie doesn’t pull its heart-wrenching punches, but it’s also decisively clever and humorous. I haven’t laughed this much during a Pixar movie since Finding Nemo, which I consider Pixar’s funniest film ever. For that reason and others, I consider Inside Out Pixar’s overall best movie since Finding Nemo, and I’ve heard many say that the movie even surpasses that level of praise.

It’s easy to give Inside Out a little too much credit. Many of us have been yearning for an original Pixar feature of this caliber for years, and I’ll admit that I wanted this movie to be good. But I know myself, and I think I’m giving Inside Out the proper amount of praise based on both viewings I’ve had of the film so far.

Grade: A.

This is due to some minor nitpicks I have, including a missing antagonist for the movie and some of the film’s over-reliance on themes from other Pixar movies. If you’re curious about the score, then you can check out my full review on Moviepilot, where I discuss the film in detail.

Extra Credits

  • Yes, the movie will likely make you cry, so I suggest you pick a 3D showing that will hide your eyes.
  • Richard Kind voices Bing Bong, who has some of the film’s biggest laughs, next to…
  • Anger. Lewis Black killed it as my favorite emotion of the bunch.
  • I watched this movie in San Fransisco, which is where the movie takes place. This hyped up the setting for me, in that I recognized some of the locations they took right out of the map. I confirmed this with Ralph Eggleston, the art director, when I met him a few months back. Great guy.
  • LAVA is a fun short, especially if you love the ukulele as much as I do. For that reason, it’s a lot higher on my list of favorite shorts than some others, but I also didn’t love Blue Umbrella as much, so my opinion is weird.
  • Yes, this fits into the Pixar Theory. More on that later.

Inside Out was directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Ronnie del Carmen. It was produced by Jonas Rivera and stars Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Lewis Black (Anger), Bill Hader (Fear), and Kaitlyn Dias (Riley).

The Pixar Detective: Chapter 22

Not caught up yet to this chapter? Check out our Table of Contents to get your fill.

Hey awesome readers, I hope you’re all mentally prepared for the slew of new chapters we’re finishing Pixar Detective with. Finally, after over a year of planning, the story is coming together, and Chapter 22 is just the beginning of what’s to come.

Only the most exhaustive Pixar fans will pick up on some of the secrets and easter eggs I’ve hidden in this week’s chapter, and I have no doubt some of you will spoil them in the comments.

pixar detective chapter 22

As always, be sure to send your thanks to our illustrator, Kayla, for making these incredible sketches for the chapter and bringing Pixar Detective to life.

Let’s get started!

Previously, on the Pixar Detective!

Five months have passed since Stevin and Wallaby returned to present-day San Francisco, their home, to continue the investigation to find Mary. Along with them, Sadie and Sumner have begun to find a home here.

But the mission isn’t over. After months of planning, Stevin finally makes his move by seeking out a mysterious man named Kevin, who once aided Mary in collecting the materials she needed to travel in time without the help of Alec Azam. Now Kevin is helping Stevin and the others, and they’ll be traveling in style.

Click here to read Chapter 22: The Unforgivables.

 

Ready for more? Visit the Table of Contents to read Chapter 23.

You can use the prompt on the sidebar to subscribe for updates, or just follow me and Kayla on Twitter to stay connected – @JonNegroni – @KaylaTheSavage

 

Thanks for reading! What did you think of Chapter 22?

Ranking the Pixar Movies By Box Office Success

Trying to compare the Pixar films according to quality and personal affection is a pointless task, in my opinion. Of course, I could easily tell you what my favorite films are and rank them, but how does that really help anyone?

Everyone has their favorites, but everyone also loves lists and comparisons. So for the sake of this post, I’m pointing out how successful each one was compared to the other. Prepare to be surprised.

To crunch the numbers, I added the domestic and foreign totals to provide the worldwide figures. I also adjusted everything according to inflation in 2014, so you’re really seeing which films made the most value in their day.

I did not rank these in order of profitability, as in I don’t point out how much it cost to make the film versus how much it made. Instead, I kept it simple and only pointed out how much money the film made overall.

Let’s begin!

 

#1. Finding Nemo

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Many assume that Toy Story 3 was the first Pixar film to make over $1 billion worldwide, and they’re technically right. In 2003, Finding Nemo just barely came short of the billion mark with $936 million made worldwide. But when you adjust for inflation, the underwater animated film actually made $1.2 billion worldwide, easily surpassing the threequel.

Why? This is pretty impressive considering the fact that Finding Nemo had fewer advantages than more recent Pixar films. This was before foreign markets were becoming the brunt of Disney Pixar’s audience. In fact, I’d argue that it opened the floodgates to how well U.S. films can perform overseas.

Put simply, Finding Nemo benefitted from having extremely wide appeal. While movies about toys, superheroes, and balloon houses are fun concepts, many people of different ages found a reason to check out this film about a father finding his lost son in an endless ocean.

 

#2. Toy Story 3

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: The possibly final entry in the Toy Story franchise is also its most successful. It was the first Pixar film to make $1 billion worldwide ($1.1 billion adjusted for inflation), and unlike Finding Nemo, its gap between money made domestically and foreign is much narrower.

Why? Waiting a decade to finish the franchise was a smart decision on Pixar’s part. Strong word-of-mouth, the return of the original cast, and an emotionally wrenching premise made this a can’t-miss film for the countless people who fell in love with Toy Story over the course of 15 years.

 

#3. Up

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: It didn’t just collect Oscars. Up pulled in an impressive $731 million worldwide. Adjusted from 2009, that’s over $812 million.

Why? The film had broad international appeal thanks to its setting, and it came at a time when Pixar was hitting its stride with back-to-back hits. It also benefitted from a strong opening that had critics raving over the score and memorable characters. That, and this was also the first Pixar film to reap the benefits of 3D ticket prices.

 

#4. The Incredibles

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Following the success of Finding Nemo was an impossible task, so leave it to the superhero film to accomplish just that. The Incredibles made a whopping $631.million worldwide in 2004, which is actually $795.8 million by today’s standards.

Why? One of the main advantages of mashing up several genres like superheroes, family drama, comedy, animation, and spies is that you can generate a ton of interest in your movie. Families and young adults came out to this film in droves, and it didn’t hurt that audiences were still enamored with the success of Finding Nemo.

 

#5. Monsters University

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: This 2013 prequel to Monsters Inc. narrowly surpassed its predecessor by raking in $743.5 million worldwide ($760 million adjusted for inflation). It’s important to note that it made the bulk of its money overseas, like many of the recent Pixar films.

Why? As a rule, sequels and even prequels tend to build upon existing audiences, no matter the downgrade in quality. Plus, the film was quite enjoyable and a step up from Pixar’s previous outings (Cars 2 and Brave).

 

#6. Monsters Inc.

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: This is the Pixar film that showed critics just what the studio was capable of, as it was the first of the films to spike in profit. The 2001 film made an impressive $562.8 million worldwide ($756.4 adjusted), with an almost even split between domestic and foreign markets.

Why? This film came out after a 1-year hiatus for Pixar, and it had been three years since the studio had released a non-sequel. Thanks to Monsters Inc., the momentum for Pixar as it entered the 21st century was set early, and high.

 

#7. Ratatouille

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Only Pixar can make a film about a rat learning to cook in Paris a huge success with over $623 million made globally ($716.7 million adjusted).

Why? Foreign markets definitely carried this film, representing about 2/3 of the profits. Also, audiences who were displeased with Cars were happy to see a Pixar film with more traditional storytelling (even though it was anything but).

 

#8. Toy Story 2

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: That’s right, one of Disney’s first forays into a sequel (they’re notorious for not doing big screen sequels at all) was a Pixar film. And it totally paid off. Toy Story 2 ran away with $485 million worldwide. These days, that’s nearly $700 million. Keep in mind that this was in 1999; a time when the box office competition was fierce.

Why? As we now know, the film was just as good if not better than the original, and that prompted millions of people who loved the first film to go see this one. And it helped that VHS sales build a lot of hype for this film four years after the original. The lesson, of course, is that there should be a lot of time in between sequels for the sake of direction and precision. Not many people have learned this lesson, sadly.

#9. Cars 2

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Pixar’s follow-up to the record-breaking Toy Story 3 was yet another sequel. And they suffered for it. Cars 2  brought in about $559 million worldwide, or $593 million adjusted for inflation. A little more than half of what Pixar made the previous year.

Why? Some are wondering why it made so much when it shouldn’t. Others may be wondering why it didn’t make as much. Both questions are answered by the fact that the film was both helped and hurt by its predecessor, Cars. Yes, it had plenty of interest from fans of the original, but the problem was that there weren’t that many fans anyway. But it still made good money, especially overseas. This was partly due to the various locales seen in the film and Disney’s expertise at managing foreign markets by 2011.

 

#10. WALL-E

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: This may surprise a lot of you, but WALL-E only brought in $521 million worldwide. Adjusted for this year, that’s only about $576.8 million.

Why? Oddly, this is celebrated as one of Pixar’s best films, both by audiences and critics. And yet it is one of the least successful. Sadly, this is mostly because the film came out during the onset of Great Recession, which badly hurt money made domestically. On top of that, many moviegoers were put off by the film’s lack of dialogue, especially in the early parts of the film.

 

#11. Toy Story

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: The first of the Pixar films performed pretty well for a forerunner. It made $362 million worldwide, with most of that money being domestic. Nowadays, that translates to about $566 million, which is nothing to scoff at.

Why? Unlike its successors, Toy Story didn’t have the luxury of Pixar being a household name. It earned its success solely from being a good film and shattering expectations as the first computer-animated film ever. In fact, I’m more surprised that this isn’t lower on the list considering the risk that was put into making it. Toy Story truly is a miracle of film.

 

#12. Brave

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Still hurting from the disappointment that was Cars 2, this 2012 film also disappointed with a meager $539 million worldwide total ($559 million adjusted). That’s still pretty good, though it is certainly low compared to the rest of the Pixar family.

Why? Entire research papers could be written about the mystery surrounding Brave‘s underwhelming premise. I’m not sure I fully understand why it fell short for me, personally. Whatever the reason, Brave just didn’t click or resonate with people as deeply as previous Pixar films, which made this an animated outing for only a certain group of moviegoers (kids and their parents looking for a getaway).

 

#13. Cars

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Released in 2006, Cars didn’t really deliver for Pixar as much as they hoped with a decent $462 million worldwide ($546 million adjusted). Of course, it was still incredibly profitable for Pixar, seeing as it only cost $120 million to make.

Why? You know a film has problems when it falls so short after two massive hits like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. It even had the benefit of coming along after a 1-year hiatus. Still, audiences weren’t impressed with the premise, and Cars ultimately suffered. Strangely, the sequel was still green-lit and made a bit more money years later.

 

#14. A Bug’s Life

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Pixar’s second film was great in its own right, even though that didn’t necessarily translate to box office sales. It made just $363 million worldwide, which is about $530.5 million adjusted for inflation. Interestingly, it made more money overseas than Toy Story did, and it was the first of the Pixar films to make most of its money in foreign markets.

Why? Put simply, the novelty of computer animation had worn off a bit. So A Bug’s Life had to rely on just being a good movie. That’s why it made as much as it did, but the basic fact is that a film about toys coming to life was more appealing than a film about bugs fighting grasshoppers.

 

Conclusions:

One of the most interesting things about this list is that even the lowest entry of Pixar’s films is a box office success that stands up to most of the films that are coming out today. That means in 14 films over the course of 19 years, Pixar hasn’t had a single flop. No other studio in history can compare to that kind of consistent success.

In the years to come, we’ll see if Pixar can maintain the status quo or make another huge leap forward. Inside Out premieres next summer, and it could prove to be the next Monsters Inc. in terms of reviving the studio’s creative fortunes. And with new sequels like Finding Dory and The Incredibles 2 on the horizon, along with some other originals like The Good Dinosaur, Pixar may be poised for its first renaissance.

ranking  the pixar movies

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