Pixar has yet to make a bad film. This isn’t an opinion, but rather a pretty obvious fact. Their remarkable run of feature films began with “Toy Story” in 1995, and it wasn’t like the movies in their original years or their intermediate era were anything to ignore (“Monsters, Inc.” remains a thoroughly charming movie, “Finding Nemo” an emotional experience and “The Incredibles” is their most flat-out fun movie). But as they kept producing winner after winner, their ability to mix artistic achievements with commercial success proved seemingly impenetrable. Even more impressively, Pixar began making movies that seemed like they just couldn’t work as well as their previous films and then wildly exceeding any rational audience member’s expectations: films about a rat who dreams to be a chef, a robot left alone after the end of the world, an old man trying to get away and a second sequel to their original work (making a third film in any series is risky, but by that point, risk was part of the game).
The only misstep, insofar as Pixar misstepped, was “Cars.” The 2006 film about anthropomorphic vehicles wasn’t bad, by any means, which is a nice way of saying it would be one of the better films released by the folks over at DreamWorks. For Pixar, though, it represents an odd outlier among their otherwise sterling filmography. Again, it wasn’t that the movie was terrible, but it was just so plain, so simplistic and so lacking in the genius and inspiration that had fueled “The Incredibles” two years before and powered “Ratatouille” the following summer.
And yet, their weakest film has a sequel that opens this weekend. Pixar’s films have been the best ones released during in each of the last four summers, and it looks like the streak comes to an end here. The critics have spoken, and more than half of them find “Cars 2” lacking. Continue reading