Pixar

The Adventures of André and Wally B. (1984)

In their book The Illusion of Life (still the Bible of animation 35 years after it was written), Disney legends Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas set out 12 principles of animation. The first and most important of these is called “Squash and Stretch”. Basically, it boils down to this: In animation, a form can change shape, but never volume. Observing this rule gives characters weight and solidity, and allows your brain to forget that you’re just watching a flat two dimensional image. As long as the character observes the same rules as an object in the physical universe, the brain perceives it as an object in the physical universe. In essence, it becomes real.

This rule was, for a long time, a hard barrier for computer animation. Early CGI could create solid three dimensional looking objects no problem, but they were always static. Rigid. To give the illusion of a living thing, an image has to not only be able to move but to change its shape while keeping its volume consistent and trying to do that with CGI in the early days would invariably cause any computer to throw up its hands in frustration and get back to plotting the enslavement of all mankind.  All that changed in 1984. Well, not the plotting enslavement thing. They’re still doing that.

"Sooooon..."

“Sooooon…”

So in 1984, Lucasfilm had a subdivison called The Graphics Group, a group of computer scientists who had been recruited out of NYIT by George Lucas, who had decided that computer generated imagery might be useful in creating special effects.

As sentences laden with prophetic doom go, that's right up there with "That night, Alois Hitler decided not to bother with a condom."

As sentences laden with prophetic doom go, that’s right up there with “That night, Alois Hitler decided not to bother with a condom.”

The Graphics Group decided to create a short to demonstrate that CGI could compete with traditional animation. And when I say “short”, I mean “short“. This thing clocks in at a whopping 86 seconds.

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WALL·E (2008)

WALL·E  sucks!

“MOUSE WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

“MOUSE WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

the-angry-mob

Mob

riot

greece-riots

“MWAH HA HA HA HA! YES!! BURN THE INTERNET! BURN IT TO THE GROUND!

“MWAH HA HA HA HA! YES!! BURN THE INTERNET! BURN IT TO THE GROUND!

 

Sigh.

Okay, fine, WALL·E  doesn’t suck. I was just trying to get out of this review.

WALL·E is the kind of movie I actively dread tackling and the reason why (ignoble automotive abberations aside) I’ve largely steered clear of the Pixar canon in these reviews. They are possibly the most beautiful, perfectly crafted feature length animated movies ever made and that makes them absolute kryptonite to a Snarky Internet Reviewer like me. What the hell am I supposed to make fun of here? “HA HA, look at these idiots and their perfectly crafted and utterly charming meditation on the human condition”? I got nothing to work with here. Nothing!

This is what I see when I look at this movie.

This is what I see when I look at this movie.

Alright. Background. So, one day in 1994  John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft  sat down in the Hidden City Cafe for a cup of coffee, a chat, and to change the history of animation as we know it (as you do). From this legendary brainstorming session came the ideas that would eventually become A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and WALL·E. No doubt muttering “What the FUCK was in that coffee?” they then paid their bill, and left a generous tip for the waitress along with a cure for cancer that Lasseter had idly scribbled on a napkin. One thing you notice about WALL·E is that it’s not so much one film as two short films starring the same characters. The first is a film about the last robot on earth discovering humanity through its refuse and the second is a sci-fi romp about plucky robots helping the human race overthrow a dictatorial wheel. There’s a reason for that. The first half of the movie, with WALL·E putzing around on Earth,  arrived fully formed at that meeting and never changed all through the writing process. The second half, through, got re-written to hell and back and at one point was going to be about a robot uprising against evil aliens called “the Gels”.

anywayyyy

This means that WALL·E is the rare movie that not only has fans, but has fans of different parts of the movie. There’s probably someone out there who loves the first half of WALL·E utterly but doesn’t regard the second half as canon. That happens a lot with TV shows. Movies? Not so much. What do I think?

I think this movie is going to kick my ass and make me say “Thank you sir, may I have another?” Let’s just get this over with.

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Cars 2 (2011)

 

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

Previously on Unshaved Mouse:
Transformed into a rodent at a young age because of his inability to appreciate Beauty and the Beast by Walt Disney (who, as well as being the most influential figure in American animation, the legendary entrepreneur behind Disneyland and an icon of the twentieth century is ALSO a half mad immortal warlock with a broom fixation), the Unshaved Mouse began a quest to review all of the Disney animated canon classics. However, he strayed from the path destiny had set out for him and began reviewing non-Disney films which allowed for his arch-nemesis, the Horned King to be resurrected. Masquerading as the Mouse’s psychiatrist, Doctor Ernst Fiedelman, the Horned King has used his hypnotic powers to force the Mouse to review Pixar’s legendarily not-so-great Cars movies. And now you know why this blog gets a mention on TV Tropes “Continuity Lockout” page. Now read on!
"Hey Europe, do you think Mouse is alright? He's been in there a long time."

“Hey Europe, do you think Mouse is alright? He’s been in there a long time.”

"HEY! SOMEBODY! ANYBODY! HEEEEEEELP!"

“HEY! SOMEBODY! ANYBODY! HEEEEEEELP!”

"Hey Europe, do you think Mouse is alright? He's been in there a long time."

“Do you hear that?”

"He's fine."

“Oh no, Mouse is screaming like a lunatic. How unusual. Get back to work!”

"Hey Europe, do you think Mouse is alright? He's been in there a long time."

“Yeah. He does scream a lot.”

Do it Mouse! Review the movie!

Do it Mouse! Review the movie!

Look…

How about you just kill me? Seriously? What’s with all this faffing around? You’re obviously going to do it anyway, just do it. Why do you need me to review movies for you? It just seems like such an inefficient…

Do it Mouse! Review the movie!

NOW.

No one expected a sequel to CarsAfter that movie came out is was as if, as a society, we agreed to pretend that it wasn’t that bad. Critics tutted and wrote “must try harder” before giving the thing a passing grade and hoping that this was just a fluke. It was, we told ourselves, not a portent of things to come. Pixar had just stumbled a little. It was fine. We would forgive and forget. As long as they did not do that again. That was the deal. And as time went on, it seemed our faith was rewarded; Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3 put paid to any rumours of a Pixar decline. Decline? Are you kidding me? Those guys were better than ever! And then, one terrible day, we woke to a world with Cars 2 in it where once no Cars 2 had been.

We had a deal, you whimsical motherfuckers.

We had a DEAL, you whimsical motherfuckers.

So…how did we get to this point? How is it that what is universally recognised as the worst original Pixar movie has spawned a sequel, with another in the works and a spinoff which in turn has its own sequel in the works. Why is this thing, for want of a better word metastasizing?

toys

Because they can’t stop. They’re making too much money off it now. Bob Iger announced Cars 3 at Disney’s shareholders meeting to assure them that yes, they will keep doing the thing that makes the money happen. And I don’t begrudge them making a profit off their work. Not a bit. And I certainly don’t have a problem with licensed merchandise (can I gauge interest in “LAZY BASTARD KOOKABURRAS” T-Shirts?). But when you start making movies just to sell the toys, you might as well just change your name to Filmation and call it a day.

They began making ads, they will end making ads. And so the circle of life continues.

They began making ads, they will end making ads. And so the circle of life continues.

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Cars (2006)

 

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

"Sigh."

“Sigh.”

"You seem depressed Mouse. What is troubling you?

“You seem depressed Mouse. What is troubling you?”

"Doctor? Do you ever get...urges?"

“Doctor? Do you ever get…urges?”

"Ah. Well, at last we are coming to the heart of the matter."

“Ah. Well, at last we are coming to the heart of the matter.”

"What do you mean?"

“What do you mean?”

"Your inability to come to terms with your sexuality is the root cause of all your psychoses. This is great progress. Tell me about the fish."

“Your inability to come to terms with your sexuality is the root cause of all your psychoses. This is great progress. Tell me about the fish.”

"What? No, no. It’s not that."

“What? No, no. It’s not that.”

"Well, back to square ein."

“Well, back to square ein.”

"For the last few weeks I’ve been having these insane urges to review Cars. But I hate that movie. I hate it so much."

“For the last few weeks I’ve been having these insane urges to review Cars. But I hate that movie. I hate it so much.”

"And how does this make you feel?"

“And how does this make you feel?”

"And how does this make you feel?"

“I don’t know. Guilty, maybe?”

"Why guilty?"

“Why guilty?”

"Because deep down I know there are movies that are much worse, movies that I even enjoy. But I hate this movie more than all of them and maybe it’s just not as bad as I remember."

“Because deep down I know there are movies that are much worse, movies that I even enjoy. But I hate this movie more than all of them and maybe it’s just not as bad as I remember.”

"And why do you think that?"

“And why do you think that?”

"Well, because it’s Pixar! I mean, it can’t be that bad, right?"

“Well, because it’s Pixar! I mean, it can’t be that bad, right?”

" Mouse, our course is clear. Your subconscious is telling you to review this movie with an open mind. Come. Let us begin. I shall be with you every step of the way."

“Mouse, our course is clear. Your subconscious is telling you to review this movie with an open mind. Come. Let us begin. I shall be with you every step of the way.”

"Siiiiiiiiiigh."

“Siiiiiiiiiigh.”

What am I doing? The first Pixar movie I review on this blog and it’s Cars. That’s like finally deciding to see what all the fuss is about this James Bond guy and watching Die Another Day. A question I get asked a lot on this blog is “Why don’t you review the Pixar movies?” and the simple answer is they’re just too good. The canon Disney movies have a nice mix of classics, forgotten gems and duds to keep things interesting. But Pixar’s record of quality is just so high that I honestly think I’d struggle to keep the reviews varied and interesting. Except for Cars. I’ve always hated Cars. I’m always LOATHED Cars. But that’s just based on one viewing of it years ago and I’d like to think I’ve matured a lot as a connoisseur of animation since those days. Maybe I was wrong?  Maybe I judged it too harshly as so many of you in the comments keep telling me?
Maybe hell has frozen over? Maybe pigs can soar, soar like the mighty eagle?

Maybe hell has frozen over? Maybe pigs can soar, soar like the mighty eagle?

Alright, so a little background. Cars was released in 2006, after The Incredibles and before Ratatouille. It was directed by John Lasseter himself and Joe Ranft, who died before the movie was released in a car accident, ironically enough.
That's not what "irony"means!

“That’s not what “irony”means!”

Oh Nit. “Irony” doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s just a word people say.

A version of this story was knocking around Pixar as early as the completion of A Bug’s Life in 1998, and it was originally about an electric car in a world of gas guzzlers. As time went on it got postponed and reworked before finally getting released as Cars eight years later. And if that sounds like a long development time, remember that Disney is still releasing movies based on ideas they were toying with in the frickin’ forties.
Coming Summer 2034.

Coming Summer 2034.

Because Cars merchandise basically conjures money from the ether for Disney/Pixar, it’s viewed by some fans as a sell-out movie, a vulgar cashgrab. That’s…probably unfair. From what I’ve read, for Lasseter Cars was a genuine labour of love, combining his two greatest passions, cars and animation. Well, as we’ve already established here on Unshaved Mouse, nothing works better than taking two things you love and merging them together in an ungodly fusion to appall both God and man.
Pictured: Cars.

Pictured: Cars.

Let’s take a look at the movie.

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