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John Goodman and Billy Crystal voiced the main characters in Monsters, Inc., a Pixar 2001 release.

Mr. Movie: Fun for everyone

Pixar is a computer animation company started by George Lucas. The true genius of Pixar is not in the animation, which is excellent, but in the stories. The first five full-length Pixar films are absolutely guaranteed by Mr. Movie to appeal to everyone in your house, regardless of age!


Pixar’s first feature, Toy Story (1995), has already grossed over $325 million. It is, in a way, an old story — toys come to life (see, for example, The Nutcracker). But the film is completely fresh. Woody the cowboy has been the favorite toy of Andy, but may be replaced by spaceman Buzz Lightyear (“to infinity and beyond!”). And the other toys, which must resume inactivity when a human comes around, are a joy, from the toy soldiers to Mr and Mrs. Potato Head. Woody must be rescued from the horrible Sid next door and his nightmarish hybrid toys.


Most sequels fall flat. But Toy Story 2 (1999) is even better than the first one! In this film, cowboy Woody is mistakenly sold at a yard sale to a fiendish toy dealer. Off to the rescue again are Buzz and company. The trip through the toy store led by Tour Guide Barbie is alone worth the price of admission.


Between those two came A Bug’s Life (1998) in which Flik, a good-hearted ant, tries to save his colony from the evil grasshoppers by hiring tough killer insects. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for us) he hires a circus troupe by mistake. Full of delicious sight gags and great one-liners!


Despite its title, Monsters, Inc. (2001) is a delight from start to finish and won’t scare even the scarediest little kid. The Monster Factory is powered by the screams of kids frightened by monsters in their closets. But this ideal world is threatened when a real little girl named Boo inadvertently enters the factory and wreaks havoc all around. Boo is, well, the definition of cute. 


Last but not least comes Finding Nemo (2003). Nemo is a delightful little orange clown fish with a flipper defect who gets lost with his blue companion, a fish with no short term memory. From sharks who have joined Fisheaters Anonymous to schools of fish who arrange themselves in hilarious patterns, this is a joy all the way through.


In any Pixar film, be sure and watch all the way to the end of the credits, because the outtakes are really great. How can an animated feature have outtakes? Well, because Pixar put them there! 


Disney bought Pixar in 2006 and so far (cross your fingers!) they haven’t ruined it. 


All of the films in this column are now available on DVD and all are suitable for all ages. Mr. Movie has another bunch of Pixar winners for next time.