The following is the final installment in an ongoing series of blog posts analyzing contemporary family films that the author has previously resisted seeing. This series is a sequel of sorts to a previous series called Finding Pixar: A Skeptics Journey, which applied the same treatment to the films of the Pixar Animation Studio.
Nothing left to do now but take us full circle. I started examining family movies in 2011 when I kicked off my original “Finding Pixar” series. My initial goal was simply to get people off my back about this whole Pixar phenomenon. That was back when the studio was on their legendary four movie winning streak and were routinely showing up on critics top ten lists and earning Oscar nominations and it felt like it was simply irresponsible to call myself a film buff without at least giving them a chance. Besides, I thought my skeptical outlook might bring an interesting perspective to them. Since then I’ve tried to further broaden my knowledge of family films by watching a decent sample of the better reviewed animated movies of the 21st century and I think it’s worked out pretty well. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the major trends in family films and I have a pretty good idea of how to review them. A funny thing happened though, pretty much the second I got caught up on Pixar the studio almost immediately started to lose a lot of relevance. The year I was doing the Pixar series the much derided Cars 2 came out, and they followed it up with moderately successful but still disappointing Brave, and then they made Monsters University, which was met with collective indifference. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Still, now that I’ve taken a survey of the rest of the landscape it seems right to go back to where I started this series and finally watch the last two Pixar movies I haven’t seen: Cars 2 and Monsters University.
Cars 2 (2011)
It’s no secret that the original Cars was one of the least beloved movies that Pixar made all through their first fifteen years of existence. It was a blemish on what was otherwise considered a pretty spotless track record and while it definitely did make money it wasn’t necessarily one of their biggest hits, at least not comparatively. At the time it was only their fifth highest grossing movie and today it sits as their ninth highest grossing movie. However, from Disney’s perspective the project as a whole probably still sits as one of their biggest successes for two simple reasons: 1. kids seem to love it and 2. it’s very easily merchandisable. Actually, I think there’s a third point as well: As much as the critics and the usual Pixar boosters might hate the movie it actually probably pretty well liked by parents in middle America. The movie is more or less about NASCAR and it is pretty overly about what you’d call “small town values.” Could a sort of cultural elitism be what’s to blame for the movie’s reputation as opposed to a true absence of quality? Well, there’s probably a little of that going on but only a little, for the most part I think it is fair to say that it’s one of Pixar’s poorest outings. It’s too long, its plot is clichéd, it has some really annoying characters, and the whole “talking cars” thing just really didn’t seem to work. I probably disliked A Bug’s Life more, but at least in the case of that movie Pixar had inexperience to blame for its shortcomings.
Still, Pixar saw the writing on the Disney ledger books and Cars became the first, but decidedly not last, Pixar movie outside of the “Toy Story” franchise to get a sequel. In fact, sequels are something of a running theme throughout the “downfall of Pixar” narrative. Cars 2 was going to be their second straight sequel after Toy Story 3, a film that was obviously very well received but that was different; Pixar had already proven that they could successfully sequelize Toy Story and besides, they had already earned a lot of cred by waiting over a decade to make a third installment in that series… and it wasn’t a series that everyone already hated. To me it’s an open question whether Pixar really should have been rewarded as much as they were for Toy Story 3. Personally, I thought that third installment was kind of a retread, a movie that probably existed for monetary reasons more than a lot of its fans probably wanted to admit, but for all the free passes that this studio seems to get they clearly found the limits of the critical establishment’s goodwill when they decided to make a Cars 2 because it was the first Pixar movie to receive outright negative reviews and then some. On RottenTomatoes the movie got a 39%, a number that sounds average-ish but which is actually really low given how charitably critics tend to receive big budget animated movies. To put that in perspective, the one and only DreamWorks movie with a lower score than that was the ill-conceived 2004 Finding Nemo ripoff Shark Tale. That’s right; all four Madagascar movies got better reviews than Cars 2. Turbo got better reviews than Cars 2. Bee Movie got better reviews than Cars 2.
Did the movie deserve to be received with that much disdain… maybe. I certainly would have given it a “rotten” review but when I finally watched the movie it seemed surprisingly… inoffensive. Truth be told, it probably wouldn’t have taken much to make the movie seem “better than I expected.” I went into the movie with subterranean expectations and anything remotely watchable would have felt like a success to some extent. Of course I had two advantages that the early critics didn’t have: 1. I never thought that Pixar was a goldenboy miracle worker, and 2. I knew going in that this was a doomed enterprise. The early critics on the other hand had just gone through a period of four straight supposed “Pixar masterpieces” and they needed to begrudgingly give the studio some benefit of the doubt despite all signs to the contrary and the fact that they had such high expectations for Pixar almost certainly played a big role in the critical backlash to Cars 2. There was however a certain contingent of critics, a sort of backlash to the backlash, which insisted that Cars 2 wasn’t really that bad and that if any other animation studio had made the film it wouldn’t have been as poorly received. Honestly, I think they might have had a point.
If Cars 2 has one major advantage over Toy Story 3 it’s that it couldn’t really be called a retread. Instead of making another story about a rich car stuck out in a small town when he wants to be out on a NASCAR track, this film goes international and indulges in an unexpected sub-plot inspired by the James Bond movies of all things. Two of the new cars are Bond style rigs equipped with gadgets like machine guns and oil slicks and on a whole the occasional spy movie set pieces are pretty well choreographed and are probably one of the more fun elements of the film. It doesn’t hurt that, for all the film’s storytelling shortcomings, Pixar has not skimped on the animation budget here and have done a pretty good job of making this into one of their better looking films on a technical level outside of the fact that they play a little too much into the 3D effects they seemed to be going (this was made right in the middle of post-Avatar 3D boom). Additionally, John Lasseter and his team seem to be having a lot of fun imagining what a car version of Tokyo, Paris, and London would be like.
That’s about where the positives end unfortunately, much of the rest of the film is about as problematic as I had heard. One of the worst things about the original Cars was a character called Mater, a rusted tow truck voiced by one of the most hated of all pop culture figures: Larry the Cable Guy. To say that Mater was annoying in the first movie would have been an understatement so you’d think that they’d have learned their lesson and eliminated this guy from the sequel. Instead of doing that, they expanded the character to the point where he’s pretty much the main protagonist. Think about that for a second: this is a $200 million dollar project fronted by the hippest and most critically acclaimed entity in Hollywood and at the center of it all is the dude who popularized the phrase “git-r-done” and starred in the film Delta Farce. Yeah, bad sign. I will give them this though, in the original film Mater was just a horrible side character dropped in to pander to rednecks, here there actually does seem to be a legitimate thematic reason to be including such a character.
Like the first Cars, this sequel is a sort of meta-commentary about the culture wars and the state of relations between urban and rural and features a hopeful/naïve vision of city people and country people setting aside their differences and becoming friends. I’m not sure how John Lasseter (who directs both movies and seems to be personally sheparding this franchise) came to care so much about small town America. The dude was literally born in Hollywood, California and grew up in a Los Angeles suburb and most of his co-writers also appear to be city slickers, but he does genuinely seem to romanticize the pastoral life and seems to think we should all have more respect for the hayseeds of the world and has developed a multi-milllion dollar animated franchise about talking cars in order to express this. There’s something oddly respectable about this, but I also think the whole thing is kind of profoundly misguided.
The first movie was all about preserving small town America… it didn’t make much of an argument as to why small town America needs to be preserved outside of its general glorification of the inhabitants’ sense of community, but I guess the message is inoffensive enough for the most part. This second movie is more about America’s image abroad and specifically about the way the more sophisticated Americans try to sweep the “ugly Americans” under the rug in order to look more cosmopolitan to our friends abroad. Here that’s represented by Lightening McQueen’s friendship to Mater as he embarks on a world tour to race against an Italian F1 racer. Over the course of this tour Mater quickly starts acting like the buffoon that he is and starts embarrassing McQueen via a variety of misunderstandings just generally dumb behavior. After he screws up one of his races because he’s too stupid to turn off his microphone while he’s bumbling through some spy antics he’s gotten himself in through a series of ridiculously stupid misunderstandings (such are the weaknesses of this film that I don’t even have time to get into how dumb the film’s mistaken identity plotline is) and McQeen blows up at him.
Later McQueen comes to regret this because friendship is important or something and Mater’s IQ conveniently seems to magically rise a couple of points at the end so that he can be made into something of a hero at the end and we can all learn a lesson about how we shouldn’t judge people by appearances. Give. Me. A. Break. No one was judging Mater on his appearance and they also weren’t pre-judging him because he happened to come from a rural area. They were judging him because the script does everything in its power to make him look like and ignorant motherfucking buffoon who screws everything up and leaves a trail of destruction everywhere he goes. You cannot spend two movies doing everything in your power to try to make your audience laugh at a character only to then try to turn around and make that same audience feel bad for having laughed at him. I don’t know why McQueen was friends with this clown from the beginning nor do I know why we as an audience should respect him in any way. If imparting that message was John Lassater’s goal then he failed and given that this is all meant as an allegory for modern society then he’s also failed at saying anything meaningful about that. I’ll grant you, I’m an urban sophisticate so I’m predisposed to hate this guy and am probably the kind of person this movie is trying to chastise for being a judgmental ass but if you’re going to try to set me straight about that you’re going to have to come with better ammunition than this.
Questionable messaging and humor aside, the movie still suffers from the same basic problem as the original: this whole talking cars concept is a fucking loser of an idea. These characters just look really weird and the world they inhabit just doesn’t make sense. I still don’t know whether these things are built on a conveyor belt or whether they exist because the cars are fucking each other, but it doesn’t make sense either way. There is no evolutionary reason for them to have developed to be just the right size for humans to fit in them and there’s also no reason for cars built by cars to have doors and shit. Also, why do the cars have tounges and why do they seem to eat and drink? John Lasseter was clearly a madman for thinking that this was a good idea in the first place, and if this series had been the pet project for anyone else at Pixar I don’t think it would have gotten a sequel sooner than The Incredibles or Wall-E or any number of other movies that people don’t hate. Aside from some small subset of children I don’t think anyone was really asking for this movie and the box office numbers seem to bear this out. The movie made about $191 million domestic, which is less than its production budget. The movie was saved by international audiences, who ironically seemed to take to the movie more than Americans (possibly because Larry the Cable Guy was mercifully dubbed over in foreign markets) but the fact remains that it’s the second lowest grossing Pixar movie and if you adjust for inflation it is the lowest grossing by a rather significant margin.
But this brings us back to the question I started with: “would the film have gotten so much bad press if any other studio had made it.” It’s a complicated question because I do think the movie deserved the bad reviews it got but I also don’t really think it’s that much worse than your average DreamWorks-style kiddie movie. Maybe the problem isn’t so much that Cars 2 was over-bashed so much as all those other animated movies have gotten a free pass because they’re cute and provide rudimentary entertainment for children. Additionally, maybe some of Pixar’s other movies have been over-rated because this is definitely a step down from their usual high standards but the gap isn’t quite as vast as some people make it out to be. It’s not that much worse than A Bug’s Life and while I do think it’s inferior to the first Cars it does improve on it in some ways simply by being a bit faster paced and a little less clichéd than its predecessor. So I guess at the end of the day I agree that this movie sucks but I don’t feel the same sense of betrayal.
Monsters University (2013)
Pixar lost some goodwill from Cars 2 but I’m pretty sure most critics would have been more than happy to forgive and forget if they had come out blazing with their next movie. Prior to that Pixar had had an amazing winning streak and it wouldn’t have been hard for most people to say “well, as long as they’re not wasting their time with that ridiculous franchise they’re gold,” but it quickly became apparent that their problems were deeper. Their follow-up, Brave, was certainly a financial success (the general public never seems to have really abandoned them) but it was met with a sort of critical indifference that no Pixar film had ever been met with. Granted, it did still win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but that almost certainly had more to do with a lack of competition that year than anything. The movie certainly wasn’t hated but almost no one was putting it on their top ten lists and there certainly weren’t any people demanding that it get a Best Picture nomination. So those were two straight movies that weren’t up to Pixar’s high standards and unfortunately they weren’t going to bounce back with their next project, a sequel to one of their previous successes that was met with an even bigger shrug than Brave.
First and foremost, Monsters University was to be looked at with suspicion simply because it was a sequel or rather a prequel. For the longest time Pixar was viewed as a bastion of integrity for their stubborn refusal to make unnecessary sequels and suddenly it seemed like they wanted nothing more than to pimp out their beloved movies in search of that franchise money. Monsters University was their third sequel in four years and as of this writing they’ve also announced plans to make four more sequels including continuations of the Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles franchises. This sudden zeal for franchise cannot possibly be a coincidence, these guys were selling out and of all the movies they decided to make into a franchise Monsters Inc. seemed like the strangest choice. Monsters Inc. was certainly one of the better movies of the studio’s early days but it was a flawed movie and as far as I could tell not an overly beloved one, at least not by the lofty standards of this studio.
I don’t hold a lot of reverence for the original Monsters Inc., which was a somewhat enjoyable film that was undercut by a concept that doesn’t really hold up to a lot of scrutiny and its prequel suffers from the same problem. The whole idea of scaring as an energy source always seemed a bit contrived to me, but the notion that such an occupation requires a degree from a four year university strains credulity even more. Frightening small children is not a difficult thing to do even if you’re not a monster. This is the same demographic that thinks it’s scary as hell to say “bloody Mary” three times into a mirror, scaring them is not a difficult task… hell, Pixar themselves seem to have gone to great lengths simply to avoid making their monsters too “scary” for their target audience. I remember the scare factory workers in the first movie having more of a blue collar/lunch bucket ethos, not an educated white collar feel. What’s more it’s never exactly clear what these monsters are being taught about the subject of scaring, in the final test at the end they all just more or less seem to jump out and growl at the kids at various volumes and are assigned relatively arbitrary scores. Not to mention the fact that the movie never seems to bring up that this subject that Mike is so passionate about and which the film never questions is determined to be evil in the earlier film that this is the prequel to.
Ignoring all that, the idea of making a Pixar college movie was probably misbegotten regardless of what these monsters are studying. The Animal House-esque college comedy is probably one of my least favorite movie genres even when the stars are humans and to make one into a G-rated animated movie seems like a particularly misbegotten idea. I think what I hate the most about this genre is that the universities in these movies seem to bear no similarity to my own college experience and probably doesn’t bear much relation to anybody else’s experience either… or maybe they do, I don’t really know. I lived off campus for most of my time at college and if fraternities play as big a role on campuses as they seem to in movies it’s something that I managed to completely miss. At the very least I feel like most of the aesthetics of the stereotypical college movie are really dated and that’s certainly the case with the tropes this movie plays on. This is set in a university that’s filled with overly perky people wearing letter jackets (as if this were a high school) and making bets with the crusty dean who is way too concerned with the minutia of individual students.
The characters in this movie have neither the vocal patterns nor the basic attitude and mannerisms of modern college students nor their busy ambition. This probably isn’t helped by the fact that the main characters are being voiced by a pair of actors who are 63 and 67 years old respectively. Granted some of the datedness of the film could be justified by the fact that, with this being a prequel, it could be seen as a period piece of sorts. Also, one could argue that the culture of the monster world simply evolved differently than it did in the human world, but I don’t quite buy either of those excuses simply because they don’t really do enough to make this university for monsters all that… monstrous. The actual campus in the movie looks like a carbon copy of any number of small town colleges; they do absolutely nothing to customize the architecture to match the fact that this institution was built by monsters.
This is not to say that this movie isn’t enjoyable at times because there definitely are some witty moments to be found in it. While a lot of the “extras” in the movie just kind of look like generic mascot type things, some of the more prominent characters are pretty interestingly designed. I was particularly fond of the university librarian with giant Kraken-like tentacles and the Helen Mirren voiced dean who as a sort of centipede-bat thing. I was also really amused by a side character called Art, who was voiced by Charlie Day and has this sort of elongated shape but with limbs. In general I think what’s most interesting about the movie is just how low-stakes it is. Most animated films seem to feel like they need to justify their $200 million price tags by adding a bunch of adventure elements that make them more in line with how $200 million dollar live-action movies play out. That makes sense (why pay all that money just to make something you could make with humans for $30 million) but it sure can make a lot of these animated movies feel awfully samey and there is something refreshing about seeing someone make one of these movies that doesn’t end with a big fight at the end against a snarling bad guy. Then again, at the end of the day this is probably more of a liability than a strength, this just feels more like an idea for a direct-to-video prequel or cartoon series that has somehow gotten the full Pixar treatment even though it probably doesn’t deserve it.
At the end of the days I don’t really know whether I really dislike this movie or not. I have plenty of problems with it, but I’d be the first to admit that some of them are a bit nitpicky, and it wasn’t necessarily unpleasant to watch. At the end of the day its biggest crime is just being insubstantial. In final analysis it’s pretty much exactly what it sounded like in the first place: an unnecessary sequel. There were probably a million better things that Pixar could have been doing with their time and most critics seemed to agree. The movie did manage to get a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, but that score is probably a bit misleading, judging from the general tenor of the conversation I’d be willing to bet that most of those “fresh” ratings were of the three-star “I guess it’s okay” variety. The film also became the second straight Pixar movie not to garner a nomination in the Best Animated Feature category, a loss made all the more embarrassing by the fact that the likes of The Croods and Despicable Me 2 did manage to make it. Odds are it did probably deserve to get in ahead of those two, but I approve of the animation branch making a statement that they weren’t going to let Pixar get away with laziness and judging by the general reception of it and the two movies that came before it neither were the rest of their fans.
When I started this series I had a pretty good narrative I was working off of: the decline of Pixar giving way to the rise of a renewed Disney Animation. Thing is, it turns out that it wasn’t that simple. The Pixar movies I saw certainly bore out that storyline, they were a pale imitation of that studio’s former self, but the Disney movies I saw didn’t really feel like they were quite good enough to replace them. But what’s really thrown a wrench in the gears of that narrative seems to be Pixar themselves, who released a movie called Inside Out a few months ago and by all accounts it’s a return to form. That movie is sitting at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and will most likely be a fixture of year-end discussions. I don’t know that this means Pixar is back for good, they still have a lot of questionable sequels on their docket but they also have some original stuff planned including a second movie for 2015 called The Good Dinosaur. I’ll definitely be checking out Inside Out when it comes out on Blu-Ray, until then though I’d say my distaste for later-day Pixar stands but I’m certainly hopeful about that development.
The Short Program
For old time’s sake I thought I’d step back and take a look at some of the animated shorts that have been attached to some of the Pixar and Disney movies I’ve been watching for the series. As soon as John Lasseter gained control of Disney’s animation studios one of the first things he did was announce that he’d start following Pixar’s lead by attaching short films to their theatrical releases because he “sees [that] medium as an excellent way to train and discover new talent in the company as well as a testing ground for new techniques and ideas.” I first noticed this when Disney’s shorts started getting nominated for Oscars. For the longest time I’d been killing it in my Oscar pools because I’d always bet against the Pixar shorts that everybody else blindly predicted. I had long assumed that this losing record would carry over to Disney but surprisingly enough it didn’t: not one but two of Disney’s shorts actually won the Best Animated Short Oscar in the last three years. Why was that? Were Disney employees engaging in block voting? Why didn’t they also do that with Pixar? As it turns out, the explanation is a lot more simple than that: Disney is just better at making shorts than Pixar is.
The first of the Disney shorts I saw (but not the first one chronologically) was “Get a Horse!” which was attached to Frozen. This was a very light-hearted and gag oriented short which used new technology while looking way back into Disney’s history. The film stars Mickey Mouse himself but actually uses the style from the original short that made Disney the studio that it is today: “Steamboat Willie.” The catch is that this short plays around with 3D and has the characters jumping in and out of a screen within a screen. It’s certainly not the most emotional or substantive of shorts, but it’s a lot of fun and was probably a good choice to put in front of one of their most popular movies. The next Disney short I saw was the Academy Award winning “Paperman,” which was in front of Wreck-It Ralph. This short is really cool. The film is set in the 40s and has a pair of young Urbanites flirting with paper airplanes and eventually coming together out of fate. It uses this really cool 2D/3D hybrid black and white animation and is just extremely classy as far as these things go. That it was attached to something as silly as Wreck-It Ralph is pretty weird. Finally there’s Feast, which was attached to Big Hero 6 and also won an Academy Award and while I didn’t like it as much as “Paperman” it was still pretty cool. It basically showed the evolving courtship between a man and a woman through the eyes of a dog that just wants to get better food from his owner. It’s a pretty cute little high concept thing with a heart.
The two Pixar shorts I watched, by contrast, seemed pretty lame. The short attached to Cars 2 is actually set in the “Toy Story” universe and is meant to be a sort of coda to Toy Story 3. That’s pretty lame, firstly because these short films should be an opportunity to do something a bit more creative and experimental than that and secondly because Toy Story 3 would seem to have been a pretty good place to simply let that series be… of course there’s also a Toy Story 4 in the works so that closure was probably going to get fucked over either way, but whatever. To be fair, Disney isn’t above this sort of thing either. There was a follow-up short to Tangled that was attached to the 3D re-release of Beauty and the Beast and a Frozen follow up attached to Kenneth Branagh’s live-action Cinderella. Still this is not a great sign for Pixar and is emblematic of their general decline. The short attached to Monsters University is at least a little more interesting in that it blends animated elements with live action footage. However, the short’s story is a super simple “boy meets girl” story in which the boy and the girl happen to be umbrellas which is… just a really weird idea. I don’t begrudge them for making what is essentially a glorified tech demo, but it still sort of pales next to some of the stuff they did in the past. I guess Pixar’s shorts have always been these simple little high concept experiments like that, but it feels like Disney has taken the short game to a new level and Pixar just hasn’t caught up.
And that will be the final installment of this series. When I embarked to watch the first eleven Pixar movies in my original series my goal was to catch up with a set of movies that people thought were great and to wrestle with weather or not I could get on board with this particular form of supposed greatness. Having done that I embarked on this follow-up series less out of an intense curiosity about the films at hand (although I was highly curious about a number of them) so much as a desire to become well versed enough in the trends and patterns of modern family films so that I’d have the vocabulary to write about them as well as I feel I can about more traditional films. I watched 32 movies in that quest, and I do think it’s fair to say that I’ve now seen most of the major mainstream titles in this genre and I do think I’m a lot more equipped to deal with these movies going forward although my idiosyncratic skepticism about the genre certainly isn’t going anywhere. There are definitely gaps in my knowledge; I’ve avoided most of the mediocrities of the Dreamworks variety and I’ve hardly looked at contemporary live-action family movies at all. Still, I feel like I’ve done my homework and it was fairly rewarding.
One of the big differences between this series and my Pixar series is that I was very much on the attack during the Pixar series. Those movies had been posited as masterpieces of cinema and it felt like I had a duty to really scrutinize them and decide if anything made primarily for six year olds can truly be described with such hyperbole and came to a conclusion along the lines of “probably not, but there’s certainly some good stuff there.” With this series I was mostly dealing with movies that hadn’t had unrealistic expectations built into them and I guess I was a little more open minded as I explored the works of the various studios and filmmakers involved. Over the course of the project I definitely encountered a handful of movies that were really good, a few that really sucked, but mostly I encountered a lot of three star “good” movies that never quite managed to be something truly memorable. As time went along I started to notice certain patterns emerge and some of these animated movies really started to seem like regurgitations of the same movie with different coats to paint put on top of them. I don’t know that that was the majority but it was distressing. In fact, this experience may have given me a bit of a renewed appreciation for some of those Pixar movies I nitpicked like mad before and maybe better recognize how different some of them are from the rest of the animated field. Anyway, my education about this genre certainly isn’t over, but now that I at least have a grasp on this stuff I do think this essay series has outlived its usefulness. So, I’ll leave you all with one final thing, a ranking of all 36 non-Harry Potter movies I’ve watched over the course of the two series along with “out of five” Letterboxd ratings:
- Wall-E ****1/2
- Ratatouille ****
- Coraline ****
- The Incredibles ****
- Big Hero 6 ****
- Toy Story 2 ****
- Monster House ***1/2
- Up ***1/2
- How to Train Your Dragon ***1/2
- Toy Story 3 ***1/2
- Fantastic Mr. Fox ***1/2
- Frozen ***1/2
- Monsters, Inc. ***1/2
- The Lego Movie ***1/2
- Rango ***1/2
- The Iron Giant ***1/2
- Frankenweenie ***1/2
- ParaNorman ***
- Brave ***
- Chicken Run ***
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Wear Rabbit
- Toy Story **1/2
- Finding Nemo **1/2
- Cloudy with a Change of Meatballs **1/2
- Monsters University **1/2
- Wreck-It Ralph **1/2
- The Prince of Egypt **1/2
- Kung Fu Panda **1/2
- Corpse Bride **
- Tangled **
- Cars **
- A Bug’s Life **
- Cars 2 *1/2
- Where the Wild Things Are *1/2
- Happy Feet *1/2
- The Polar Express *