Think family movies can’t be tearjerkers? Think again, because these Pixar flicks will break your heart.
The goal of this series is to show that being “manly” and being disconnected with your emotions do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. While the approach to these articles is one of comedy and satire, the emotional core of these movies is very valid. Manly movies make guys cry, for example:
What was first thought of as only for children and families, Pixar has since positioned itself as pure art. With the exceptions of Cars 2 and Monsters University, every Pixar movie is touching, gorgeous, evocative and entertaining. Children can enjoy the physical humor, parents can enjoy the adult humor. Cinema lovers can appreciate the crafted plots and casual movie goers can enjoy the brisk pacing. It’s some of the best work to ever come out of Disney as a distributor/parent company, and even manly men don’t have to feel embarrassed for admitting they enjoy Pixar’s films. What they might have pause with is admitting that these movies make them cry, but that’s where we come in.
1. Toy Story 2
While the Nazi Germany vibe of the third Toy Story felt a little heavy-handed for me, I feel that the second one in this trilogy (soon to be a quadrilogy) stands as the best. The humor is spot on, the graphics were so good that the theater audience I viewed it with audibly gasped at parts, and the plot felt natural and welcome. The best part of the plot is also what makes this one so heartbreaking: if toys are sentient, what do they do when we grow out of them? It boggles my mind to think of what a sentient mind would do if forced to lay still under a bed for years on end.
Then this movie answered that question. Basically, Jesse the cowgirl reveals a never-ending loop of raising hopes of human interaction and crippling disappointment when none is offered. These creatures imbued with life have existences that are eternal and cruel. Plus the song was heartbreaking.
You know, this film is great once you get past the beginning. An old man psychologically and physically running away from the world, forced back in by a young boy who just wants a father figure. Between meeting and becoming disillusioned by his childhood hero and having a jungle adventure with strange birds, talking dogs and a flying house, the old man in this film has character growth that is uncharacteristic for someone set in their ways for so many years, which is refreshing.
But then there’s the beginning. In a largely silent montage we learn how boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy and girl either miscarry or find out they’re sterile…hold on. This is made by Disney? So with no children, these two live full lives but never get to take the trip they dreamed of as kids. So the old man buys the tickets and has them at the top of a hill. His wife walks up the hill AND HAS A HEART ATTACK ON THE WAY UP! No kids and possible miscarriage, trip of their dreams within arm’s length only for one of them to die first…as I said, it’s a great film if you can get past the beginning.
My personal favorite Pixar film, this is a remarkable movie. The main character can barely talk, and the first third of the film has no speaking at all. Yet, it conveys more emotional complexity and world-building than most films have in their entire running time. Being the last operational cleanup crew after humans left their polluted planet for space, Wall-E develops a personality after being alone for centuries (man, Pixar loves sentient creatures left alone for years).
At the end of this film, Wall-E gets electrocuted and crushed to the point of death. That’s right, as much as Wall-E was “alive,” he dies. His romantic partner robot is so dismayed that she rushes to Earth for replacement parts, putting him back together so fast that her hands blur. Fixed but restored to factory default, he remembers nothing, not her, not even his personality. This is devastating to both the characters and the audience, especially since we’re still trying to grieve for an entire planet. Yes, Wall-E finishes booting and is back to normal, but for that brief moment, we struggled to think how to explain to our kids how Wall-E could be rolling around but still “dead.”
One of the most “manly” of the Pixar films, this one is all about nostalgia and small-town Americana. Once again, inanimate objects are imbued with Pixar sentience, and once again their undefined eternal longevity means they’ve seen things grow old and become forgotten. This time, it’s the town of Radiator Springs, in a world that somehow is run entirely by vehicles. I still don’t understand where their gasoline comes from, because debatably the dinosaurs would have been vehicles as well.
Either way, in a film all about nostalgia it’s hard to swallow the idea of a small town being forgotten. The entire concept is what’s sad, no particular scene stands out. Radiator Springs is a town that no one comes to, and the inhabitants just sit around, swapping their wares between each other for eternity. The paint guy keeps painting himself with no one to show it to. The tire salesman has no one to sell tires to. It’s hell. This movie is about hell.
5. Toy Story 3
I know, I already mentioned how this one had Holocaust issues. That being said, if you want a movie that makes you tear up, Holocaust issues will do the trick. First, the characters that we’ve grown to love over two movies and a dump-truck of merchandise face the reality that their owner is too old for toys. Then, they go to a hell-scape daycare that is a cross between Mad Max and Auschwitz. Every day they get beaten up by monsters with the ever present threat of being broken, and when they try to free themselves the movie decides it’s time to lock them up.
There was a funny video where a kid edited the ending so the film appears to end when the toys are falling into a trash burner, holding hands and embracing death. Then the credits rolled and his mom (the mark of this devilishly brilliant con) freaked out. Even without that tweak, this film is sadness wrapped in misery with death sprinkles. Someone needs to pass out some antidepressants at Pixar.
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