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The Ultimate Pixar Animated Film Guide: 2010-2014

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The Ultimate Pixar Animated Film Guide
1995-1999 | 2000-2004 | 2005-2009 | 2010-2014

Since the release of Toy Story in 1995, film studio Pixar made ten highly successful animated films funded by Disney and had earned a reputation for high quality productions. As part of their contract, Disney owned the character rights to the films they had financed and had planned to make their own sequels to Pixar films. These were being made by an animation division called Circle 7 Animation, nicknamed 'Pixaren't'. In 2006 Pixar merged with Disney and work on these sequels was halted1, yet this had shown Pixar that there was high demand for sequels to their earlier films.

Pixar were determined that if someone was going make sequels to their films, it would be them. For the first half of the 2010s, they predominantly made sequels to their earlier films. Though they continued to operate as a filmmaker-led studio in which a group of experienced filmmakers nicknamed the 'Brain Trust' made the important decisions, following Toy Story 3 critics felt that the quality of their films began to slip. This was at a time when they faced increased competition from not only established studios such as Disney and DreamWorks Animation, but newer challengers Blue Sky and Illumination Entertainment.

The Films

Characters and actors in Bold appear in other Pixar films.

11. Toy Story 3 (2010)

DirectorLee Unkrich
PlotAndy, owner of numerous toys, has grown up and is about to go to college. Although he intends most of his toys to be stored in the attic, they are accidentally put out for the dust cart and they feel abandoned. Hurt, the toys choose to go to a nursery, Sunnyside Daycare Center, where they are imprisoned by a bear called Lotso, destined to be manhandled by destructive toddlers, and Buzz has his very personality erased. Will the toys be able to escape and find a new owner, or are they doomed to be incinerated like garbage?
Length103 minutes
SettingAmerica, 21st Century
Toys
  • Woody, a sheriff cowboy toy (Tom Hanks)
  • Buzz Lightyear, a plastic space ranger (Tim Allen)
  • Jessie, a yodelling cowgirl toy (Joan Cusack)
  • Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear aka Lotso, a teddy (Ned Beatty)
  • Bullseye, Woody's horse
  • Mr Potato Head (Don Rickles)
  • Slinky Dog (Blake Clark)
  • Rex, a cowardly dinosaur (Wallace Shawn)
  • Hamm, a piggy bank (John Ratzenberger)
  • Mrs Potato Head (Estelle Harris)
  • Sarge, a toy soldier (R Lee Ermey)
  • Barbie2 (Jodi Benson)
  • Ken (Michael Keaton)
  • Little Green Men, three-eyed alien toys (Jeff Pidgeon)
  • Mr Pricklepants, a theatrical hedgehog (Timothy Dalton)
  • Buttercup, a unicorn (Jeff Garlin)
  • Trixie, a triceratops (Kristen Schaal)
  • Dolly, a ragdoll (Bonnie Hunt)
  • Stretch, an octopus (Whoopi Goldberg)
Humans
  • Andy Davis (John Morris)
  • Bonnie Anderson (Emily Hahn)
  • Mrs Davis (Laurie Metcalf)
MusicBy Randy Newman
  • 'We Belong Together'
  • 'You've Got a Friend in Me'
Related Films
  • 1. Toy Story (1995)
  • 3. Toy Story 2 (1999)
Spin OffsShort films unless stated:
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins (2000)
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (2000-2001) - cartoon series.
  • Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation (2011)
  • Toy Story Toons: Small Fry (2011)
  • Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex (2012)
  • Toy Story of Terror! (2013)
  • Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)
Oscars
  • 2011 Best Animated Film
  • 2011 Best Original Song3
Accompanying ShortDay & Night (2010)
Cameos
  • The Pizza Planet van is the vehicle Lotso rides in during the flashback sequence.
  • Bonnie has a cuddly Totoro, from Miyazaki's My Neighbour Totoro (1988)4.
  • Finn McMissile from Cars 2 appears on a poster in Andy's room.
  • One of the dustmen is Sid Phillips, the evil neighbour from Toy Story.

A sequel that manages to be every bit as good as the films that preceded it. This became not only the third animated film to be nominated for Best Picture Oscar, but also the first ever sequel to be nominated for Best Picture without any of its previous films being nominated. Toy Story 3 became the first animated film to make over $1 billion and on release was not only the most successful animated film of all time but also the fifth most successful film ever.

Toy Story 3's plot was inspired by the fact that many of the animators who had recently become parents when they made the first Toy Story had since seen their children grow up, and this experience was explored from the toys' perspective, echoing the moving sequence with Jessie in Toy Story 2.

Blake Clark became the new voice of Slinky Dog, as Jim Varney had died in 2000.

12. Cars 2 (2011)

DirectorsJohn Lasseter & Brad Lewis
PlotWhen Lightning McQueen signs up to race in the World Grand Prix, which involves racing in Japan, Italy and Britain, his relationship with his best friend Mater is strained. Mater, however, is accidentally involved in a despicable scheme for world domination which involves vast oil reserves, a sinister camera and unreliable 'lemon' cars.
Length106 minutes
SettingA world populated with cars, Radiator Springs, Tokyo, Porto Corsa Italy5 and London.
Characters
  • Mater, a 1950s rusty tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy)
  • Lightning McQueen, a racing car (Owen Wilson)
  • Finn McMissile, a British spy car inspired by James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 (Michael Caine)
  • Holley Shiftwell, British spy based on Jaguar XJR-15
  • Francesco Bernoulli, an Italian racing car and Lightning McQueen's rival (John Turturro)
  • Sir Miles Axlerod, a British electric car and entrepreneur (Eddie Izzard)
  • Professor Zündapp, a bubble car and mad scientist (Thomas Kretschmann)
  • Sally Carrera, a Porsche 911 (Bonnie Hunt)
  • Luigi, a Fiat 500 (Tony Shalhoub)
  • Guido, a forklift truck (Guido Quaroni)
  • Ramone, a Chevrolet Lowrider (Cheech Marin)
  • Sheriff, a 1949 Mercury Police Car (Michael Wallis)
  • Fillmore, a 1960 Volkswagen camper van (Lloyd Sherr)
  • Sarge, a 1942 Willys Jeep (Paul Dooley)
  • Flo, a 1950s show car (Jenifer Lewis)
  • Mack, a lorry (John Ratzenberger)
MusicScore by Michael Giacchino
  • 'You Might Think' written by Ric Ocasek, performed by Weezer
  • 'Polyrhythm' written by Yasutaka Nakata
  • 'Mon Coeur Fait Vroum (My Heart Goes Vroom)' by Michael Giacchino and Scott Langteau
  • 'Nobody's Fool' by Brad Paisley
  • 'Collision of Worlds' written by Brad Paisley and Robbie Williams
Related Films
  • 7. Cars (2006)
Spin-Offs
  • Planes (2013) – similar film by DisneyToon Studios
  • Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014) – similar film by DisneyToon Studios
  • Mater and the Ghostlight (2006) – short film
  • Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales (2008-2012) – short films6
  • Cars Toons: Tales from Radiator Springs (2013-2014) – short films7
Accompanying ShortToy Story Toon: Hawaiian Vacation (2011)
Cameos
  • Characters from Brave appear in car form on posters in the pub.
  • The Pizza Planet van appears as a guest on Tyre Talk TV show.
  • There are posters advertising the film The Incredimobiles, inspired by The Incredibles.
  • Gusteau's restaurant from Ratatouille appears in the background, now named 'Gastows'.
  • There is a poster advertising Lassetyres, named after John Lasseter.
  • The sequence in which Mater is trapped inside Big Bentley8 is similar to the climax of Basil the Great Mouse Detective.

Cars 2 was perhaps a strange film for Pixar to make as Cars had been one of their least successful films. John Lasseter chose to concentrate on Mater, who he felt was one of Pixar's most interesting characters. By the time that Cars 2 was in production, three of the cast of the original film had died; Paul Newman (Doc Hudson Hornet), George Carlin (Fillmore) and Joe Ranft (Red).

The story, in which Mater becomes embroiled in international espionage, though fairly enjoyable, is weak. The promise of a great race circumnavigating the world is quickly reduced to trips to Japan, Italy and London where occasionally the film resorts to wheeling out hackneyed stereotypes in the hope of laughs. This was the first Pixar film not to be nominated for an Oscar. Despite this, Cars 2 was still the second most successful animated film of the year after DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda 2.

13. Brave (2012)

DirectorsMark Andrews, Brenda Chapman & Steve Purcell
PlotYoung Scottish Princess Merida is encouraged by her father to learn how to use a bow and arrow, much to the dismay of her mother. When Merida discovers that she is to be betrothed to whichever one of her father's allies' sons wins an archery contest, she enters it herself and wins, announcing she will not wed. Following an argument with her mother a witch gives her a cake to give to her mother. Though Merida expects it to merely change her mother's mind, instead her mother is transformed into a bear.
Length93 minutes
SettingMediæval Scotland
Characters
  • Merida, a princess (Kelly MacDonald)
  • Queen Elinor, her mother (Emma Thompson)
  • King Fergus, her father (Billy Connolly)
  • The Witch (Julie Walters)
  • Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane)
  • Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd)
  • Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson)
  • Mor'du, a bear
Music
  • 'Noble Maiden Fair' by Patrick Doyle
  • 'Touch the Sky' by Alex Mandel and Mark Andrews
  • 'Into the Open Air' by Alex Mandel
  • 'Song of Mor'du' by Patrick Doyle
  • 'Learn Me Right' by Mumford & Sons
Oscars2012 Best Animated Film
Accompanying ShortLa Luna (2011)
Cameos
  • Lord Macintosh is named in honour of Steve Jobs, former owner of Pixar and co-founder of tech company Apple, which developed the Macintosh computers.
  • The Pizza Planet van appears in the Witch's cabin.
  • The witch has a wooden figure of Sulley from Monsters Inc.
  • This is the second animated film made by a Disney studio about someone becoming a bear, following Brother Bear (2003).
  • An archery contest also appears in Robin Hood (1973).

The screenplay was written by Brenda Chapman. Pixar announced with great pride that Brave would be their first film to be solely directed by a woman, only for Brenda to be replaced by Mark Andrews following creative disagreements. Despite this, Brenda has publicly stated that she is proud of the finished film which she feels has remained broadly true to her vision which was inspired by her relationship with her daughter.

When Brave was announced, some felt that Pixar were straying into Disney's traditional territory by making a film about a mediæval princess, yet Pixar have always been determined to show their versatility. Pixar's films are predominantly about relationships, even when set in exotic locations with unusual characters. This was the third most successful animated film of the year, after Blue Sky's Ice Age: Continental Drift and DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, but ahead of Disney's Wreck-It Ralph.

Disney's marketing department was severely criticised when they released Brave merchandise, especially Merida toys. They had redesigned Princess Merida to appear similar to previous Disney Princesses, creating a Merida in exactly the image that the Merida in the film rebels against. Following an overwhelmingly large petition, Disney soon apologised.

14. Monsters University (2013)

DirectorDan Scanlon
PlotSet years before the events of Monsters Inc., monsters Mike and Sulley meet at university where, despite disliking each other, they both hope to become Scarers, monsters who scare humans in order to convert their screams into energy. After being kicked off the course they make a bet with the dean that they can win the prestigious 'Scare Games' as part of the University's weakest fraternity team, Oozma Kappa. To do this they need to learn how to work together.
Length104 minutes
SettingMonsters University campus, located in a world populated by monsters.
Characters
  • James P 'Sulley' Sullivan, a blue, furry monster with purple spots (John Goodman)
  • Michael 'Mike' Wazowski, a small, round green one-eyed monster (Billy Crystal)
  • Randall Boggs, an eight-legged chameleonic monster (Steve Buscemi)
  • Dean Hardscrabble, chair of the Scarer Programme (Helen Mirren)
  • Scott 'Squishy' Squibbles, a six-eyed scarer student (Peter Sohn)
  • Don Carlton, bat-moustached mature student with suckers (Joel Murray)
  • Terri & Terry Perry, two-headed student (Sean Hayes & Dave Foley)
  • Art, a furry purple student all arms and legs (Charlie Day)
  • Johnny J Worthington III, a horned student who is their main rival (Nathan Fillion)
SoundtrackBy Randy Newman
Related Films
  • 4. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Accompanying ShortThe Blue Umbrella (2013)
Cameos
  • The Pizza Planet van is seen outside the RΩR fraternity house.

This, the first time Pixar had made a prequel, was the third most successful animated film of the year, after Disney's Frozen and Illumination Entertainment's Despicable Me 2. Not as strong a film as the original, it became the second Pixar film not to be nominated for an Oscar.

The Ultimate Pixar Animated Film Guide
1995-1999 | 2000-2004 | 2005-2009 | 2010-2014
1Although Circle 7 Animation closed, almost all the animators were employed in other Disney animation studios.2A Tour Guide Barbie had appeared in Al's Toy Barn in Toy Story 2, but this is almost certainly a different doll.3'We Belong Together'.4Disney distributes Studio Ghibli films in America, including those directed by Hayao Miyazaki.5A fictional town that combines elements of Nice in France, Portofino in Italy and Monaco.6'Rescue Squad Mater', 'Mater the Greater', 'El Materdor', 'Tokyo Mater', 'Unidentified Flying Mater', 'Monster Truck Mater', 'Heavy Metal Mater', 'Moon Mater', 'Mater Private Eye', 'Air Mater', 'Time Travel Mater'.7'Hiccups', 'Bugged', 'Spinning', 'The Radiator Springs 500½'.8The Cars-equivalent of the famous clock tower at the Houses of Parliament commonly called 'Big Ben' after the bell inside it but also known as St Stephen's Tower and Elizabeth Tower.

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