The Most Underrated Moments in Pixar History
Whenever there’s a conversation about the work of Pixar, it tends to shift into emotional reactions their films produce. And when you’ve been having these conversations for as long as I have, you tend to notice that the same specific moments are always brought up. These would likely include the emotional rollercoaster that begins Up, the intense start to Finding Nemo, or the edge-of-your-seat climax of Toy Story 3. But with such a rich catalog of feature films (and shorts), there are many funny, lovely, and truly bizarre moments within the company’s history that seem to never get the spotlight they deserve.
So with the release of Cars 3 this week, it seems only right that a new list of moments needed to be created. Some of these are funny and others might make you cry, but as with anything related to the house that made Buzz and Woody, there’s a lot of mushy feelings involved. So sit back, grab onto your Luxo Jr. ball, and let’s take a look into some of the more underrated Pixar moments.
Partly Cloudy – When The Stork Puts on the Football Uniform
All of Pixar’s shorts have some sort of emotional tug. Usually, it revolves around a romance or family, but on a slightly more rare occasion, friendship is involved. That’s where Partly Cloudy comes in. Telling the story of the clouds that make the babies for storks to deliver is a very cute concept, but sprinkling in the notion that there’s a cloud in charge of making all the intense creatures of the world (alligators, sharks, etc.) is one heck of a humorous twist.
The main thrust of this short is the dynamic between the cloud and his stork partner, who, no matter what creature is handed to him, he’ll deliver with a smile (and some bruises) on his face. After a few incidents, it seems that the stork might have had enough of his cloud friend and decides to give his services to another brighter cloud. It all seems doom and gloom for this duo, until the stork returns with a protective football uniform. This moment not only showcases how Pixar are masters at producing an emotional rollercoaster in just a few seconds, but how they make you instantly fall in love with their characters in just a simple image. Because don’t we all want a friend that’d wear a football suit to make us feel okay with our quirks?
Toy Story – Buzz Sees His Own Commercial
Toy Story has quite a few masterpiece-level moments throughout its 81 minute runtime. From “the claw” to “there’s a snake in my boot” to “infinity and beyond,” there are lines that have simply entered the pop culture lexicon. Yet, there is one moment that I believe doesn’t get talked about nearly enough and it involves Buzz coming across a commercial. For himself.
Up until this point, Mr. Lightyear is convinced that he isn’t a toy and that he is, in fact, a real space ranger. So when a TV ad comes on the TV, proving that he is indeed a toy, Buzz changes from a headstrong stubborn character to one that questions his own existence. He even begins to lose it (during that great tea party scene) and only snaps back when he has a rocket tapped to his back.
It’s the kind of the scene that makes you wonder about your own identity. This was Charlton Heston discovering the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes, mixed with the twist in the Sixth Sense – a world-shattering revelation. For young me, seeing Buzz realize the truth was “clutch my pearls”- level savage.
Wall-E – Foreign Contaminants
When people talk about Wall-E, they either jump on the romance or the environmental message. But there’s one unsung hero within this tale of Hello Dolly songs and robot love, and that’s M-O. Yeah, he might not be as cute as the titular character or EVE, but there’s something to adore about this character that is dedicated to his job, and refuses to back down from it.
Many moments in Wall-E prove how dialogue isn’t really necessary for audiences to understand a character, and M-O’s introduction is one of the best examples of that. Right from the get-go, we can tell that M-O is a dude on a mission, and won’t let even his silly co-workers (or fellow robots) stand in his way. This little contraption seems very set on his task, but when he finally sees Wall-E and how incredibly contaminated he is, the reaction is priceless, and wonderfully sets up the hijinks (and frustrations) this character has to endure throughout the rest of the movie.
Monsters Inc. – “Oh So Help Me” Musical
Many Pixar fans will say that Mike’s famous impromptu number “Put That Thing Back Where It Came From, Or So Help Me” is among the greatest (and most obvious) highlights in Monsters Inc. But I would argue that the blooper version is more hilarious and the musical birthed from it is even better. As someone who grew up with musicals at the forefront, so much of this entire gag brings on a flash flood of community theater memories. But if you were never exposed to your high school drama department or haven’t gone to a Broadway show, just the notion of Mike actually starring in a production inspired by the events of the movie is still hilarious.
But the thing that really makes this entire joke work is Billy Crystal’s vocal performance. When you get an actor that loves musical theater as much as him, lightning strikes, and magic sequences like this can happen. Sure, another talented individual would have done fine in the recording booth, but there’s just something special when you have a person like Crystal bringing your character to life, and this scene (much like the rest of Monsters Inc.) is a testament to that idea.
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