Pixar vs. My Emotions

Pixar have always been good at getting an emotional response out of me from their movies. Their latest two prove, at least with me, that the trend is set to continue.

New year’s day comes with a recently-minted tradition in our household, where the boys (of cinema-going age) and I go to our local cinema in Leamington and watch a film together. This year, we went to go and see Pixar’s latest, The Good Dinosaur.

Sure, the somewhat-overused dead parent trope is a little contrived, and I saw it coming a mile away, but the relationship that forms between Arlo, the titular dinosaur, and Spot, the human child he encounters throughout the course of the film, was heartwarming. The film certainly won’t win awards for originality or story – though it may well for its utterly stunning visual effects – but Arlo and Spot’s journey, and the way the two communicate without much in the way of dialogue, made for a fun afternoon.

The visuals, score and emotional tugs appeared to be perfectly timed and at various points after the duo begin their journey, I found myself wiping tears from my cheeks. By the time the credits were rolling, my face was wet with tears – as were the faces belonging to other parents and grown-ups in the auditorium, who were caught off-guard as much as I was by the sudden switching on of the lights – and I found myself shepherding the boys and I from the cinema trying (and possibly failing) to disguise the fact that I’d been weeping for much of the last 45 minutes.

Two days later, Pixar would mount a second offensive on my tear ducts. Ater a particularly early start on a Sunday morning, the boys and I sat down to watch Inside Out, which had been sat, unwatched, on the Apple TV for a while. The boys and I enjoyed the movie – more so than The Good Dinosaur, in my case – but, once again, towards the end of the film, I found myself with tears rolling down my cheeks. At least, this time, I was relatively safe in the confines of my living room.

Evoking emotion

It’s not unusual for me to shed a few tears while watching an emotional film – I make no secret of that fact – but, since becoming a father, I seem to be experiencing the emotional overloads even more, especially at Pixar movies.

Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, WALL-E and Toy Story 3 all had a similar effect on me (as did Big Hero 6, but we’re talking about Pixar movies here), but the winner, by a clear margin, is Up.

If there’s a record for quickest route to tears, it’s surely set by Up. We’d sat down to watch the film while on holiday in 2010, and we’d been given fair warning of the emotional onslaught we were about to encounter.

The beautiful sequence starts with Carl and Ellie getting married and, minutes later, you’ll be sat watching the introduction fade to black, snuffling and watching through welled-up eyes.

You might not be as much of an emotional mess as I am around films, but if you’re not even a little bit sad after 11 minutes of Up then, quite frankly, you’re dead inside.

For the most part, Pixar have been very good at storytelling. There have been a few missteps along the way, sure, but they’re masters of their craft.

That and making me cry, it would seem.