There are exactly three things today's children enjoy that I wish had been around during my childhood: the Harry Potter books, those wheels that they can insert inside their sneakers to terrorize the mall in, and Pixar movies. I grew up during Disney's The Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast/Aladdin phase where every one of their animated classics had to feature a pretty princess singing a love song in a ball gown.
Sure, those movies will probably be required viewing for my children someday, but in many ways, the new Pixar classics like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille are way cooler. Their animation is more dazzling, their themes and storytelling are more sophisticated, and it's a lot more empowering to watch a rat beat the odds at becoming a master chef than watching another princess get rescued. An audience at Comic-Con was treated to a Pixar presentation including these still images from their masterpiece-in-progress, Up. As we keep hearing over and over, Pixar has yet to make a bad movie.
Here are three reasons why I'm already predicting Up won't break that streak:
1. The cranky-looking old guy
Up tells the story of Carl, an elderly widower who attaches balloons to his house and floats away to have the grand adventure he never got to share with his wife, and to escape being sent to a nursing home. I'm sure Carl will have plenty of important life lessons to share with Russell, his young stowaway, but I'm looking forward to the humor of watching this old grouch outsmart the nursing home goons. Who doesn't love an old guy with spunk?
2. The jungle
Carl and Russell's adventure will ultimately lead them to Venezuela, which the Pixar animators appear to have painted with gorgeous rich, lush colors. I can't wait to see their interpretation of the rest of the natural beauty our adventurers will encounter along the way.
3. The tennis balls on Carl's walker
Here's why Pixar movies connect to us in ways other animated films don't. They open up enormous new worlds (in the case of Up, they literally open up the whole world), then zoom in on the details that make those worlds real. My grandmother, and probably everyone else's, had those same tennis balls on her walker. As a Girl Scout, I carried a mess pack on camping trips with plates, bowls and mugs that looked exactly like the ones Boy Scout Russell has strapped to his backpack. She may have had twenty thingamabobs, but Ariel never owned anything that I recognized as being part of my world.