Feature: Why Pixar Hits You Right in the Feels


In 1995 I was 10 years old and I asked my parents to take me to see Toy Story twice. That was the first time I saw a film twice in the theater and still holds up as one of the few films I’ve seen multiple times in the theater. Fast forward to 2010. I was a 25 year old man and I opted to go see the third installment of Toy Story in the theater by myself. I went to a matinee on a weekday and sat in a row all by myself…wait, let me rephrase this. I was a 25 year old man that went to go see an animated film on a weekday morning and cried like a baby.

Advanced screenings of Pixar’s newest film, Inside Out, have brought it attention on social media, specifically in the, pardon the pun, emotions. It seems like Pixar’s animated storytelling has, yet again, made people weep in the theater. So why is that? Why do we get so emotional of pixels and colors put up onto a screen? The answer is simple, projection.

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When I went to see Toy Story 3 when I was 25, I was out of college and I was living on my own in my first apartment. Seeing Andy giving away his toys and seeing, what I thought was “the end” to some sort of saga, brought tears to my eyes. I projected myself into the character of Andy. When that first Toy Story film came out, I was 10 and I was always changing my preferences. One year I loved basketball and the NBA. The next I was really into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Despite my changing preferences I still kept my basketball collectors cards and my Ninja Turtles action figures. They were a part of who I had been and simultaneously who I had become. So when I saw Andy giving away his toys and explaining how cool they were, it hit me. There was a point where I wasn’t going to play with my Ninja Turtles anymore, but I didn’t know them as plastic figures. I knew them as the pizza loving, Shredder fighting turtles and that’s how I would always remember them. It hit me hard and it made me aware that I was growing up and that I wasn’t the same old 10 year old with NBA Jam bedsheets any longer.

Finding Nemo came out in 2003. I was 18 and a rebel without a cause. I saw Finding Nemo and didn’t get why it had become one of Pixar’s best box office films. I still wasn’t a fan of the film until I rewatched the film about a year ago. I was engaged and had someone that I cared all about. I had friends who had several children by this point. That’s when it clicked for me. This wasn’t some silly adventure about fish. This was about parents doing whatever it takes for their children. It’s what my parents would have done for me. Some people always talk about that “Mom Strength” where they could lift a car to save their child. Finding Nemo finds that strength. Marlin is any parent out there and no matter there fear, they would overcome it because they love their children. It’s clear that everyone parents in a different way, but at the end of the day every parent deserves a round of applause for raising us and this film perfectly exemplifies that.

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We continue to project these ideals of humanity onto Pixar films because they want us to. Pixar films aren’t about toys or monsters or fish. They’re about us. They are about real emotions. So what can you expect to see in Pixar’s newest film about emotions? You can probably find me tearing up in row 8 of the theater. I’m now a 29 year old man and despite that fact that I’ll be looking at pixels and colors and hearing famous comedian’s voices, I’ll probably project my own teen angst that I once had and my mixed emotions of teenage life. I’ll probably relate to this film more than I will anything all year. Pixar gets it. They always have. They understand that when you watch a movie you appreciate it from your own life stories so they strive to mix their stories with your own. It is simple projection but sometimes the simplest of tricks can also be the purest. Pixar is pure heart, pure character, and pure human storytelling.

Josh Taylor
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Posted on June 17, 2015, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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