Following what many perceive to be their pinnacle in Toy Story 3, Pixar would appear to have lost their mojo and slipped from the pedestal that critics and viewers alike had placed them upon. With a track record as impeccable as the company’s was when starting out, backlash was to be expected the second they stumbled, and with a run as long as they enjoyed it’s no wonder there’s been such an outcry against them.
Even during that unprecedented span of hits, which included two Best Picture nominations at the Academy Awards (Up and Toy Story 3), I wager that there was an underlying resentment waiting to rear its head at the first sign of trouble, not unlike how many sports fans like to see certain perennial contenders, such as the New England Patriots, fail.
In came Cars 2, the first (and so far only) Pixar movie to wind up “rotten” over on Rotten Tomatoes, and a sequel that the press would have you believe no one, Pixar included, really wanted. Everyone was in agreement that it was a money-making ploy, nothing else. Pixar cast aside their usual standards, as high as (if not higher than) the ones we all held them to, for the sake of making a quick buck. Never mind that one could apply the same narrative to the creation of Toy Story 3, the third installment of a franchise more or less equally as profitable as Cars. The difference is that one was nominated for Best Picture, as I mentioned earlier, and the other missed out on even taking home Best Animated Feature. One was a follow-up to Pixar’s beloved flagship series, whereas the other was sequel to the red-headed step child of their output up until that point.
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Put another way, Cars 2 was doomed from the jump. All it had any chance of being commended for was improving upon the original, a pity prize really; however, it failed to manage even that, at least in the eyes of the Mater-hating majority which I so happen not to be a part of, despite sharing their distaste for Larry the Cable Guy. I feel, though, as if Cars 2 would’ve been blasted even had it been on par with Toy Story 3. People were simply ready to let the hate flow; the levy had held, barely, back when Cars was released, but this time it burst, never really standing a chance against such an outpouring.
Since then, it’s been a steady flow of negativity and what amount to conspiracy theories. One critic even went so far as to put forward that Disney and Pixar had swapped films, Disney getting Wreck-It Ralph and Pixar receiving Brave. One assumes, or at least hopes, he wasn’t being entirely serious, yet it wouldn’t surprise me if I were to find out that he, or anyone else, honestly believed that. It’s gotten so out of hand that I felt it imperative that I write this article in the hopes of stemming the tide a little by explaining why it’s not nearly as bad for Pixar as they all say. Why Pixar, despite it all, is still king of animation.
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