Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Every Pixar Movie Ranked from Worst to Best
Every Pixar Movie Ranked from Worst to Best

16

Cars 3 (2017)

Cars 3 is content to explore the end of Lightning McQueen’s (Owen Wilson) career with a series of pre-packaged sports-film clichés—an old dog trying to learn new tricks, struggling with a sport that seems to have passed him by, and facing, for the first time in his career, a sense of vulnerability. The template turns out to be a natural fit for the Cars universe, organically integrating racing into the fabric of the film and rendering it with a visceral sense of speed, excitement, and struggle. Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) is a welcome addition, a plucky foil to McQueen who’s also a three-dimensional presence in her own right, much more richly developed than one-joke characters like Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and Luigi (Tony Shalhoub). Cruz’s presence also allows the filmmakers to bring some social conscience to this sometimes backward-looking franchise, exploring the discouraging pressures placed on young female athletes while also nodding toward the historical exclusion of women and racial minorities from racing. Watson

Every Pixar Movie Ranked from Worst to Best

15

A Bug’s Life (1998)

The gentle counterpart to Dreamworks Animation’s Antz, A Bug’s Life deals in a wealth of familiar themes and narratives, peddling the importance of community inherent to ant populations, positioning unlikely hero Flik as a fish out of water when he seeks help for the colony, and reinforcing the tyke-targeted notion that “being small isn’t so bad” (a maxim preached to young ant Dot, voiced by a very young Hayden Panettiere). But when Flik, a “country bug,” goes searching for warriors to combat the ants’ oppressive grasshopper nemeses, and instead returns with a ragtag troupe of circus insects (think the gang from James and the Giant Peach performing amid the carnival debris of Charlotte’s Web), a more intriguing theme emerges. As the actors and acrobats help the ants to craft a massive bird (a salvation-bringing idol that will hopefully scare off the enemy), they also introduce art as an alternative to fear and violence, and the film presents entertainment as something not just diverting, but heroic. Osenlund

Every Pixar Movie Ranked from Worst to Best

14

Brave (2012)

For those who waited patiently for the first Pixar film to be led by a female protagonist, it’s understandable that Brave might have been a disappointment, arriving after the studio hit its artistic peak, and suffering from a handful of authorship woes. But the feminist fable remains the most underrated of this revered brand’s lot, not least because of Princess Merida’s eye-popping head full of aptly unruly hair. The movie may enchant with its focus on Scottish lore (an element arguably explored better in How to Train Your Dragon), and it may deserve a hand for its girl-power, who-needs-a-husband trajectory, but the distincitve bit that puts the lump in your throat is the mother-daughter story. From Aladdin to The Little Mermaid, Cinderella to Tangled, princess tales almost always deal with the heroine’s link to a father or an evil mother surrogate, never an actual mom who imposes relatable, resonant rules. This far more interesting dichotomy gives Brave an especially fresh and expressly female perspective. And while Merida’s mother’s transformation into a bear may seem gonzo and random, it’s actually perfectly appropriate: Together, mother and daughter must fight to undo a beast of a burden, one that’s historically, symbolically masculine in nature. Osenlund

Every Pixar Movie Ranked from Worst to Best

13

Incredibles 2 (2018)

Because superhero movies are still male-dominated, it’s refreshing to see a film such as Incredibles 2 place a female hero at the center of all its skirmishes. Besides, Elastigirl’s (Holly Hunter) powers are simply more fun to watch in action than everyone else’s; indeed, the animators have a field day with the way she molds herself into various shapes throughout the film. Unfortunately, pulling Helen away from her family makes Incredibles 2’s plotting feel slightly mechanical. As it ping-pongs between displays of Elastigirl’s derring-do and the rest of her family’s domestic worries, the film becomes almost sitcom-like in the way its broken up into clear A and B storylines. It also doesn’t help that the story’s villain is so half-baked, as from the moment the Screenslaver (Bill Wise) shows up, it’s painfully obvious who’s pulling his strings. Watson

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