Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
June 26, 2012
People who have accused us of sucking up to Pixar...here's your proof that we don't.
Kim Hollis: Based on what you've seen and heard about Brave, what is your perception of the film?
David Mumpower: In spite of the box office positives I mentioned in the prior answer, my personal opinion is that Pixar is in a bit of a slump. In the wake of their Toy Story 3 triumph, the follow-up projects have been lacking...and I say that as one of those people who felt Toy Story 3 was simply good, not great. Cars 2 was a merchandising Trojan horse, which we knew the instant the sequel was announced. Given my absurdly low expectations for the project, I enjoyed the movie well enough yet I rarely watch parts of it on cable. Like many sequels, it is a forgettable exercise in corporate finance disguised as "art".
Brave was a movie that our entire staff has been anticipating for years now. When I sat in the theater Friday evening and realized that it was a mash-up of Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon and another Disney animated movie whose name I cannot reveal for fear of spoilers, I was wildly disappointed. Brave is amiable enough but this feels like a DreamWorks movie rather than a Pixar one. Such is the danger of being held to a higher standard. If I were drawing a direct comparison to a recent animated blockbuster, the best title would be Megamind, a great concept that for the most part lacked in execution.
I am not the target audience for Brave; this is the difference in Pixar's most recent two titles as opposed to previous ones, though. Up doesn't divide into a movie for boys or for girls nor does Toy Story, WALL-E, Monsters Inc. or Ratatouille. The commonality between all of those titles is universal appeal. Brave and Cars 2 are divisive in this regard and while I hope Monsters University proves to be as charming as the original, I fear that it will suffer the same fate as Cars 2. Is it another way to sell more Sully and Mike toys? Probably. In the time since Pixar and Disney merged, there has been a climate shift. Disney wants the most commercially viable products possible. I worry that what has established Pixar in the marketplace is in danger of fading away. Brave and Cars 2 are titles of genial mediocrity whereas Up and Rataouille are masterpieces of storytelling. Does two in a row indicate the start of a trend or a brief run of bad luck? We won't know for certain for 360 days, but I have concerns.
Max Braden: I haven't seen the movie yet, but I was surprised to hear that it's a mother-daughter movie. Based on what I saw in the trailer, I was expecting a movie like The Little Mermaid, about the daughter who's friendly with her dad (the main driver in her life) but feels she doesn't connect with him or fit in with the the local culture. That actually made me think that the message Pixar was sending out (intentionally or not) was "your own family will always hold you back, dump them as soon as possible." While I'm interested in hearing that Brave shifts tones mid-story, it concerns me that they did this with WALL-E, and a little with Toy Story 3. I don't want to argue for playing it safe but I do want the strong central throughline in movies like the first Toy Story. Getting experimental risks alienating the audience, reducing funds for future projects, and muddling the studio's sense of purpose in storytelling.