Pixar Movies Worst to First

A while back I wrote about finding some rankings of Disney movies to help me figure out which movies I should consider buying through the Disney Movie Club. I have a lot of Disney movies after enrolling three times and getting 9 movies each time, plus I have picked up a few more using Disney Movie Rewards and other sources. I am not ready to rank the 56 Disney animated features, but how about the 17 Pixar features? I recently watched The Good Dinosaur from 2015 so now the only Pixar movie I haven’t seen is Cars 2 which is widely disparaged and a sequel to one of my least favorite Pixar movies, so I will just put it at the bottom. Also, I have been keeping movie reviews since 1998, so I have reviews of every Pixar movie I have seen except the original Toy Story which came out in 1995. I have a hard time being consistent in my grading scale and I realize I probably give too many B’s and B+’s, so I have tried to give more A’s lately (still haven’t given a A+, maybe following the leads of nuns who wouldn’t give a 100 because only Jesus is perfect). So I wondered if my grades would hold up or not. Also you always worry you will just misread a movie, but in general I’m am sticking with my original grades. Even so, to do a ranking I need to figure out which A- is better than the other A-‘s. So I here is a run through, then at the end I will do a little analysis of my grades compared to the Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic scores. The letter grades below link to my review of the movie. I have all of the movies in blue on Blu-ray except Finding Nemo which I have on DVD only.

17. Cars 2 (2011) I never watched this one. People said it wasn’t that good and since the original was near the bottom of the list of my favorite Pixar movies, there was very little pulling me in. Sadly, Cars 3 is coming out soon, which seems like a waste of Pixar’s genius. I saw a funny article recently where it was theorized that once the cars realized they could think and drive themselves, they killed off all of the people. Google, are you paying attention?

16. Monsters University (2013) B- This movie is fairly entertaining as the two main characters meet in college and join fraternities, but the “gone to college” story has been done so many times. I saw this one on a plane, but I don’t think seeing it in better surroundings would help much.

15. The Good Dinosaur (2015) B- Really an odd concept for a movie, it is Pixar’s only real flop. It is still easy enough to watch, but why are dinosaurs farming? Yes, I know they are plant eaters, but still. If you get past that and some of the real danger that the plant eaters faced, plus a generous dollop of family tragedy, this movie has some good moments and an emotional payoff. And the scenery is nice (sad that it matters).

14. Cars (2006) B Despite some great animation, this is another story that has been done a lot of times before. It is fun seeing this world of cars, but I don’t really care about car racing so there wasn’t much in this movie for me.

13. A Bug’s Life (1998) B It seems like this movie is mostly forgotten now. I remember it being entertaining, but not stellar. The jokes are a little lacking and the characters are not as strong even though the animation is quite good.

12. Monsters Inc. (2001) B Good concept and a lot of fun monster characters, it is hard to believe this was only the 4th Pixar movie. The plot is a little bit of a letdown and despite a pretty funny concept, there is more action than humor to this movie.

11. Brave (2012) B There are some strong themes about independence, responsibility, and family in this movie, but the plot is kind of straightforward. Some say this feels more like a Disney movie since it features a princess and an evil witch and I can see where it is encroaching on that territory without adding much new. Still entertaining.

10. Finding Dory (2016) A- I may have been too generous with this movie by giving it an A-, so I had to break ranks and put it a little lower. This is another great adventure story with some great new characters and most of the old ones. Again, lots of action, but it starts to get a little unbelievable when a fish drives a truck. Still, a nice story about persistence and the importance of family and friends.

9. Toy Story 3 (2010) B+ Some feel like this is the best of the three, but I felt like it was overly heavy with a little too much sentimentality dealing with unwanted or abused toys, plus this one has evil toys. Still good to see these characters return with some great new characters and famous voices: Michael Keaton’s Ken is very good and Spanish language Buzz gives that character another dimension.

8. WALL-E (2008) B+ Another great Pixar concept, WALL-E has no dialogue for the first half hour or so before we even realize the premise of the movie. It was a bold choice to make a pure science fiction movie, but the movie isn’t quite as entertaining as some of Pixar’s best movies.

7. Toy Story 2 (1999) B+ With such a rich group of characters, the original Toy Story was begging for a sequel and this movie does a good job of honoring its predecessor while adding some heavy themes about obsolescence. With a couple of story lines, there is a lot going on and we get to meet some great new characters including a new Buzz Lightyear, Mrs. Potatohead, and tour guide Barbie. A little too much action for this to be one of the greats, but fun to watch.

6. The Incredibles (2004) A- As much for adults as kids, this movie takes a lot of cues from James Bond films. Manages to skewer superhero movies while staying firmly within the genre. And then it goes to the next level by adding themes of midlife crisis and the importance of family. It is funny at first and then becomes a surprisingly good spy thriller.

5. Finding Nemo (2003) A Probably ranked a little too high here, but I have not re-watched this one recently (unlike the rest of the top ten). This movie has a large cast of great characters and two busy story lines as a father searches for his son and the son tries to find his way home. A lot of fun to watch, with some great underwater effects, and maybe a little too much emotion for its own good.

4. Up (2009) A Another movie with an emotional wallop, this one right at the beginning, but sprinkled liberally throughout. The two main characters of Ed Asner as a cranky old man who once had dreams and a spirited boy scout with a deadbeat dad show that friendship doesn’t know about demographics. There is also a very good adventure story and funny talking dogs plus a bird named Kevin that needs help.

3. Ratatouille (2007) A Another movie that really is more for adults than kids. This movie should never have even been made: a movie about a rat making french cuisine? But it is a great tribute to food, creativity, and the idea that anyone can be great. Has some great physical humor too. I may have over-ranked this movie a little, but it really is quite good.

2. Inside Out (2015) A Another magical Pixar movie that has an amazing concept, great performances, funny stuff, and then packs an emotional wallop. Perfect as a cartoon, this is another movie more for adults than kids.

1. Toy Story (1995) A I don’t have a review of this one, but I have to think this tops the list. The main characters of Buzz and Woody are great, perfectly voiced by over-confident Tim Allen and an exasperated Tom Hanks. The side characters are excellent as well (maybe the best voice cast ever?) and the story and concept are fantastic.

Below is a table I made based on Rotten Tomatoes’ “percent fresh” score, which is the percentage of critics who gave a favorable review to a movie and the Metacritic score which takes an average based on the rating given by critics (ratings are converted to a numerical score of 1-100 and then averaged; at Metacritic anything above 60 is usually pretty good). I like Metacritic better because it takes into account a movie that gets 5 stars as opposed to 3 stars, even though Rotten Tomatoes would say both are favorable. Now one thing about these scores for Pixar movies is they are very, very high in general. I got the scores from Wikipedia and they have a similar table of Disney movies. Only 16 of the 45 Disney movies get a 90% or better from Rotten Tomatoes (1 in 3). Pixar has 12 movies at 90% or better, but that is out of only 17 films (2 out of 3). Six Pixar films score a 98 or better while Disney only has four. It is harder to compare Metacritic scores because Metacritic doesn’t cover the older Disney movies.

Anyway, I took their scores and then made ranks based on those. Using Excel, if two movies tie, it gives both the same rank and then skips the next rank number. So the first number for Rotten Tomatoes is the percent fresh score and the second is the rank, same for Metacritic. Metacritic definitely leans towards the artsier Pixar titles, with Ratatouille at the top, while Rotten Tomatoes’ list is topped by the three Toy Story features. I also show my ranks from above in the table. Then I calculated the difference between my rank and the rank given by Rotten Tomatoes. My biggest difference with the two polls was on Toy Story 3 where my rank of 10 was 7 lower than the the Rotten Tomatoes rank of 3 and a difference of 5 with Metacritic which had that one at number 5. I had another difference of 5 with Metacritic on WALL-E where I had it at number 8 and Metacritic had it an number 3. Then I was able to compare my overall rankings to the others by adding all of those differences together. The sum of my rank differences with Rotten Tomatoes was 37 while it was 28 with Metacritic, so I agree more with Metacritic than Rotten Tomatoes, which I pretty much knew already.

Title Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Ted
Toy Story 100 1 95 2 1
A Bug’s Life 92 12 77 11 13
Toy Story 2 100 1 88 8 7
Monsters, Inc. 96 8 78 10 12
Finding Nemo 99 3 90 6 5
The Incredibles 97 7 90 6 6
Cars 74 16 73 13 14
Ratatouille 96 8 96 1 3
WALL-E 96 8 94 3 8
Up 98 5 88 8 4
Toy Story 3 99 3 92 5 9
Cars 2 39 17 57 17 17
Brave 78 13 69 14 11
Monsters University 78 13 65 16 16
Inside Out 98 5 94 3 2
The Good Dinosaur 76 15 66 15 15
Finding Dory 94 11 77 11 10

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