When people think of a Pixar film, they're thinking of the top tier in animation. Recent releases have been slowly chipping away at the good name of Pixar. Back in 2011, Cars 2 became the first Pixar movie to receive unflattering reviews. It currently is considered "rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes. The Good Dinosaur was Pixar's most recent original attempt to get back to the land of prominence. Unfortunately, it was cursed by developmental problems, and although the movie is beautiful to look at, it just doesn't have that #Pixar substance that fans have come to expect.
I started noticing a shift in the quality of animation films when Pixar's Brave hit theaters. #Disney Animation Studios was releasing their own animated movie called Wreck-It Ralph. I continually thought: This doesn't seem right. Pixar was releasing a movie about a princess, a kingdom, folklore, and cute animals. Disney released a movie about video game characters, and teaching a lesson about how our unique characteristics make us who we are and we shouldn't want to change these things. It seemed like the companies got caught up in a Freaky Friday moment, and were just trying to do what the other company had been doing. I'm aware that both are under the Disney umbrella, but the two production houses always seemed to have their own flair. Pixar has gotten such high praise for making wonderful films, that it sometimes overshadows what Disney has been doing this whole time. So, I thought it would be fun to go over the past few years, compare what Pixar put out, and what Disney put out, and see who's the king of animation.
'Finding Dory' (2016) Vs. 'Moana' (2016)
The Tomato Meter: Finding Dory (94%) Moana (98%)
Audience Score: Finding Dory (86%) Moana ( 93%)
Finding Dory and #Moana could possibly be summed up as the same movie. They're both about characters traveling across the ocean to return something to their proper home, and there's also a mentally challenged bird for comedic relief in both. Moana basically wins this category on the count of The Rock being in it. I still haven't grasped the praise for Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I also know that entertainment isn't defined by my tastes. He's obviously a talented guy — I understand that Hamilton is a huge sensation — but the songs in Moana aren't anything spectacular. There's not really a catchy sing-along tune that's usually found in these movies, but the songs aren't bad either. I think I laughed more in #FindingDory, but Moana just seemed to hit all emotional aspects a little bit better.
Winner: Moana (Disney)
'The Good Dinosaur' (2015) Vs. 'Zootopia' (2016)
The Tomato Meter: The Good Dinosaur (77%) Zootopia (98%)
Audience Score: The Good Dinosaur (66%) Zootopia (93%)
Every time I catch the trailer for #Zootopia, I'm laughing. Unfortunately for me, #TheGoodDinosaur just wasn't firing on all cylinders. The beautifully realistic environment with the cartoon dinosaurs were very confusing. The story just seemed very basic, and just didn't have the dynamic storytelling that recent Disney and Pixar films have had.
Winner: Zootopia (Disney)
'Inside Out' (2015) Vs. 'Big Hero 6' (2014)
The Tomato Meter: Inside Out (98%) Big Hero 6 (89%)
Audience Score: Inside Out (89%) Big Hero 6 (91%)
These are both really great movies. Scott Adsit as Baymax is just a delight. Big Hero 6 is a fun movie. It's funny, it has great action, and when it hits its emotional tones, you feel them. #InsideOut is a movie about emotions, and it plays on them well. I've seen this movie a handful of times, and I've cried on three of those viewings. Inside Out also gives the viewer a little more to chew on, whether it intends to or not. There's interesting topics you can explore with this movie, like gender identification, the realities of sadness and anger in adulthood, or just a malfunction when trying to speak to a girl. Big Hero 6 plays it safe by following the same formula that most superhero movies give us, but it plays the role well. Unfortunately, Inside Out successfully brings some originality.
Winner: Inside Out (Pixar)
'Monsters University' (2013) Vs. 'Frozen' (2013)
The Tomato Meter: Monsters University (78%) Frozen (89%)
Audience Score: Monsters University (81%) Frozen (86%)
I'm far enough removed from #Frozen fever to give this matchup a fair shot. I saw Monsters University opening night in theaters. I left very disappointed. It's rare that a sequel ever matches (or is better) than the original, but #MonstersUniversity erased any backstory in its predecessor and created its own. Although the fallout from Frozen annoyed most of us on our social media platforms, it's a thoroughly enjoyable movie that promotes a great message to young girls. Frozen brings a lot more fun to the table than what the monsters can this time around.
Winner: Frozen (Disney)
Brave (2012) vs. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
The Tomato Meter: Brave (78%) Wreck-It Ralph (86%)
Audience Score: Brave (76%) Wreck-It Ralph (86%)
Brave brought the Disney princess to the Pixar brand. Unlike previous Disney princesses, Merida doesn't need a man to determine her destiny. Unfortunately, Disney would do this story better with Frozen the next year. This is really a paint-by-numbers movie for Pixar. It's a gorgeous looking movie, but the story is lacking. Disney went to the virtual world when Pixar was looking back. #WreckItRalph taught us that it was OK to be who we are, because that's what makes us uniquely us. Wreck-It Ralph was able to pull on the heart strings like #Brave couldn't. It's a funny, heartfelt movie that is definitely not bad, it's good just like the main character wants to be.
Winner: Wreck-It Ralph (Disney)
'Cars 2' (2011) Vs. 'Winnie The Pooh' (2011)
The Tomato Meter: Cars 2 (39%) Winnie the Pooh (90%)
Audience Score: Cars 2 (50%) Winnie the Pooh (80%)
I'm going to be completely honest. I'm not a #Cars fan. It's the only Pixar franchise that seems like a pure cash grab. It seems the movies only exist to sell toys. Even the franchise about toys doesn't feel that way. I would've been completely biased about this matchup. #WinnieThePooh represents pure nostalgia for me. It's the cartoon that filled my childhood. The 2011 movie played on that nostalgia. It's a short, 73 minute flick of pure childhood joy. Cars 2 is just a boring, bland, uninspired reason to sell more toys. I'm just glad the scores help back up my bias here.
Winner: Winnie the Pooh (Disney)
'Toy Story 3' (2010) Vs. 'Tangled' (2010)
The Tomato Meter: Toy Story 3 (99%) Tangled (89%)
Audience Score: Toy Story 3 (89%) Tangled (87%)
This is where the matchups get more difficult to judge. #Tangled is in tough competition with The Princess and the Frog for my favorite Disney Princess movie. Tangled represented the resurgence of greatness in Disney Animation, and it's been all uphill from there. It continued the animated musical that Disney does so well. It also represented the shift of gender roles in Disney features. Tangled was a game changer for Disney. In most scenarios it could win, but that year it was going up against the astounding Toy Story 3. This franchise represents an entire generation. This movie brought all the feelings out, and made entire theaters break down in tears. It was a perfect closing chapter to the Pixar all-star franchise. Now that it seems were going back to visit our childhood toys again in Toy Story 4, let's just hope it doesn't take anything away from the third installment.
Winner: Toy Story 3 (Pixar)
'Up' (2009) Vs. 'The Princess And The Frog' (2009)
The Tomato Meter: Up (98%) The Princess and the Frog (84%)
Audience Score: Up (90%) The Princess and the Frog (74%)
Up was able to break the hearts of everyone within the first five minutes of the movie. It's one of the most depressing montages I can think of. After that the audience is introduced to Carl, a cranky old man who doesn't want to leave his house. When he meets Wilderness Explorer Russell, they set off an adventure that proves that life is worth living after heartbreak. It's a wonderful movie, but I honestly think that first five minutes of the film is what boosts it into being great.
In my opinion, The Princess and the Frog is more consistent throughout the whole movie. It's more fun to watch, the songs are great, the characters are magical, and it's a nice throwback to the Disney movies of old. The Princess and the Frog barely beats Up in my opinion, but that may just be because I don't feel like crying every time I turn Up on. With that being said, I can't go against those scores, and I definitely understand Up having more of an emotional and uplifting message.
Winner: Up (Pixar)
'Wall-E' (2008) Vs. 'Bolt' (2008)
The Tomato Meter: Wall-E (96%) Bolt (89%)
Audience Score: Wall-E (89%) Bolt (74%)
Bolt is an adorable, fun, and really good outing for Disney, but unfortunately it's going up against the beautiful, fun, scary, and many other adjectives that can be used to describe Wall-E. Wall-E has to be Pixar's most romantic and socially conscious movie. Wall-E is Pixar working at its full potential. It's able to make the audience laugh, cry, and think without really having much dialogue in the movie. Who would've thought a movie about a trash-compacting robot could say so much? Bolt is fun, but Wall-E is literally on an entirely different planet when it comes to great movies.
Winner: Wall-E (Pixar)
'Ratatouille' (2007) Vs. 'Meet The Robinsons' (2007)
The Tomato Meter: Ratatouille (96%) Meet the Robinsons (66%)
Audience Score: Ratatouille (87%) Meet the Robinsons (74%)
This battle truly hurts my heart. I think Meet the Robinsons is probably the most underrated Disney movie there is. It's so underrated that when I went to Disney World dressed as Wilbur Robinson for Halloween only two of the cast members knew the character. On the other hand, #Ratatouille is probably Pixar's most inspiring film. I have a framed quote of the movie sitting on my desk as I type this. It's the perfect uplifting movie that captures the Disney spirit that Walt intended. "If you can dream it, you can do it." We all need reminders of that sometimes, and we also need to be reminded of Meet the Robinsons' message of "keep moving forward." I think Meet the Robinsons wins in the comedy department here, but once again, Ratatouille is just firing on all cylinders and hitting all the emotional notes.
Winner: Ratatouille (Pixar)
'Cars' (2006) Vs. 'Chicken Little' (2005)
The Tomato Meter: Cars (74%) Chicken Little (36%)
Audience Score: Cars (79%) Chicken Little (47%)
As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a Cars fan. I will go back to my same argument from earlier. These movies just seem like Pixar is phoning it in to make that toy money. With that being said, I have pleasant memories associated with Chicken Little. I think Chicken Little is very funny, and it gets way more flack than what it deserves. Zach Braff gives an amazing performance voicing the main character, and the story of an alien invasion is entertaining and very cute. I think it gets bogged down in the reviews because it is one of Disney's earliest ventures into the computer animated style. I know there are Cars fans because the score indicates that, but the reviews of Chicken Little not delivering on the story is the same way I feel about the Cars franchise. At least Chicken Little is able to deliver jokes and have the viewers laughing.
Winner: Cars (Pixar)
'The Incredibles' (2004) Vs. 'Home On The Range' (2004)
The Tomato Meter: The Incredibles (97%) Home on the Range (54%)
Audience Score: The Incredibles (75%) Home on the Range (28%)
This is absolutely the dark days of Disney Animation against Pixar in its prime. The Incredibles is the movie that lends itself so well to a sequel and it's nice to finally be getting one in 2018. There's really nothing to say about Home on the Range other than it's just bad. There's no heart, no comedy, no emotions whatsoever in this movie. The Incredibles is possibly one of the best superhero movies ever written. There's no argument here.
Winner: The Incredibles (Pixar)
'Finding Nemo' (2003) Vs. 'Brother Bear' (2003)
The Tomato Meter: Finding Nemo (99%) Brother Bear (38%)
Audience Score: Finding Nemo (86%) Brother Bear (64%)
Brother Bear is the movie where the critics and audience score have the greatest difference on this list. This is where I believe critics were tired of seeing the same old Disney movies, seeing the fresh Pixar take, and getting mad at Disney for not doing things like Pixar. #BrotherBear presents a message of love and tolerance, but the power of Pixar was rolling over the animated competition and even challenging the best movies of any studio. There's no denying that Disney and Pixar are spreading positive messages in their movies, whether it be about tolerance or overcoming adversity, or the bond between father and son in #FindingNemo. Pixar was presenting a new way of doing animated features. They were the shiny new toy, and Disney's hand-drawn style was the way of the dinosaurs.
Winner: Finding Nemo (Pixar)
'Monsters, Inc.' (2001) Vs. 'Treasure Planet' (2002), 'Lilo & Stitch' (2002), 'Atlantis: The Lost Empire' (2001), And 'The Emperor's New Groove' (2000)
The Tomato Meter: Monsters, Inc. (96%) Treasure Planet (69%) Lilo & Stitch (86%) Atlantis: The Lost Empire (49%) The Emperor's New Groove (85%)
Audience Score: Monsters, Inc (90%) Treasure Planet (70%) Lilo & Stitch (77%) Atlantis: The Lost Empire (52%) The Emperor's New Groove (83%)
This is where the list gets tricky, and I'm sure some of you will argue my approach here. Monsters, Inc. is a great Pixar movie. In a true battle it easily takes out Treasure Planet and Atlantis: the Lost Empire, but The Emperor's New Groove and Lilo & Stitch could easily be argued to be better than the monsters. This was Pixar in their infancy, but Disney Animation was cranking out movies, and at least half of them were solid hits. I don't think there are very many Disney movies funnier than Emperor's New Groove, and not many that are as heartwarming and unique as Lilo & Stitch.
Monsters, Inc. created an entire world about why the monsters are scaring kids while they sleep, but the Pixar team could focus more time on this once concept while Disney Animation was putting out good, fun movies in mass. #MonstersInc is great, and I believe Lilo & Stich and Emperor's New Groove are great, and Treasure Planet and Atlantis have their cult fan base. It's just hard to give this one to Pixar when Disney was doing much more, and still putting out good work.
Winner: Treasure Planet, Lilo & Stitch, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and The Emperor's New Groove (Disney)
'Toy Story 2' (1999) Vs. 'Tarzan' (1999), 'Fantasia 2000' (1999), And 'Dinosaur' (2000)
The Tomato Meter: Toy Story 2 (100%) Tarzan (88%) Fantasia 2000 (82%) Dinosaur (65%)
Audience Score: Toy Story 2 (86%) Tarzan (74%) Fantasia 2000 (75%) Dinosaur (47%)
It's hard to find a better sequel than Toy Story 2. This movie may be Pixar's crowning jewel, but once again Disney Animation came out with three hits within a two year span while Pixar just released the one movie. Although all three movies are solid ventures for Disney, there's very little that can persuade me from choosing those three movies over Toy Story 2. If I were to be stranded on a desert island, and someone said to me, "you can take Tarzan, Fantasia 2000, and Dinosaur or you can only take Toy Story 2," I would only take Toy Story 2. That movie is pretty much perfection.
Winner: Toy Story 2 (Pixar)
'A Bug's Life' (1998) vs. 'Mulan' (1998) And 'Hercules' (1997)
The Tomato Meter: A Bug's Life (92%) Mulan (86%) Hercules (83%)
Audience Score: A Bug's Life (72%) Mulan (85%) Hercules (75%)
A Bug's Life is the movie that I usually forget is in the Pixar canon. It's a really good outing for Pixar, but it's just not that memorable, even with Kevin Spacey as the villain. #Mulan and #Hercules are the movies that Disney is known for: The childhood favorites that still hold up when you go back to watch them. The type of movies that you want to share with your kids. I'm not saying that A Bug's Life didn't age well, it's still a fun movie to revisit. The problem with revisiting this movie is that the animation does look dated, but the hand-drawn Disney style doesn't seem old or dated, it just is the animation choice. Plus, Hercules and Mulan have some of the best songs in the Disney canon (and now I will have "Zero to Hero" stuck in my head for the next 24 hours).
Winner: Mulan & Hercules (Disney)
'Toy Story' (1995) Vs. 'Pocahontas' (1995) And 'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame' (1996)
The Tomato Meter: Toy Story (100%) Pocahontas (56%) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (73%)
Audience Score: Toy Story (92%) Pocahontas (64%) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (70%)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a very unusual and very depressing movie put out by Disney. I recently went back to watch this movie, and Disney did superb work telling this story. It's absolutely heartbreaking. Pocahontas on the other hand isn't one that ages too well, especially with the Disneyfication of the story. Toy Story brought audiences something absolutely new. It was a new style of storytelling. I can remember the exact moment I saw the trailer for the movie, and it's been engrained in my brain ever since. I even knew then that I was seeing a movie make cinematic history. Without #ToyStory, the animation in cinema is a completely different.
Winner: Toy Story (Pixar)
Winner: Pixar (10 To 7)
Disney Animation is back on track to be ahead of Pixar soon though. Pixar has taken a dip in quality over the past few years, but Disney has been knocking its movies out of the park. We also can't forget about the classic movies Disney released before the first Pixar movie was ever made. If we go by longevity, Disney absolutely has many more great movies in its canon than Pixar, but Pixar has been able to build an impressive portfolio in a little over 20 years.
It's going to be an interesting battle between the two companies for years to come, and that can only mean good things for viewers because competition brings out the best in companies. I, for one, am more than excited to see the best out of these companies for years to come. Pixar seems to be putting more effort to get back to the movies that we came to expect from them. The recent release of the Cars 3 trailer even has me a bit intrigued (See below). Even though both companies have put out a few duds, audiences get excited when they see these two companies have something in the works. It looks like both studios are once again trying to put out their best work, and each release is going to be a pleasant treat for Disney fans.
What's your favorite movie on the list? What's your favorite Disney Animation movie? What's your favorite Pixar movie? Keep the conversation going in the comments below.