Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#WeirdEd Week 5- PIXAR

The most consistent movie studio of the last two decades (yes, TOY STORY came out in '95) is, without a doubt, PIXAR. The joy, wonder, and emotion this small (at first) studio instilled in audiences and infused in their films has brought us all to cheers and tears in theaters across the world.

Each of PIXAR's films deals with different, some might say heavy, subject matter. They began making simple buddy comedies, TOY STORY 1 & 2, MONSTERS INC., but evolved beyond those to tell stories that no one in their right mind could have predicted would work. Seriously, imagine being in the pitch meeting for UP or WALL-E.

"Ok, so it's about a robot in the future. He is a little trash compactor on treads. He can't really speak. In fact, for the first twenty minutes of the movie he is only with a cockroach, and neither of them talk.
There's no real human dialogue for a huge chunk of this children's movie. Also, its message is pretty anti-consumerism so toys probably won't be a huge money-maker. (That's ok, that's why we made CARS, they reply.)"

"Our main character is a widower octogenarian. He hates everyone. We'll see both a miscarriage (or just the bad news his wife can't get pregnant) and her death in the first fifteen minutes, right after we fall in love with her."

Really. At least rats can look cute if you animate them right. Rats in a movie where characters speak French at each other.

PIXAR as a company is what we as teachers should strive to be. They have fall-back money makers they know the kids will love (CARS), but they also tell risky stories that will make kids think without making it obvious they are trying to make kids think (WALL-E). They express diversity and acceptance (BRAVE, RATATOUILLE). They teach friendship and perseverance in the face of  massive adversity (FINDING NEMO, TOY STORY 3). And those are only a small part of the lessons PIXAR whips on us while we're busy repeating, "Escape!" (Fun fact: The great white in NEMO is named Bruce because that's what Steven Spielberg called the animatronic shark in JAWS, which was named after his lawyer.)

**Things to think about**
What's your favorite PIXAR movie? What message did you take away from the movie? Can you use movies like this in your classroom to teach (ignore school policy on movie-showing)? Which PIXAR movie is most successful at expressing its message? Who is your favorite PIXAR character? Am I being too hard on CARS? (I actually like the first CARS for what it is.) Can you use the emotion PIXAR conveys in their stories to teach valuable lessons to your class? Which PIXAR movie are you about to go watch now that I've got you thinking about them?

****Here's the link to this Qs for this week****

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