Ah, Miyazaki. His mama raised him right! I’m totally going to sound snobby, but I’m going to say it, “Pixar stuff is overrated” and Miyazaki stuff is underrated (in the States anyway). Uh oh. Maybe it’s the foreign factor (I suspect it’s a big factor). I was watching some youtube vids of clips/music from some Miyazaki movies not too long ago, when I felt multiple bouts of nostalgia. And then I realized, “I never feel that way towards Pixar movies.” Lion King, yes. Pixar movies, no.
They were entertaining when I watched them, but that’s it. Fin. I remember enjoying the Toy Stories, but no particular scene or concept pops out at me. The same goes for almost every other Pixar movie. Cars? Meh. “Helloooo Porsche.” Nemo? Centrifuged cuteness = one trick pony. I remember little from Monsters, Inc.
Visually Pixar stuff is great, but they just don’t seem to push the creativity envelope that much. To be honest, they don’t seem to go beyond the inherent, default creativity of using non-human avatars. But that’s been done since Steamboat Willie. Congrats, you’ve got talking toys and a rat.
Rather, they seem to go for macro-creativity. “Ok, we got a rat, now let’s make him a chef and have the whole movie revolve about that.” “We got a talking car, and he needs to discover himself and what really matters.” Tried and true, human development stories as told through non-human entities. Cute, but not memorable. I have re-runs of The Wonder Years for that.
On the other hand, I wasn’t a huge fan of Mononoke Hime either, and yet, particular moments from its rich tapestry still stand out. Girl wearing a murder mask with a dagger doing the dance of death. There is beauty in her savagery. Her mother is a giant wolf. Dude riding a giant deer thing. The animal alliance. The music. Now that I think about it, Wall-e is like the visually upgraded, preachier, yet less diverse version of Mononoke Hime. And Wall-e’s already faded from my mind.
Then there’s Spirited Away, one of my favs. I found the main girl’s depicted mannerisms to be one of the most observant of any animation I’ve seen in a long time. I acutely remember how the girl is shown when she tries to go down the scary steps. It seemed so realistic. It actually stirred some feelings and memories of when I got stuck in high places as a young kid. I also remember thinking how I would probably never see something observant like that in an American movie, and that it seemed to reinforce the stereotype that America is about brute strength, whereas Japan/everywhere else is about finesse. American muscle cars vs nimble imports. We can throw a bucket of cute at you, but we can’t get the little details down.
And of course, the famous Totoro. Wasn’t a big fan either. But come on, cat bus. And…giant fuzzy, scary, gray, bear thing.
I suppose it’s not fair to compare G-targetted Pixar movies with Miyazaki films that may contain more adult elements. Miyazaki can push a bit more. He has a wider palette accessible to him. Yet, his works tend to be a bit more understated. Pixar movies go for consistency for the whole family, but Quad Damage shotgun you in the face with cute. MOREEE? YOU WANT MORE?? It’s like, “Do you want a less interesting, but bountiful flat line with a consistent score of B or something a little more interesting and risque that oscillates between C and A?” Do you want one guaranteed, pleasing musical note, or a mix-up that you may or may not find favorable?
I wish I could find it, but I read an industry article somewhere long ago where Miyazaki was pretty much hailed as the god of animated stories by international “peers”. I think even some Pixar dudes were in it saying how they aimed to do what Miyazaki does. Not to be mean, but I don’t think they ever will, to be honest. They’ve been around for quite some time, and they’re not exactly pushing any edges or raising any bars (except for the visual side). I don’t think the investors would have it any other way anymore, because they’re a great, highly profitable, cuteness factory. It’d be cool if they pulled an Anne Hathaway.
I mean, check out this article.
Pixar takes a risk with ”The Incredibles” — With a new director, a PG rating…
Still, good stuff. I watched Ratatouille a second time and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. I just don’t find very much of it memorable or nostalgic. Oh, wait. When the critic gets his flashback. That was cool. Holy shit it’s 5am. I need a DeLorean.