Let’s get this clear straight up and up front; there’s kid’s movies and then there’s Pixar.
In my five years of parenting, I’ve seen more than my fair share of kid cinema and, after seeing everything from Shrek to Rio to Storks to Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2, I’ve come to accept two basic facts:
- Pixar is the gold standard of kid’s movies, by far, bar none, hands down, and without a doubt.
- Pixar movies will, inevitably, make you cry.
I don’t care who you are, how solid your thug thizzle may be, how many bodies you’ve caught, or how long you were stateside on a case, there’s a Pixar movie out there waiting to turn you into a sobbing heap of a man. There’s just something about their magical combination of digital animation and empathetic storytelling that can turn a simple flick about some talking fish into a soul-searching moment of naked introspection and vulnerability. Like, you think you’re about to sit down and watch an hour and a half of wisecracking toys and the next thing you know, you’re on the phone with your moms begging her to go up in the attic, find He-Man and tell him you’re sorry.
Pixar will punch you in the feels, bruh. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
As a father and as a Black man, I feel like I owe it to the unindoctrinated out there to let them know how, when, and where a Pixar flick is gonna send them over the edge so they can be prepared for the inevitable eye-sweats they’ll experience watching these movies with their kids.
- Finding Dory: The seashells lead her home.
If you’re familiar with Dory from the original Finding Nemo, you know she’s the emotional straw that stirs the drink in the films. So when you think all hope is lost and then they flip it and you see she’s finally made it home, it’s a legit deep sigh and “aww” moment, homey.
- Monsters Inc: Sully takes Boo home.
In a world where the tormentors are secretly the tormented, theirs was a relationship that just wasn’t supposed to be. And in the end, when Sully does what he’s gotta do for the little girl he risked everything for as a loose allegory for fatherhood itself, it’s straight up throat lumps, dawg.
- Wall-E: Eva and Wall-E first hold hands.
It’s a love story about two robots whose only dialog consists of saying each other’s’ names and yet, they convey a depth of feeling that’s betrayed Will Smith his entire career. But when them to metallic muthafuckas finally recognize what they got going on, and you’re reminded of the first time you knew the one you’re with was the one you was gonna be with, it’s sniffles time, chief.
- The Good Dinosaur: Arlo’s father gets swept away in the flood.
It’s shades of Mufasa and we know that made you misty back in the day, mayne.
- Up: Russell’s dad is a sack of shit.
Yeah, Russell is mad annoying and you find yourself not liking him because he’s a rolling series of fuck-ups and calamities, but then you find out his old man is a deadbeat and his stepmom is a world class asshole and you want to help him get his Vengeance Badge whilst wiping away a single tear or solidarity, G.
- Toy Story 2: Jesse’s kid grows up.
Sarah McLaughlin has served as the soundtrack for abused puppies and lost kittens for almost 20 years now, so you put that voice over the age-old tale of a first friendship left behind in childhood’s waning days and you can bet you’re cuttin’ onions, big dog.
- Up: The first five minutes.
Talk about a gut-punch. I hadn’t been thrown off by the opening sequence of a movie like that since Saving Private Ryan. First you’re all like, “Hey, this is like my grandparent. I love my grandparents, “ but then you’re like, “Waaaaait, this isn’t like my grandparents because…” and then you’re like, “WHY HAVE I BEEN SO MEAN TO OLD PEOPLE?!?!”. Next thing you know, sob city, breh.
- Inside Out: Bing-Bong’s sacrifice.
Man, listen. Pixar got me on the bait-and-switch hard for this one. You don’t see Bing-Bong in none of the promos. You don’t know about Bing-Bong from none of the trailers. In fact, they kinda just introduce Bing-Bong to you as an ancillary character to expedite plot exposition until it’s too late, you’re emotionally attached and then they kill him. Mutha. Fuckin’. Bing-Bong. He will turn them tear ducts to ten, dude.
- Inside Out: Sadness takes the wheel.
This one’s going back to back for a reason; Pixar literally made a movie about feelings and its apex involved embracing sadness. C’mon, son. How am I not supposed to well up and let the snot cannon loose when literal Sadness is telling me it’s okay to let it out? You can best believe it’ll have you weepy, woadie.
- Toy Story 3: The incinerator scene.
This scene right here, after Toy Story and Toy Story 2, after all we’ve been through with Andy’s toys, to see them escape Sunnyside only to wind up betrayed on a conveyer belt facing their impending doom and resigned to their fate in the flames… AND THEN THEY ALL HOLD HANDS. Maaaaaaaaaaan, I looked at my wife as a grown ass adult tax paying man and said, “Wait, it can’t end like this,” while trying to hold back a legitimate Brian McKnight one last cry. That scene, man. If it doesn’t push you over the edge, your soul is made of tar and you love nothing in this world. That’s apex Pixar feels.
So now you know and it’s okay to cry, fellas. Your secrets are safe here.