Definitely one of Disney’s most emotionally mature entries into their animated canon, tackling weighty themes like loss and humanity’s seemingly natural discord and distrust of one another. Heavy stuff. It’s a near perfect synthesis of what they tried to do in their underrated early 2000s actioner efforts like Atlantis and Treasure Planet (and, to a slightly lesser extent, later stuff like Big Hero 6 and Moana) and another welcome evolution of what being a ‘princess’ means and looks like.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Also features some excellent fight and action choreography, like, better than The Raid. Or just like The Raid but with a con-baby.”
Definitely up there with Pixar’s standalone best, giving out some serious Coco and Inside Out vibes just pulled to a stylish metaphysical extreme. The “It’s a Wonderful Life” style themes dealing with the joys of life are front and center, but so too is the drive of creatives to create and what ‘success’ means after chasing it for so long (which absolutely resonated with me as a writer person).
The soundtrack is also outstanding and, of course, it’s another good step forward for the company in terms of diverse characters and leads in their films (but not so much for major representation behind the camera).
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Joe reminds me of my childhood trumpet teacher, and I wonder if he also dealt with the self-doubts and setbacks that Joe did in his life that eventually led him to teaching music as a career (a career I would love to have). I probably should have practiced more to make his job easier. My bad, Roger.”
A fantastic enough questy comedy about brothers, a van, father legs, sons, overcoming loss, and family, featuring some pretty solid D&D references throughout.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Disney and Pixar put out Cars 2 for money, certainly, but also so that when something like Onward or The Good Dinosaur comes out, which are high quality but not UP or Coco or Wall-E levels of high quality, people will say, “well, it’s not Cars 2 so that’s nice.”