The Purpose of Pixar


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Pixar is one of the most beloved film companies in the world, and for good reason.


There is no movie company like Pixar. While others try to emulate them, there is something special about Pixar itself. There are many things about their films that create an entirely different experience for the viewer than, say, a typical Disney movie. While there are positive things about those certain movies, there are no parallels to Pixar when it comes to emotion. In Pixar movies, there are many things to keep children entertained, but for adults, it is a very similar experience. The magic of those movies creates emotional experiences that can either help manifest forgotten feelings or even comfort people at the lowest point in their lives.  They bring back nostalgic memories that feel like a warm blanket that you can wrap yourself inside, snug and soft with the memories of the past. 

Due to a dry period in new films, the Palms movie theater in Waukee has embraced classic Disney and Pixar movies, filling their theaters with kids and adults alike to create and relive memories. By playing old favorites such as Monsters Inc, Palms, and other theaters around the country have transported the audiences to the past, bringing back bittersweet memories and reminders of simpler times when experiencing old movies on the big screen. Below are two different experiences seeing Monsters Inc in theaters, as well as other Pixar classics.




I never had that one movie that defined my childhood. Sure, there were plenty that I can remember watching as a kid, but when looking back, I can’t recall the one that had the most impact, the one that shaped me into the person I am today. I can’t even remember which one was my favorite. It wasn’t until I began watching the movies in a new light that I finally saw them for the beautiful mess they are- and the beautiful mess of emotions that they make you feel. In my sophomore year of high school, I embarked on a wonderful journey on a charter bus full of over-caffeinated teenagers to the happiest place on earth: Disney World. For a place I haven’t been since I was a child, I was excited to create new memories and relive old ones. To feel the magic in the air. But alas, in a crowded park full of my peers and thousands from around the globe, I was all by myself. I was miserable in a place where dreams come true.

On one of the last days, when attending Disney and Pixar short film festival, I watched the short film Feast, about a dog’s relationship with his owner and food. It broke me. The film, where the dog found happiness and belonging while helping his human find happiness and belonging, hit harder than I knew was possible. It made me realize I didn’t have my own happiness. And I didn’t have a dog or anyone for that matter, that would run through the streets to help me find my happiness. I was all alone, left with my depressive thoughts. When leaving the theater and entering the gift shop, I grabbed the closest support item I could find- a Sully pillow pet. Without a second thought, I bought it. I needed something, anything at that moment. He brought me comfort and companionship. It was relief through the pain. Months later, I clenched him in my arms as I entered the hospital for suicidal ideation. I left the same way as I went in, with it on my lap but with less of a heavy heart. The character of Sully has grown to have great meaning to me. He was a great friend in the movie, with his love and affection shining through to Boo. He fought as hard as he could to bring her home. He fought as hard as he could to bring me home.

Another Pixar character I find extreme comfort in is Inside Outs, Bing Bong. With the body of a cotton candy hot pink elephant and a fluffy cat tale, Bing Bong is the ultimate made-up character and imaginary childhood best friend. When he found Joy and Sadness lost, he eagerly went to help them find their way back to headquarters, knowing it’s what he had to do to bring Riley happiness. Even though he led on a pretty difficult journey, such as them almost becoming nonexistent with abstract thinking, he always had Rileys’ best interest in mind. He just wanted to help. 

It was when Joy and Bing Bong fell into the pit of forgotten memories that tears began to fall. When figuring out how to escape, they find Bing Bong and Riley’s old rocket powered by song, they get in and sing. They sing at the top of their lungs. 

Who’s your friend who likes to play? Bing Bong! Bing Bong! His rocket makes you shout hooray Bing Bong! Bing Bong! Who’s the best in every way, and wants to sing this song to say, Bing Bong! Bing Bong! 

Bing Bong knew it wasn’t going to make it and jumped out. He paid the ultimate sacrifice to get Joy out: himself. To save Riley and to get her to find happiness, he let himself disappear into nothing. To be completely forgotten. While this scene in my opinion is one of the saddest in Pixar history, it’s also one of the most comforting. In a way, Bing Bong was one of the first things that were really there for Riley. He gave her warmth and comfort as a child and did the same when she was older. 

Bing Bongs’ character is a great representation of unconditional love. Someone who shows unconditional love is someone who would do anything, and I mean anything, for you. Is someone who loves you despite your faults and flaws. Who always wants you to be happy and for you to do your best. Who still loves you even when you question if they do, or in Bing Bongs case, forget that they exist. Bing Bong brings me comfort in a way that reminds me that I am not alone. He reminds me that even when it doesn’t seem like it, I am cared about. That my happiness and well being is a priority. That I am loved. So as the tears stream down my face, it’s not all out of the sadness of a beloved character passing, but out of the fact that it was out of love and support. Throughout the movie, Riley’s happiness and well being is everyone’s priority. Joy and Sadness want to get home to give her back the memories that make her herself. Inside out is an emotional mess, but for a reason. Your emotions get out of whack, but joy and the feeling of being happy are always there. It might just be a journey to find it. 




“Kitty has to go.”

It is very hard for me to start crying, especially from sadness. However, every time I hear this line delivered in Pixar’s simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking classic film Monster’s Inc, I break down. The line is so simple and short, yet completely heart wrenching. While I was at the movie theater with Paige, I tried my hardest not to cry, but, despite all of my efforts, I broke into tears. When I got home, I wondered… why? What about that scene that made me cry? What happened that made this scene so emotional for me? While there are many things in my life I could attribute and connect the emotion to, there is one event that could explain my newfound emotional state. Emily.

Even before Emily was born, she had a face, arms, legs, a personality, feelings, loves, hates, everything. The Whitson family couldn’t have been more excited. But at a routine doctor’s appointment where we were supposed to hear the gender of the child from the doctor, we learned that instead of having a sister, we would have a funeral. This was something that a third grader should never have to go through. While this is not as severe as losing a parent, grandparent, or a sibling you know, it still exposed my young mind to something it couldn’t understand: death. Even now, I cannot process the concept of going somewhere and never coming back, but as a third grader? I had to watch my mom and dad grieve over something I couldn’t understand. I was angry and sad. There would be times I would break down into tears over small nothings, such as The Bridge to Terabithia or, later in life, Monsters Inc. 

Pixar movies have an amazing tendency to include emotions that may be foreign to young children, which is their primary audience. While to children, Sully saying goodbye to Boo may be sad, like saying goodbye to a grandparent when they go home, to adults it could mean something much more depressing: death. When Sully says “Kitty has to go”, it was meant to be a one-way trip. No going back. Sully could never see Boo again. This is not the type of goodbye that you say to a friend or a loved one. It is a goodbye more akin to seeing a loved one die. This can also be seen in Pixar’s Coco, which was released in 2016, where the main character Miguel is forced into the land of the living, moments before his great- great grandfather, Hector, disappears forever. The viewer is led to think that someone that the main character loves will never be seen again. 

This is played in a different way in Pixar’s Onward, where brothers Ian and Barley, get the incredible opportunity to see their long-deceased father one last time. As a brother, there is nothing that I would not do for my sisters. I would try to run through a brick wall for them. But if I got the opportunity to have a conversation with Emily, meet her and get to know her, I would be the happiest person in the world. This is kind of similar to Ian’s struggle in Onward, although instead of a sister he is missing a parent. He gets to meet someone that was loved by his family that he has never met himself, but sacrifices it so that Barely could say goodbye to his father. 

However, in all cases in Pixar movies, good triumphs. Boo’s door is opened. Miguel uses music to revive Hector. Marlin finds Nemo. Dory finds her parents. The Incredibles defeat Syndrome. Barley sees his dead father. There is reconciliation, the sins of the past are left there. It is a common theme within Pixar movies. I often attribute Pixar as its own genre, which can only be described as a journey. The protagonists (there are usually, or always two) have to embark on an epic quest, whether it is through a workplace like in Monsters Inc, the Land of the Dead as in Coco, or a literal quest as in Onward. On those quests, they grow. They learn about themselves and others close to them. They see everything from a new perspective and get closer to each other. They deal with loss and grief, and in the end, when all the odds are stacked against them, they win. They beat the odds. 

But that does not stop the emotions from attacking.