5 Days of Finchnwren’s Fabulous Family Movies–Day 2, Pixar!

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VeggieTales might have introduced us to the CGI world, but Pixar Animation Studios are  probably the world’s best-known CGI animated filmmakers.  In my opinion, Pixar has something special that I haven’t seen replicated elsewhere.  John Lasseter and his team have been creating characters and storylines that have captured our hearts since 1995’s “Toy Story,” although Pixar’s been in existence since 1985.  Steve Jobs had a hand in its incorporation beginning in 1986, and The Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar in 2006.  And Pixar is still producing amazing work…..and John Lasseter’s magic touch is even affecting Disney pictures now (like last year’s wonderful “Frozen.”)

We have a number of family faves that we’ve purchased.  Here’s a short list of our most-beloved Pixar presentations!

Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3

By the time Toy Story 2 begins, Woody and Buzz are best friends.  Andy heads off to summer camp and Woody, while rescuing a toy penguin set out in the dreaded yard sale, is swiped by a toy collector who’s ready to make a big deal—selling a retro collection (which Woody completes) to a Japanese toy museum!  Themes of faithfulness, friendship and self-sacrifice are woven throughout this story.  Will Woody head off to fame in Japan or remain home with his toy friends to his beloved Andy?

Toy Story 3 picks up several years after Toy Story 2 concludes; Andy is getting ready to head off to college and the family is packing up his toys to either save or to give to a local day care center.  Although Andy plans to take Woody with him to college, boxes are carried to the day care center by mistake…..and Woody has to rescue his toy friends from a despotic dictator of a teddy bear!

We love both of these movies.  I’d recommend parents view them before showing them to the children; there are some scary elements (Zurg, Lotso, the fire at the dump) and toilet humor.  In the outtakes of Toy Story 2 Stinky Pete is caught cozying up to two dolls (uck), and there are some flirty moments between Buzz and Jessie, Bo-Peep and Woody and Barbie and Ken in the two films.  However, parents can just use their DVD remotes or the mute buttons for these, like we do.  (Over the years we’ve found that the remotes are our best friends!)  The overall themes of love, friendship, faithfulness and family are wonderful.

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A rat….an uneducated chef-wannabe…Paris…..doesn’t sound like an appealing trio, does it?  But of course Lasseter and team make it so!  Remy (the rat) dreams of food…of cooking…of becoming a chef.  And not just a chef…a FRENCH chef.  Linguini (the young man) wants to be a chef but has no idea what he’s doing in the kitchen.  The two partner to create great success at Gusteau’s (the famous deceased chef who said “Anyone can cook!” and who has recurring appearances as Remy’s conscience) Restaurant….hidden, of course, because who wants a rat in a fine restaurant’s kitchen??  The ending is unexpected and charming.  But the moment that sells me on the movie, that captivated me when I saw it the first time and still causes me to be still and closely observe….is the point when the snooty food critic, Anton Ego, visits Gusteau’s Restaurant under the management of the two unlikely partners.  It is almost a perfect moment in film, animated or not!

There are perilous moments, a brief scene of intense smooching….as always, preview first before you watch it as a family.  But the overall themes?  Family and love, working in one’s gifting, fulfilling one’s calling despite what others say….these are all powerful messages.  And they’ll generate some great conversation, I imagine!

The Incredibles

I’ll admit it.  In our family, we are suckers for superheroes.  Sadly, so many movies about superheroes are rated PG-13…and are way above our boy’s level, in terms of what’s appropriate, beneficial and good for his spirit.  We bought “The Incredibles” years ago, when Jackson was just a toddler….and we waited quite awhile to show it to him.

As a matter of fact, he STILL hasn’t seen the WHOLE movie.  And this is DEFINITELY one that you’ll want to preview first.  (We fast forward a freaky moment in the cave on the island, the first interaction between Syndrome and Mr. Incredible, and the final showdown between the two of them.  Just too much for our family!)

Bob and Helen Parr are in the superheroes’ equivalent of the Witness Protection Program.  Once revered by the nation, they were ostracized and hidden away when public opinion turned against them.  He works (unhappily) in insurance; she’s a homemaker and stay-at-home mom to their three kids Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack (two of whom inherited their parents’ powers).  Bob longs to be out fighting crime again, and “making a difference;” he’s largely unaware of what’s happening in his own family, who is somewhat disconnected with each other and bearing the burden of hiding the truth of who they really are.

Suddenly, the opportunity to fight crime and save the world comes to Bob again….or does it?  The Parrs are thrust into a life-and-death battle against a terrible nemesis.  What will the outcome be?

This movie is definitely the most perilous and, at times, frightening of all the Pixar movies I’m mentioning today.  And I thought long and hard before including it in this list, wanting parents to know I really don’t recommend it for small children.  It would, however, be a great movie for ages 12 and up, shared together with parents.  The shining light for me, though, is what I’ve never seen in another movie; a family, blessed with unbelievable abilities, striving against a destructive enemy together.  Through terribly difficult experiences and sometimes poor choices, they become more at the end of the movie than they were at the beginning (spoiler alert!); closer, more honest, more loving, able to work together as a tight unit.

I LOVE that.

For in the end, isn’t that what we all want for our families?  (Superpowers notwithstanding.)  Close relationships, appreciation for one another’s gifts, love and encouragement in our daily tasks.  Working together to achieve more as a whole than we could apart.

I thought a lot, after I finished this post, if there was a recurring theme in my Pixar faves. Well, there is!  I’m not only a sucker for superhero stories, but most definitely one for stories of redemption, and these four movies all have that in one way or another:

  • Redemption from wrong ambitions and a return to life and relationship
  • Redemption in the form of continued life and blessing for someone else
  • Redemption for the purpose of a life
  • Redemption from a stilted life of secrets, where characters walk into full expression of gifts and joy

What a blessing!

These wonderful ladies are also participating in our 5-Days of….Blog Hop.  They’re writing about the topics below and I know they will bless you as they have me….check them out!

Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story ~ Making Homeschooling Fun! – Take it Outside

Marcy @ Ben and Me ~ Helping Children in Uganda – Orphan Care

Wendy @ Simplicity Breeds HappinessAround the World: Jamaican Jerk Chicken (Recipe)

Sarah @ Delivering Grace — Learning About England History Resources

Victoria @ Homemaking with HeartNature Study: Out and About

Joanie @ Simple Living Mama ~ 5 Days of Charlotte Mason Preschool – Outside Play

Gwen @ Tolivers to Texas ~ A Happy, Peaceful Home: Genuinely Enjoying Your Family

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses ~ FREE History Resources for Homeschool


And if you’d like to see what over 60 Crew bloggers are writing about this week, link over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!


Enjoy!  –Wren