There are two new Pixar movies on the way, but only one of them has a trailer that brought back feelings from my childhood.
George Clooney has been widely quoted for his philosophy of movie-making, which sounds more like a motto: “one for them, one for me.”
Depending on how you want to look at it, it’s the idea that you don’t always go for that art house movie or the project with the Black List script everyone’s talking about. Sometimes, you also need to please your fan base, your Cumberbitches and your Hiddlestoners (no, for real, that’s what Tom Hiddlestone fans call themselves, it’s great).
By sticking to that mantra, we as an audience get to pay for a ticket to sit and watch a mix of great storytelling, acting, and charm. But by the same token, we also pay to watch stuff like this. And this.
If there’s a studio that seems to operate on Clooney’s principle is Pixar. Usually, you can tell what’s up from the moment you find out who is directing the newest film being promoted.
Before the big internal shake-up at the studio —and the many Cars sequels and spin-offs— I used to get excited when hearing John Lasseter would direct the next Pixar film. As I grew up and my tastes evolved, I found that this was no longer the case.
In 2001, Monsters, Inc. premiered around the world and 16-year-old me walked out of the Alhambra Plus theater in Chanis feeling like the world had changed for the better. Years later, the same feeling would be replicated by The Incredibles, then Ratatouille and Up.
Ever since then, my favorite Pixar movie directors have been Brad Bird and Pete Docter, constantly in a competition totally made up by my brain to see who can one-up the other with their latest film. Brad Bird doesn’t really work at Pixar, he’s more like a neighbor who sometimes gets invited to the house to play with the newest Nintendo console.
Even when their ideas don’t go as well as the pitch, both directors try to say something meaningful and powerful with their stories. The movies they direct aren’t just for them, they’re for me and you too.
What’s the score, you ask? They’re tied at the moment. Docter’s Inside Out was very uhhh… insightful, but I didn’t connect with its story as strongly as I did when meeting Dug in Up. Likewise, Bird’s Incredibles 2 threaded similar beats as the first film, but didn’t manage to give me a ‘100 Mile Dash‘ level of teary-eyed emotion.
So now we’re gearing up for two new Pixar movies coming next year and they could not be any different in their tone and message. The trailer for the first of the two follows:
Onward follows the story of two brothers played by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland on a literal mystic quest to bring their dad back from the dead for one day. It’s directed by Dan Scanlon and, although it looks fun, it doesn’t vibe with me at a personal level.
Now, this, is Pixar’s Soul; the story of Joe Gardner, a middle-grade music teacher trying to make it big as a jazz musician, voiced by Jamie Foxx.
Just as he’s about to catch his first big break, Mr. Gardner also catches an unexpected case of leaving this world, but instead of arriving at the pearly gates, his soul is caught in a strange place where he meets a younger soul played by Tina Fey.
The way this teaser draws the viewer in with its inspirational dialogue and relatable scenery is the kind of thing I live for. It’s almost enough to make up for the fact that the trailer carries a sad undertone and, seen from a distance, pulls the same tricks as Up‘s Ellie and Carl montage.
I will definitely watch it in a theater, not just because I want to see if Pete Docter can come out on top in my mind’s competition —that’s a given— but also to find out what’s the story there, with Mr. Gardner. Somehow, I already feel deeply connected to this character and I care to see that he is OK.
Onward arrives in theaters on March, 2020, followed by Soul on June 19th the same year.