In a way, every filmmaker is really just playing with moving light and color on surfaces. That’s the whole ball game, a filmic given. But Pixar takes it further, or perhaps just does it more self-consciously and systematically. Its emotionally weighty, computer-generated animated films deploy precisely calibrated color and light to convey narrative and emotion—from the near-total absence of green in WALL-E (until postapocalyptic robots find the last plant on Earth) to the luminous orange marigolds that symbolize Miguel’s trip to the magical Land of the Dead in Coco through the contrast between the cool blue luminosity of the afterlife with the warm, snuggly sepia of New York City in last year’s Soul.
While the term “hack your brain” seems mildly offensive, I get it. Pixar is almost Steve Jobs-like obsesses with quality and style and it shows. You just know what to expect from seeing one of their films and it frequently is entertaining at least.
The recent Oscars paid Soul some love. Well deserved.
That was supposed to be the niche Quibi thrived at. You’re at a grocery store in line or in a doctor’s office waiting and want to watch something brief and light. Then again, we already have that — it’s called YouTube.
Here’s the full list of Pixar Popcorn shorts:
“To Fitness and Beyond”: Buzz Lightyear leads an aerobics class for Bonnie’s toys. “Unparalleled Parking”: The Cars crew have a friendly parallel parking competition. “Dory Finding”: Dory is delighted to find some trinkets at the bottom of the ocean. “Soul of the City”: New York City comes to life in the eyes of a minor character from Soul. “Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love”: Ducky and Bunny from Toy Story 4 compete for kids’ love. “Chore Day – The Incredibles Way”: The Parrs do chores, super-style. “A Day in the Life of the Dead”: Just your average day in the afterlife of Coco. “Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads”: Bo’s sheep has three heads. What’s up with that? “Dancing with the Cars”: The cars show off their dancing skills. “Cookie Num Num”: It’s midnight-snack time at the Parr residence. So who gets the last cookie?
I liked the idea behind Pixar Popcorn ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and reviewed it positively. Sure, there wasn’t a lot of meat on the bones, but these weren’t intended to be full movies. They aren’t even really anthology short stories, they are shorter than that.
There’s power in brevity.
These animated shorts remind me of flash fiction. I’ve written a bunch of flash fiction stories, even have a book full of flash stories (pictured right) called Flash O’Lantern, for those interested. You can find it on Amazon, but it isn’t my point to self-advertise my fiction work, it’s to draw a parallel between the types of storytelling and length.
Flash fiction is more about the basic story idea itself, or a simple concept, leaving your imagination to do the heavy work and providing at most a scene or three and usually a small number of characters and sparse detail. Often these stories are less than 1,000 words. That’s very word economical considering the average novel is around 75,000 words. Novellas take care of the space between short stories and novels and short stories are everything between a novella and flash fiction. Probably a little less these days, where self-published authors have driven the word count down (and that’s a good thing, IMHO).
I’m not advocating for artificial movie runtimes — because the story should always dictate the length — but personally I believe that 70-110 minutes is the ideal length for the vast majority of feature length movies. Two hours is stretching it. Two and a half is too long. Three hours plus is crazy. Four hours is, well, don’t even get me started.
Once something has gone over a couple hours, it’s time to start thinking of a TV series or miniseries or multiple parts. Those are better platforms for larger scale worlds to build. I don’t think there’s much argument that when a massive work is condensed into a movie when it should have been a miniseries or full TV series that too much can be cut and lost, killing the spirit and depth of the work. Nothing wrong with longer works, just like you don’t use a screwdriver to pound a nail, just use the right tool for the job.
To pull this back to Pixar Popcorn. More, please! What do you think? Would you enjoy seeing more shorter works? Perhaps collections of them like this?
Disney’s love for theaters during the pandemic is questionable at best.
Pixar movies have historically been movie theater register grinders. They usually have good legs and make money week in and week out, grossing lots of box office $$$. The last Pixar movie, Onward, was unfortunately cut short due to theaters closing. Next scheduled is Soul. Was, rather.
Pixar’s “Soul” is skipping theaters and will debut exclusively on Disney Plus in time for Christmas. The animated family film will launch on the streaming service on Dec. 25. In international markets where Disney Plus isn’t available, “Soul” will be released theatrically on a yet-to-be determined date.
We’re Disney+ subscribers and appreciate the exclusive content, thank you, but what about the theaters? Sure, Regal (temporarily) quit the fight again and closed, but AMC is doing everything they can to reopen their chain. If/when New York and Los Angeles fall into line, they will be nearly 100% reopened in America. The theaters need new movies and Disney sees Universal push up the Croods sequel to compete against Soul and they decide to go the Disney+ exclusive route — again.
Why didn’t they move up Soul sooner in theaters? Did it have to be in November? Like, say, this past weekend to compete against War with Grandpa? Or put it against Liam Neeson and Honest Thief next weekend? Let it run in whatever theaters are open to satisfy the theatrical window and then move to Disney+ around Christmas time?
No, instead, they just abort the theater experience altogether. I don’t get it. If they truly want to support movie theaters, then put out some freaking movies in theaters for us cinephiles to enjoy! Will Black Widow be next? Some are speculating yes, but due to the large budget that seems unlikely.
Then again … ?
Pixar movies aren’t exactly inexpensive to make either. The budget for Soul was $150 million. That budget size movie — unless you’re Netflix, anyway — pretty much needs to open in theaters. And yet it’s not. Mulan’s budget was $200 million and that didn’t open domestically in theaters either.
Some are speculating that Soul looks like a not very kid-friendly Pixar movie . Death is a dark subject, but that was dealt with in Onward. This takes it even further, however. Check out the official trailer:
The trailer looks good. Argh, why Disney, why not release this sooner in theaters?
Pretty obvious, but I’m bummed not being able to see Soul on the big screen in America. It’s not just me hopelessly devoted to the big screen, though, this doesn’t make financial sense. Disney is hemorrhaging cash everywhere right now, laying off employees and then throws this bone to the 60+ million Disney+ subscribers. Will they pick up a few more subscribers around Christmas time? Sure. Will it replace $$$ lost $$$ not having domestic theater revenue? Maybe. Maybe not.
It’s important to note for readers abroad, some international audiences will still be able to enjoy this in theaters, but we’re not hopping a plane and traveling somewhere to see this movie. There has been no international release date announced. So, the international audience is being denied an earlier theater release, too.
Are you bappy to see Soul skip theaters and go Disney+ exclusively? Or would you rather have seen it as a theatrical release first? Still not feeling safe enough to return to theaters (that’s OK to feel that way), so it’s moot? Or don’t really care about this film either way? Please weigh in below.