I love animated films. All that is required for you to enjoy this post is that you love them, too.
If, on the other hand, you think that animated films are for kids only, or that you’re above watching anything that resembles a cartoon – well, in that case, I have two things to say to you: go away. You may think you’re acting very “adult” (or some such rot), but as Lewis so glibly put it: “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
Lastly, I should add that this is not a list of the Greatest Animated Films of All-Time (though I think many of the ones mentioned here would make such a list); it is simply a collection of my personal favorites – the ones that are nearest and dearest to my heart, brain, and funny-bone.
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
That’s right: the number one spot goes to Monsters, Inc. And if you haven’t at least seen it, you have no business calling yourself a cinephile. Pixar has given us a vast array of superb films, but for me, this one is the cream of the crop. The story, the characters, the script, the “monstrous” animation – it all works. Perfectly. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Mike’s line: “Sulley, put that Thing back where it came from, or so help me…”
The Incredibles (2004)
Sleek artwork. Remarkable voice-acting. Slam-bang action. Brilliant script. Unforgettable characters. Thrilling storyline. Great message. All this to say, The Incredibles is incredible. In the words of R.L. Shaffer, it’s “a sharp, even amusing, homage to comic book lore, a great family-friendly action-comedy, and a thoughtful marital drama all wrapped up in a deliciously exciting package.”
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Simply terrific. It has an absorbing plot, an impressive cast, smart pulp writing, and consistently impressive action – all of which make it one of the finest examples of comic book filmmaking I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. What really makes it stand out, however, is the emotion and thematic depth of the storytelling. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Just remember one thing: while most of the films listed here are appropriate for all ages, this one is emphatically not. It’s grim, sobering, and loaded with considerable amounts of violence (including a murder which will make even the most hardened viewer cringe). Taking that into account, older fans will find Under the Red Hood well worth their time and consideration.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
The final installment of the Toy Story series is undoubtedly the best – leave it to good ol’ Pixar to craft one of the finest, most memorable threequels of all time. Even now, I can’t quite get over how awesome it is: the story, the art, the cast, everything. And the ending… wow. Just wow. I echo the words of an anonymous wise-man who had this to say: “You think Titanic was sad? Try watching the ending of Toy Story 3.”
Despicable Me (2010)
This is a slapstick comedy featuring some of the most hilarious characters ever conceived. Those who watch it are pretty much guaranteed an hour and a half of pure, unadulterated, side-splitting fun. Carell and Segal are delightful as the villainous rivals, and the animation – full of odd shapes and settings – fits the story and offers plenty of visual appeal. Plus, the script is simply loaded with awesomeness: “We stole the Statue of Liberty… the small one from Las Vegas.”
Filled with visual razzle-dazzle, sophisticated storytelling, and charming characters, WALL-E is yet another stunning example of Pixar’s artfulness and ingenuity in the realm of filmmaking. It’s unfortunate, then, that it’s also severely misunderstood. Contrary to popular opinion, WALL-E is not a commentary on environmentalism or obesity; anyone who thinks that it is ought to do some serious re-watching, because they’ve missed the point entirely. This is a movie about relationships. No technology, no matter how advanced, can ever replace the need for love and interaction between human beings. In an age overrun by gadgets and mechanical wizardry, that’s a message we need to hear. Our world isn’t so different from WALL-E’s, after all.
A masterpiece. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cheer. This critic says it best: “At a time when too many animated films consist of anthropomorphized animals cracking sitcom one-liners and flatulence jokes, the warmth, originality, humor, and unflagging imagination of Up feel as welcome as rain in a desert.”
Quirky to the core, and laced with ironic asides and clever jabs at the superhero genre Ferrell is pitch perfect as the bored-to-death super villain, and Pitt lends a fair share of humor to the film as Metro Man. I was also pleasantly surprised by how little of the funny stuff relied on innuendo or bodily functions – a quality that’s pretty rare in family comedies these days.
Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers (1993)
“They’re techno-trousers, ex-NASA, fantastic for walkies!” Did you honestly expect to read this list and not find at least one Aardman film? How naive. Out of all the W&G films, this one is my favorite: A Grand Day Out and A Close Shave are both excellent, but The Wrong Trousers takes the cake for inventiveness, humor, and storytelling excellence. It also offers an enlightening look at the true nature of penguins. You’ll never look at those flightless, black-and-white birds the same way again. I guarantee it.
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (2009)
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs takes some significant liberties with the original short story – and succeeds in every way possible. It’s funny and it’s strange – very strange, but in a good way. And watch out: when the food begins to fall, you just might feel the urge to snack. No joke. I’m dead serious about that. Speaking from experience, you see.
Now what about you? Leave a comment (or two, or three) and share your favorite animated films with the rest of us!