Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Up, and Cars are just a few of the hits that help to make up the current viewing favorites of children across America. While Disney’s fantastic logo appears before the opening credits of every one of these movies, it is the less spectacular logo of the animation studio Pixar that is celebrated within the industry, and with great reason. The documentary The Pixar Story pulls back the curtain on the mysterious studio that has produced some of the most memorable animated characters since the early days of animation.
Thankfully, The Pixar Story is more than just a celebration of Pixar’s seemingly endless list of accomplishments. It is a chronicle of the long journey to success that almost didn’t happen. The story is told primarily by those who lived through it. People like Steve Jobs and John Lasseter provide the most input into what ends up being a very interesting story. Many times these types of documentaries fall flat simply because the story isn’t very interesting. Pixar’s story is one of risk, innovation and true entrepreneurship. All of these ingredients make for a story that is captivating, especially when its kept to under two hours.
The story of Pixar is one that starts, like many others, with a problem. The artistic visions of filmmakers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were limited by the technological means of their generation. This is why a subdivision of LucasFilm, The Graphics Group, was created to address these problems. However, after hard times hit LucasFilm, Steve Jobs came along to save the day. Even after pumping nearly 10 million dollars into the company, Pixar found itself as nothing more than a high end hardware company trying to pimp out its technology to anyone who would take it. It wasn’t until a huge deal to make the first computer generated feature film, with the help of Disney, that Pixar truly began to spread its wings.
The Pixar Story isn’t very specific. It doesn’t dive into any problem long enough to confuse or sometimes engage the audience. Instead, the documentary relies solely on the idea that dreams can come true, a very Disney mindset. We listen to Steve Jobs and John Lasseter explain how close they came to losing everything and how hard it is to maintain the empire. However, these problems are never drastic enough to bring real concern to the audience. Instead we are left with a dream-like image of what hard work and determination can accomplish. It may seem like mostly a fluff piece, but The Pixar Story is the type of documentary that would make anyone rethink whether or not their ideal job is possible.