Pixar’s new film “Elemental” is in theaters today. It’s the latest feature from a studio that, in partnership with Disney, has produced some of the most successful and popular animated films of all time. While they are often marketed to children, the beautiful artwork and stories thrill and enchant viewers of all ages.
But while its trophy case is very large and very full, Pixar does not have a perfect batting average. Below are the top and bottom five films according to Rotten Tomatoes for families who want to turn on a childhood favorite or a guilty pleasure.
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It’s probably not surprising that “Toy Story” holds the crown. It wasn’t just Pixar’s first but it was the world’s first completely CGI feature-length film. The wholesome story that introduced Woody and Buzz Lightyear was also the first animated film to be nominated for the Best Screenplay Oscar. “Toy Story” has 100% on the Tomatometer (critics’ score), 92% on the audience score and has made its production budget more than 10 times over.
It’s hard to make a sequel that meets the mark of the first, especially when the first is a huge achievement. But “Toy Story 2” met that standard. In it, the toys fear their owner Andy is getting older and losing interest in them, but they learn not to worry about the future and enjoy life right now. It’s another uplifting chapter in the Woody-Buzz story, scoring 100% on the Tomatometer, 87% with audiences and earned almost $500 million (when adjusted for inflation).
Pixar won its first Oscar for “Best Animated Feature Film” with “Finding Nemo.” Long before the spectacle of “Avatar: The Way of Water,” this was the beautiful ocean film that represented major technological strides. It also has a heartwarming story and memorable lines like “Just keep swimming.” The film has a 99% on the Tomatometer, 86% on the audience score and succeeded “The Lion King” as the highest grossing animated film of all time.
“Inside Out” is literally one of Pixar’s most emotional films. It’s a complex look into the mind of a girl going through serious life changes as both she and the anthropomorphized feelings inside her learn that it’s okay to be upset and how important it is to acknowledge those feelings. Psychologists lent a hand in ensuring the mental health messaging was accurate. The deep meaning and vibrant animation rocked many audience members to their core. It also earned “Inside Out” critical acclaim with a 98% on the Tomatometer, 89% audience score and more than $800 million.
About a decade after the first sequel, the “Toy Story” franchise made a triumphant return with “Toy Story 3.” It builds off the story of “Toy Story 2” as the toys learn to accept that their owner is all grown up and it’s time to let him go. Also, since years have passed and technology has grown, the look of the film is much sharper than its previous chapters. “Toy Story 3” has a 98% on the Tomatometer, 90% audience score and earned more than $1 billion.
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The only Pixar movie that’s considered “Rotten” is “Cars 2.” In it, the franchise’s star character, Lightning McQueen, partially takes a back seat as his sidekick Mater, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, is accidentally dragged into a spy mission to save the world. While scoring 40% on the Tomatometer and a 49% audience score, it earned more than $500 million at the box office. Most of the harsher critics directed their problems at the story, with one saying “Not much engine-power here.”
While it’s not considered a failure by Rotten Tomatoes’ standards, “Cars 3” is Pixar’s second lowest on the pole with 68% on the Tomatometer and a 69% audience score. It revolves around Lightning McQueen figuring out his place in life as the racing scene changes around him and a young up-and-comer looks to replace him. A major criticism is that the story is very derivative and does little to reinvent the wheel. It also had a mediocrity box office, generating about $384 million worldwide against a $175 million budget.
While millions of people love Buzz Lightyear, the same cannot be said for his spin-off “Lightyears.” It was Pixar’s last film and told the backstory of the legendary space ranger. It earned a respectable 74% on the Tomatometer and an 84% audience score. However, it was ultimately a financial failure earning $226 million worldwide off a $200 million budget, which doesn’t account for massive marketing and other expenditures.
Rounding out the set, the first “Cars” film is also among Pixar’s lower five. It’s the first Pixar film to not be nominated for the “Best Animated Feature” Oscar since the award was created. However, it was received much better than its successors as the story that introduced Mater and Lightning McQueen and carried a message of slowing down and enjoying life. It scored a 75% on the Tomatometer and an 80% audience score, and earned more than $400 million at the box office.
One of Pixar’s lesser known movies is “The Good Dinosaurs.” It centers on a young dinosaur and his pet human set against a very Western-style story. The film was considered Pixar’s first box office bomb with about $332 million in ticket sales against a budget of about $200 million. It has a 75% on the Tomatometer and a 64% audience score.
All of Pixar’s films are available to watch on Disney+.
This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Pixar’s best, worst movies from Rotten Tomatoes