When I say that I love Pixar, I'm not just whistling Dixie. This isn't the way you say you love your T-shirt or your new shampoo brand or your baby...no, I mean the special kind of love shared between a man and his cartoons. A meaningful love. Not quite a forbidden love, but you get the idea. So you may not be too surprised to hear that I fell head over heels in love with this fantastic documentary about the company as well.
Leslie Iwerks is the granddaughter of Ub Iwerks, one of the original animators at Disney and the subject of her previous documentary "The Hand Behind the Mouse". She was not old enough to remember the man, but growing up around framed animation cels she one day realized her destiny: To tell the tales of the brave men and women who brought these cartoons to life.
I'm sure Leslie wouldn't phrase it anywhere near that melodramatically and yet it rings true. Pixar was no overnight success. It was a risky, expensive gamble that not a lot of people had faith in originally. Chalk it up to the vision, creativity, and loyalty of John Lasseter and eventually to Steve Jobs who risked his fortune on a long-shot.
Lasseter originally worked for Disney as an animator, who saw no future in the 3d computer animation he was so interested in. They let him go...I'm sure to their eternal DOH! After years of hard work and 'skin of their teeth' deadlines, Pixar became the giant they are today.
While the film details the story of Pixar and how they came to be, the real story here, and why The Pixar Story is so much more than just another documentary, is about creativity thriving in a different type of business model. Pixar continually fought against outside influences trying to change it's way of doing things to a more conventional model, it stood by it's creators and staff, and proved to the world that creativity doesn't thrive under regular office rules.
As the movie follows John Lasseter and co struggling against outdated ideas and prejudices against computer animation, you can't help but feel inspired. This guy knew what he wanted to do, worked his ass off for it, didn't step on a bunch of people on the way, and ended up with one of the most amazing companies to work for in the world. As I left the theater I felt invigorated and refreshed. I had a confidence in myself and my own abilities I hadn't felt in years. The Pixar Story isn't just an interesting story about hard work, will power and eventual triumph...it's a time release happy pill that gets you back on track with whatever you really want to do with your life. This belongs right up on my DVD shelf next to my Pixar films. It's that good.
This begs the question: How do they keep it fresh? How does Pixar plan on keeping it new? Well, I have this really snappy script about four film critics and a cranky robot that I think would just go gangbusters with the Pixar style....
If you're interested in catching The Pixar Story in your town, it should be playing at Landmark Cinemas in the following cities and dates:
October 23-25: Chicago (Century 35), Dallas (Magnolia), Detroit (Maple Art)
October 30-November 1: Washington DC (E Street 35), New Orleans (Canal Place), Denver (Chez Artiste), Seattle (Metro 35)
November 6-8 San Diego (La Jolla Village 35), Boston (Kendall Square 35), Atlanta (Midtown), Milwaukee (Downer), Indianapolis (Keystone), Minneapolis (Lagoon)
November 13-15: San Francisco (lumiere 35)