Dan the Pixar Fan
This is something I've thought about for a while now and I finally figured I share here on the forum!

I've noticed a trend in recent Pixar (and Disney movies) and I wanted to get some thoughts on it. I'm sure you've noticed that just about every Disney/Pixar film over the last few years (basically starting with Up), opens with the main character(s) as little kids/babies in a touching flashback type sequence. Up, Toy Story 3, Brave, Monsters University, Tangled and Frozen all start this way.

Also, we already know that Inside Out next year will also start in a similar way, with Riley growing up from a baby to a pre-teen that will most definitely pull at some heart strings. That will be the 7th Disne or Pixar film in 6 years that follows this trend.

I guess my question is: is it too much? I feel like it might be getting just a little old IF they continue this with every movie in the near future. I almost feel like they say "how can be add some more heart and emotion to this movie? Oh, add them as kids at the beginning...that always melts the hearts of the audience!" It almost seems like it may be becoming a crutch to lean on to add more "cuteness" to the films.

Don't get me wrong, I do like all the opening scenes from the films mentioned. They pull at my heart strings too and I think they're adorable, but I'm just wondering if it may be time to try something new. Pixar opened 9 touching films in a row without having to rely on this, I think they could do it again! [smile]
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Ultimate iPad Expert
It's funny you mention that, because I was thinking something similar. When they announced the beginning sequence of Inside Out, I automatically thought back to Up, in that they seemed like very similar beginnings to pretty different films. Now that you mentioned all of the other films, I realize that as well. Like you and probably most of us, I also have enjoyed all of these openings. Firstly, there have been some Disney and Pixar films since Up that haven't had this type of opening. For instance, Cars 2 doesn't seem to have this kind of beginning. I realize why they have been doing this, though. 

If you do think about it more, Cars 2 kind of did have the same type of beginning. Even thinking back to older Disney and Pixar films you can see similar beginnings as well. Movies like The Lion King, The Incredibles, and Finding Nemo. In a way almost every movie has this beginning. They all start with a backstory. Whether this backstory is when they main character was a kid or even something that happened just before the main plot begins, lots of movies have a backstory scene.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, it's a pretty easy way to bring heart, charm, and tell the origins of the character(s). What do you guys think? 
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Dan the Pixar Fan
Oh yah, I totally get that...the whole classic backstory or prologue opening to start off a story/film. It's just that I feel like these openings are all very similar in the way that they presented/portrayed the "little kid" versions of the main characters. For example, I don't consider the prologue of The Incredibles in the same vain as my other examples from the more recent films.

And yah, I realize not all start off this way (like Cars 2) but that's why I said most...7 in 6 years is still a bit! [smile]

It's definitely not a bad thing...but like I said, if it continues over and over it may get redundant like, "surprise! The movie starts off with the first 5 minutes having the main character be super cute and little and then flash to adulthood." I just worry if it's overdone, that it may not carry the same heart someday. I remember predicting that Mike and /or Sulley would start off little long before the trailers for Monsters University. It was also easy to predict that Frozen was going to start that way too. I also predicted, from the early synopsis of Inside Out, that this would be shown with Riley as well and now that has been confirmed. At this point, it's almost safe to say we'll see a young Arlo at the beginning of of The Good Dinosaur, ha!

I'm just thinking, for example, A Bug's Life didn't need a cute young Flik showing off his inventor ambitions at the beginning or Ratatouille didn't need to start off with a young Remy showing his passion for cooking. Does that make sense at what I'm trying to say? I really do feel like this is a more recent style that, more or less, became much more prevalent in Disney/Pixar after the success of Up's opening.

Thanks so much for your awesome thoughts and can't wait to hear what others think!
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Brita129
This is such an interesting observation! It's weird because I actually hadn't noticed it, but now that you point it out, it becomes really obvious. I think that Up best showed the use of this idea.  Not only was it a creative, original, heartfelt way to start a Pixar movie, but since the main character was elderly, I think it was essential to show a kid audience that old people are actually young at one point. Old people can sometimes be scary to kids (they can talk loud and have a hard time hearing, they may be cranky or smell strange) but seeing Carl as a kid and then growing up helped kids relate and enjoy the movie. I can't imagine Up starting any other way.

However, I do agree that this beginning is becoming overused. I think it's the easiest way to get in some cuteness, show character development/personality and connect with a kid audience. Like Dan said, I also feel like it's kind of a "crutch" and I think both Pixar and Disney need to think a bit outside the box to see how they can achieve the cuteness/connection without the kid beginning. Looking at some of the movies that didn't start out with the main character as a kid, I think Pixar often made it work by having a kid as the main character, such as Boo in Monsters Inc. The kid opening style will definitely get old if it continues, especially now that I'm aware of it haha. 

Since Pixar films often have more complex and dynamic plots, most require a little back story. I like the use of flashbacks and I thought that it was creative in Up to have the newsreel showing Charles Muntz's life. There's nothing wrong with opening with the film with the main character as a kid, but I don't want to see it every time and hopefully Pixar incorporates other ways to share their story and bring in the heart and cuteness.

 
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Ultimate iPad Expert
I agree with you both. It is becoming overused, especially the little kid opening. Sometimes it truly is the only opening that makes sense in the context of the film. It is true that some of the Pixar films also have started without the character as a child or even without any sort of backstory. I believe that there wasn't a need to establish things in those films, as much as something like in Up. For instance, let's say the film started right after the Married Life scene. Much of the film wouldn't make much sense or wouldn't have as much heart to it. I also think these "child" openings have to do with the feeling of the film and the type of film it is. Cars 2 is supposed to be an action/spy film and is not necessarily meant to have the same feeling as something like Toy Story 3 or Frozen. Sure, those films have action as well, but it's not really the same kind of action, if you know what I mean. So, coincidentally there isn't a need for a "child" backstory in Cars 2. Once again, these beginnings are becoming overused, but I suppose it's not a bad thing.
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Rachel Cranor
Well, now that you mention it...

I do think it is starting to be overdone, but Up, TS3, Brave, MU, Tangled and Frozen all needed it to establish the story. Even Princess and the Frog uses it. Inside Out seems like it will be the same way. Luckily, from the leaks I have heard about Big Hero 6 say that it won't be the case for it. Will The Good Dinosaur continue the trend?
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Dan the Pixar Fan
You're right Rachel, totally forgot about the fact that Princess and the Frog did that too. Add it to the list, ha!
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Pixar Post - T.J.
PixarFanDan wrote:
I almost feel like they say "how can be add some more heart and emotion to this movie? Oh, add them as kids at the beginning...that always melts the hearts of the audience!" It almost seems like it may be becoming a crutch to lean on to add more "cuteness" to the films.

Don't get me wrong, I do like all the opening scenes from the films mentioned. They pull at my heart strings too and I think they're adorable, but I'm just wondering if it may be time to try something new.

Couldn't agree more that it's an easy way to tell the backstory and get you to buy into the characters immediately! As soon as you hear someone in the audience say, "AWWwwww", you know they're bought into the character. The loudest noises I can remember is during Monsters U because people already knew Mike as an adult and already loved his character...then when you go back and see how cute he is you feel an even deeper connection getting to buy into the character even more.

Is it too easy to write it into the story this way? Not by itself...but I couldn't agree more that it becomes too easy when it's overused. I feel the same way though that I love the openings, but repetition will ruin (has ruined) the impact of the childhood throwback for the first 5 minutes. 


PixarFanDan wrote:
Also, we already know that Inside Out next year will also start in a similar way, with Riley growing up from a baby to a pre-teen that will most definitely pull at some heart strings. That will be the 7th Disney or Pixar film in 6 years that follows this trend.

OK, I know I just got done saying that this is overused, but I'll give it a small pass on Inside Out because it's a movie about growing up specifically. I think this might be the most essential usage of the childhood intro because it sets up Riley's emotions as innocent, fun and vibrant and then her teenage years take hold of her and we watch with sadness (and understanding since we've all been through it) as these new emotions battle for position. I almost think it's necessary to have that transition...plus, since it's such a personal story from Docter that I can't wait to watch how he transcribes real life onto the screen.

Overall, a great topic - hope a few more jump in with their opinions!
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