Rachel Cranor
Okay, so we all know that there are good animated films and bad ones. But what makes the difference? Many people say (us included) that if it's Pixar, it's good. Even Honest Trailers said that in their Frozen one, they presented it as "From the studio that finally learned how to make Pixar movies." But what makes Pixar movies so good? And why did Frozen do so well when other princess movies released at a similar time, like Brave and Tangled, not do nearly as well? Your thoughts?
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Bonnie
The biggest difference between Pixar and Disney I can think of that's recently changed is that Pixar tends to make original stories, and until really recently Disney almost never did those (Frozen and Big Hero Six are technically adaptions, but they're the kind that change pretty much everything). I think originality is a big part of it, and the general bad to lukewarm reception of Pixar's recent three movies kind of lends to the idea (lack of originality is, total justifiably, an insult thrown at them often). 

Really, though, I think what makes an animated movie good is the same as what makes any movie good; good writing, good visuals, good characters. 

As for Frozen, I think it's a mix of three things;

1. This one I've heard from other people; they tried to make the marketing campaign downplay the thing so that the people who went to it ended up having their expectations surpassed, therefore giving more glowing recommendations.

2. It gets a lot of hype for being the "first" to do things (that were already done years before). 

3. It got to stay in theaters longer.
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Pixar Post - T.J.
This is a tough and deep question for sure. As I thought about it more though, I think it comes down to the story and characters. It's not a glitzy, overdone story that sells Pixar's movies - it's the stripped down conversations and relationships between the characters that people can connect with on an emotional level. They don't throw in musical numbers solely for entertainment value, they don't put in an exorbitant number of juvenile jokes and they don't talk down to kids' intelligence levels. Finally, they spend a ton of time creating unique characters that you care about.

Those are my thoughts at least!
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heartdisney10
I wholeheartedly agree with you T.J.
That's the magic of a well told story whether it's animated or live action.
For example, in Toy Story 3, I really wanted that fluffy strawberry scented bear to have a happy ending. Lee Unkrich held a Q&A, I asked him why was it that Lotso never redeemed himself. He answered that in life some people never change.
I felt like saying but it's animation!
After I processed his answer, I realized that that is what is great about Pixar, they take real life situations, experiences & life lessons and turn them into great storytelling.
As Lasseter says, "No amount of great animation will save a bad story."
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SamanthaKannan

Let's see Michael's commend on what makes for a great animated filmMichael FukushimaMichael Fukushima is the Executive Producer of our English Animation Studio, headquartered in Montreal. He’s been with the NFB for 20 years, serving the first 16 as a producer, and then taking over the studio from David Verrall, when he retired in 2013.

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Pixarsuperfan8695
Totally agreed with T.J. Although this is pretty much basically reiterating what others have said, I’d say the key to an animated film, or generally to any film, is a good story that the audience can connect to and lovable characters. It’s the realness of the characters’ struggles throughout the story that really gives the audience a reason to root for and care about them.
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Andrea56
All the best stories have characters and situations that make you care about them. Sure, there are lighter and softer films that are great popcorn flicks, but I think the real memorable ones can stand the test of time, with both its art and its story. 

Now, I remember being obsessed with Bambi as a young child. I was in love with the artistry, the painted forests and waterfalls, the details of the bark and raindrops. The story itself was...I guess nonexistent? It was about a young deer living his life, with all the ups and downs that go with it. The characters or story don't really stand the test of time. The art and atmosphere do, though.

Toy Story was the opposite in how it attracted me - over the years, it's obvious that the animation has not aged well. But the dialogue remains sharp and wonderfully crisp, and the message is delivered in a clever and meaningful way.

I think now we're in an age where creators know that animation is a powerful medium and there's a good balance now of creating a film that is both appealing in both appearance and in its message. Your mileage may vary on its success, however - sometimes some works are better received despite all the heart and hard work put into it, whilst others that were kind of overlooked really hit the home run. 

Pixar has been very good at balancing these elements; not only that, but their stories tend to be creatively original. Like toys coming to life, or an old man creating a floating house to visit South America... They also don't tend to push the same message with each film like Disney tends to do. I think that's another reason why Pixar's films tend to stand the test of time pretty well.
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