Pixar is one of the most successful animation studios in modern cinema, superbly blending comedy and drama for both kids and adults. Just about every one of their films has that one moment where they rip your heart out and throw it on the floor, reducing you to tears. So, grab some tissues and get ready to weep.
Pixar spoilers ahead.
10: Mr. Incredible’s Lament – The Incredibles
Long before Brad Bird helmed one of the more successful Mission: Impossible films with Ghost Protocol, he directed this amazing superhero action extravaganza. Set in a world where super-powered people are common but no longer wanted, it follows Bob Parr, his wife Helen and their three kids. They are living a quiet, mundane life as Bob pines for the old days of crime fighting. During a mission to take on a menacing robot for an unknown employer, he discovers all is not as it seems and soon finds himself captured. His wife decides to get on a jet and fly over to the island Bob is being held on, and on the way finds two of her kids, Violet and Dash, have snuck on board. Missiles are fired and Bob is privy to the whole ordeal, powerless to stop it. He pleads that his family be spared. The missile hits its target and while we see that his family has survived, Mr. Incredible is left absolutely shattered, believing his family to be dead. The scene ends with Bob quietly sobbing at his loss. It’s incredibly powerful: a massive man with unbelievable strength, reduced to a whimpering mess with nothing more to live for.
9: The Spell Doesn’t Work – Brave
Arguably one of the more disjointed of Pixar’s films, Brave tells of Princess Merida, the daughter to a famous, brutal hunter. She wants nothing more than to follow suit, however, her mother wishes her to become a proper lady. So she spends her days practising in the ways of being a princess all while secretly learning archery. After a big argument with her mother, Merida runs off into the woods. She comes across a dilapidated shack, where she finds a witch and is granted one wish. As expected, she wishes for her mother to change. Unfortunately, the wish causes her mother to change physically and she’s turned into a bear. The scene that hits hard comes towards the end, when Merida believes she has broken the curse and waits for her mother to change back from her animal form. After a moment, it appears that the spell has not been broken and that her mother will remain a bear. Merida breaks down and begins crying, apologising to her mother and expressing her regret for not being the ideal daughter. A human hand reaches out to her. The spell has indeed been broken. Relief, and yet again, Pixar shows off their amazing ability to gut-punch you when you least expect it.
8: Wall-E Gets Reset – Wall-E
Not a single word is spoken in the first 30 minutes of this film, yet you’re never bored. Centuries after mankind has abandoned the planet due to the careless overuse of Earth’s resources, we meet our little hero, Wall-E. He is the last remaining cleaning robot left on the planet, tasked with collecting rubbish and crushing it into cubes. A large amount of the film has Wall-E on an outer-space adventure with his love, fellow robot EVE, and they both end up back on Earth together. And that’s when the tears threaten to roll. Wall-E has been reset and doesn’t remember a single thing. EVE desperately tries to get him to remember and is visibly crushed, just we as we are. After spending almost the entire film with just these two, watching them bond and making a truly beautiful connection, to have it end like this is simply heartbreaking. Just as she is about to leave, she says one final goodbye that causes the tiniest of sparks. Wall-E is back, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief.
7: Jessie’s Song – Toy Story 2
When Pixar released their first sequel, people were nervous; sequels don’t tend to have the best track record. Thankfully, Toy Story 2 was a phenomenal follow-up. Set some time after the first, the sequel finds the gang on a mission to save Woody from the hands of a toy store owner. Whilst in captivity, Woody finds out that he is part of a very famous old toy line from an old cowboy show, Woody’s Roundup. The show depicted Woody with a crew that included his trusty horse Bullseye, the yodelling cowgirl Jessie and Stinky Pete. After an intense disagreement, Jessie reveals to Woody the painful story of how she was abandoned by her owner, Emily (who may very well be Andy’s mother, if you believe the fan theory). And so begins the heartbreaking song, “When She Loved Me,” beautifully sung by Sarah McLachlan. The track effectively puts you in the mindset of this heartbroken toy, from being a child’s number one possession to being tossed away like a piece of junk. The entire sequence hits home hard.
6: Boo’s Return – Monsters, Inc.
In 2001 we were shown a different side to a world we mostly feared: the world of monsters. We were introduced to this world through Mike and Sulley, two of the most revered monsters in all of Monstropolis. Their job is to travel to the human world and scare children, whose screams provide energy to run the entire town. After a huge adventure involving the oh-so cute Boo, a little human girl who inadvertently made her way into Monstropolis, it comes down to Sulley to safely return her home. The feels hit when Sulley realises that Boo’s closet door, the portal connecting the monster world to the human world, will be destroyed and he will never see her again. He is allowed one final goodbye. He walks her into her room…she gleefully shows him around. What makes the scene so painful to watch is Boo’s childlike innocence, not realising the gravity of the situation, contrasted with Sulley’s heartbreak. John Goodman did a fantastic job of emoting through his voice, and of course kudos to all the animators involved in crafting the emotionally powerful scene.
More tear-inducing Pixar goodness on the next page…