A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Inside Pixar is a documentary series that introduces a different Pixar insider in each episode and explores how their work matters and how they've affected the movies and film shorts they've worked on. Though skeptical viewers may note that the series is a commercial for the superiority of the Pixar method (and presumably its product), and that the series contains many shots of the Pixar logo, its campus in California, and Pixar-created characters, the show is also thoughtful, sensitive, and makes a good case for the power of representation. A diverse group of artists are spotlighted -- with women, people of color, and people with a non-heterosexual sexual identity represented -- and each explains how they've tried to change Pixar's output for the better, and why it matters. Significant teamwork, empathy, and perseverance is demonstrated by these artists and their work. A script supervisor says that if you don't know what to do with a problem that seems too big to handle, "look at what specific tools you have that no one else does." Though Pixar's movies are aimed at kids, this documentary is not, even though it contains very little mature content, save for a few animated action series and a flirtatious look between two characters.
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What's the story?
The aptly-named INSIDE PIXAR offers viewers peeks inside the workings of the Disney-owned Emeryville, California maker of such classic kids' movies as Toy Story and Inside Out. We meet such people as writer/director Kemp Powers and script supervisor Jessica Heidt, each of whom explains how they've put their stamp on the movies they've participated in -- and why it matters.
Is it any good?
With admirable curiosity and a pleasingly diverse cast of real-life Pixar insiders explaining how and why they do what they do, this series that pokes behind the studio doors is a kick. Film fans typically only get to experience a movie in one way: passively sitting and absorbing the finished final product. But as Inside Pixar shows us, there are many cogs and gears that churn out the final product, each putting their own spin on what we see. Sometimes, the artists and executives provide powerful examples of the importance of representation. Kemp Powers, writer and co-director of Pixar's Soul, speaks of almost being moved to tears when he saw various textures of black hair rendered in a barbershop scene. Script supervisor Jessica Heidt explains how counting the numbers of female characters and their lines of dialogue and providing that data to Pixar's filmmakers immediately and painlessly improved their films' gender balance.
Other times, we're brought into the artistic process, like an episode that shows us Pixar character designer Deanna Marsigliese's inspiration for characters in Soul and The Incredibles: wire sculptures, vintage clothing, scraps of paper that Marsigliese trims from magazines. It's all fascinating background for already minted Pixar fans, and though the series does ultimately amount to an extended-length commercial for a Disney-owned studio, it also gives viewers a lot to chew on, and lends depth to films, scenes, and characters they may not have considered deeply before. It may also inspire aspiring artists to aim their intentions towards the cinematic -- after all, if the people in this series found jobs they love this much, why shouldn't everyone?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the intentions of documentary television series -- to entertain, inform, persuade, and inspire. Which category (or categories) best describes Inside Pixar? Why?
What is the role of consumerism in this series? What is the viewer supposed to take away? Is the series intended to make us like Pixar more? Watch more Pixar movies? Or something else?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love Disney Pixar
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