Let’s face it, movie trailers hurt movies more than they help. They do their job really well, they get us excited for an upcoming movie and convince us where to spend our money. However, trailers will inevitably use the best action moments, the funniest lines, the most jaw dropping special effects shots, and this can ruin the movie-going experience. Often, the trailers reveal so many key plot points that watching the film is liking watching the trailer with two hours of deleted scenes.
There are many bad or mediocre movies that suffer from this, but even most good movies fall victim to excessive trailers. Focusing on Pixar, the makers of Toy Story and the company that ushered in the CGI movie single handed. Their movie last year was Up. It’s a fantastic movie and proof that animation can be an emotional window into life and love.
Due to the usual heavy-handed way Disney markets any of their films I already felt I knew everything about the movie. I knew that the main character’s wife was dead, I had seen the entire dramatic sequence where his house flew away. I had scene nearly every scene with the talking dogs. I still enjoyed the film greatly, but it felt like I was watching the film a second time instead of that magical feeling when you experience a truly great film for the first time.
When the film started, however, there was an animated short called Partly Cloudy. It was a delightful story about clouds and storks delivering babies. It was unexpected, it was funny, and it was heartwarming. It was a great way to start a movie and for a moment made me forget all of the plot points of the main movie ruined by over-advertising. When discussing the movie with family and friends, I would always ask what they thought about the opening short, and everyone seems to remember that short with as much fondness as the main feature.
The animated short is a tradition that Pixar is thankfully bringing back to cinemas. Early on in the days of the Disney company, when Walt Disney himself was at the head, most of their films included an animated short. Usually this featured a classic character like Mickey Mouse or the greatest star of the animated short, Donald Duck. Sadly, these became too costly to produce and had to be dropped in the 1960’s.
Recently however, Pixar has re-introduced America to the animated short. If you check out the Pixar Shorts dvd, the leaders of the company explain in great detail how they come about and why they include them. In short, the answer is that they are honoring the legacy of both Walt Disney, and the legacy of their company, who started producing animated shorts years before Toy Story was released.
These shorts are often the highlight of my summer movie experience. They are clever, creative, and will either make you laugh out loud or tug at your heartstrings. I find their greatest strength is that I have no idea going into a Pixar film what the short will be. It makes me excited to go to the movies again. Especially at a time when I feel that home theater systems have evolved so much that a good system feels like the superior experience to most crowded theaters.
Movie studios are desperate to get people to the theater. Which is why they have latched onto things like 3D. I believe what they forget is that cashing in on fads isn’t what is important, its created a movie experience that feels fresh and exciting. While the animated short is only suited for an animated film, it is one of the many reasons why each and every year Pixar are the kings of summer to me.