Though the Oscars started to recognize Animated Movies in 2001 for the first time, (Shrek) the genre is rarely in serious contention for any of the “Top Ten Movie” lists. This decade brought such revolutionary changes in animated movies that the genre is no longer synonymous with “children’s movies.” Movies like Shrek, The Incredibles, Ice Age, and WALL-E brought willing adults, sans children, into audiences rather than the reluctant baby-sitting clock-watchers of old. In addition to the superior screenplays, technical improvements in 3D, sound and animation have radically improved the genre. Still, the special talent of screenwriters to write material that contains adult humor that children are not sophisticated enough to understand, and kid-humor that adults are too sophisticated to understand, seems the key to a broadly successful animated movie.
What decade list of animated movies would be complete without a mention of Monster’s Inc. 2001, written by, among others, Bloomington, Minnesota’s own, Pete Doctor, who also directed the flick. Monster’s lost the Oscar to Shrek in the first contest for Animated Movies. With John Goodman as the furry blue child-scaring monster Sulley, Billy Crystal as his side-kick Mike, and Steve Buscemi as Randall Boggs, the chameleon-ish, nemesis, the movie had the quality of a fuzzy, good vs evil, children’s nightmare. With the production of Monster’s Inc. Pixar proved they were here to stay.
Other notables of the decade include Ratatouille 2007, about a rat with a nose for culinary perfection; The Incredibles 2004, about a family of Superheros attempting to remain anonymous until the forces of evil force them into action; Bolt 2008, about a movie star dog who believes his adventures and crime-fighting talents are real, (remind you of anyone? To infinity and beyond…), and then is called upon to use them in the end. The Ice Age series, 2002, 2006, 2009, about a group of incompatible prehistoric critters banding together to survive, was consistently well done. And finally, Up 2009, about an old man, skipping the retirement home for an adventure he’d hoped to take with his now deceased wife. Instead he ends up taking the trip, spontaneously as balloons take him, with his house, up and away, along with an eight year old stowaway boy trying to earn his Assisting the Elderly badge.
Notwithstanding the excellence of the above mentioned movies (and, not including the third and final installment in the series since it will be a 2010 Best), the best animated movie(s) of the decade are the Pixar Toy Story series. With simple plot lines and a creative array of characters who snap back to life when out of sight, the relationship between child and toy, and toy and toys, give the movies a special poignancy that make the movies an extra-special must see.