Anthony Lane’s fawning eight-page profile of Pixar in the new edition of The New Yorker (May 16) has convinced me that it is next to impossible to write anything of substance about the studio at this time. The studio’s unparalleled string of successes at the box office inevitably leads to writers attempting to figure out why they’ve been so good, and the response from within the studio is always the same tired line about how all the elements of the film are created in the service of the story. That’s a great point, of course, and deserves to be shouted from the rooftops, but it doesn’t exactly make for thought-provoking commentary. Nor does it explain Cars. Lane’s article isn’t on-line, but if you’ve read anything about Pixar in the past few years, then you’ve probably read this piece, too.
Well, actually, Lane does have one original revelation: he harbors a fetish for the, umm, elasticity, of the The Incredibles’ Helen Parr, aka Elastigirl:
Helen, with bendy limbs adaptable for both vacuuming and fistfights, is a living joke about society’s expectation that women should have it all, or do it all, and never take a break. There is, of course, another skill that she could master with her natural sinuosity, but that is never mentioned. Back in 2004, some of us in the movie theatre wanted to shout, “Bob, she’s wearing a black mask and thigh-highs. What are you waiting for, man?” For the sake of the kids, though, we kept quiet. Bedrooms, in Pixar, are places where you chat to monsters, or horse around with your toys: not perspiring rumpus rooms, where Mr. and Mrs. Incredible play adults-only Twister.
Such is the state of commentary about Pixar today.