Pixar is awesome. Toy Story. Monster’s Inc. Finding Nemo. Cars. Wall-E. Up. What a list of great films, and now there’s Inside Out to add to the list, their best movie to date. I can’t imagine how fantastic it must be to work at a place like Pixar. And yet, as awesome as they are. They’re not the best when it comes to kids movies. That would be Gkids, who have distributed such films as Ernest and Celetine, Song of the Sea, Nocturna, Secret of Kells, and A Cat in Paris. Granted, it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Pixar is a film studio that produces all of its own content; whereas, Gkids is a distributor that seeks out the best animated films world wide and packages them for release in the United States. Nevertheless, they each have substantial film catalogs that are easily discernible via key world searches at outlets such as Amazon.
These are animated movies, and the area where the gap is widest between the two is the animation itself. CGI animation is fine and getting better all the time. As Pixar points out in the introduction to their 25 Years of Animation, exhibition, everything starts out and grows from traditional media, and it’s not like computers are doing all the work for them; these are extremely talented people doing exceptional work. The animation in Inside Out, for example, looks great:
But now compare that to this, the trailer from Secret of Kells:
Both are great, but the hand-drawn animation of Kells is mesmerizing in a way that nothing from Pixar, much less Inside Out, can match.
Additionally, the Gkids films tend to be grounded in the rich mythological traditions of the diverse areas they come from. This, of course, in itself doesn’t make them better movies, but it does help to make them transportive and mystical in a way that the Pixar films, whose source material is more familiar to American audiences, cannot be.
The local library has been showing a series of Gkids films this summer. Attendance, however, has not been what was hoped for. This seems so unfortunate and sad to me and prompted this entry. I said above that Gkids is better. Really though, that’s not the point. I just think it’s a shame that there doesn’t seem to be a place for them here.