The Last Great Cartoons

On Monday my wife and I went with a friend to see Toy Story 3. It was a great movie, just as good as the other two (it's impossible to pick a favorite, as they're all great, which says a lot as usually sequels suck), and I will admit, I got a little teary-eyed at the end. See, the first Toy Story came out when I was in the 8th grade. Toy Story 2 came out right before I graduated high school. In a sense, I grew up with those characters ... though that doesn't necessarily excuse the tearing up. Hell, I teared up at the end of The Iron Giant. I even teared up at at first ten minutes of the newest Star Trek. I mean, if you didn't find the scene where George Kirk listens to his baby being born seconds before he dies, then you're a robot (and no, I didn't ruin anything in case you haven't seen the movie yet; it all happens in the first couple minutes).

But anyway, seeing the movie made me think about the movies I saw when I was a kid, namely the cartoons, and how back in the day Disney used to make some really great movies. Classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King come to mind, mostly because they came out when I was a kid. Jeez, I'll even include the Duck Tales movie and The Rescuers Down Under, and pretty much anything that Disney made before, oh, 2000 or so. From there it always seemed like the Disney movies went downhill. The quality just wasn't there anymore. No longer were those movies events to go to, but just movies, a way to waste an hour and a half. Movies that you saw and then forget the next week.

Or am I wrong? Obviously I'm older now, and maybe can't enjoy some of the cartoons for what they are, but it just seems like nowadays Disney and other movie houses making cartoons try to dumb down the films as much as possible. They want to please everyone, be as politically correct as they can, so nobody -- nobody -- gets offended. And in doing so, they sacrifice the chance to make great stuff like they used to. Which is odd, because I don't remember that much offensive stuff in those early Disney movies, though I do fondly remember those rumors about the subliminal messages throughout some of the cartoons.

Anyway, what made me think about all this? Because the attached trailer on Toy Story 3 is for a movie called Tangled, which is about Rapunzel, and while it might be a good movie, the trailer I saw just seemed to lack that spirit the cartoons made twenty years ago had. Plus, it's in 3-D. Of course it's in 3-D! Everything just has to be in 3-D now, doesn't it?

So ... maybe I'm not being fair. You tell me. Is it a generational thing? If I were growing up now, would I think these Disney cartoons like Home on the Range and Meet the Robinsons and Bolt would be instant classics? If I'd grown up fifty years ago, would I think less of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King?

Oh, and Toy Story 3? You better believe we saw it in 2-D.