Inside Out will either “tug at the heartstrings of anyone who ever had to move away as a kid, leaving their friends and school,” or “[feel] like it was designed to impress sensitive adults,” but either way, there will be one scene when you weep like a baby. It’s a Pixar movie, and Pixar movies have a habit of making you ugly-cry in public. It’s cool, so is everyone else. In honor of Inside Out, here are seven of the saddest scenes in the studio’s history.
Toy Story — Buzz’s fall
Pixar has always treated their core audience, children, with more respect than their competitors. That’s one of the reasons why they’ve been so successful. While other animated films pandered to kids by shouting nonsense at them, like the commercial Buzz sees on TV, Toy Story used that ad as an emotional beat. It’s when Buzz realizes he’s not an original; there are thousands of others just like him. He tries to prove something to himself, that he can fly, but ends up crashing to the ground, effectively committing toy suicide. It’s a blunt truth, for both Buzz and kids watching
Toy Story 2 — “When She Loved Me”
Toy Story 2 was an infamously troubled production. Disney originally wanted to release it as a direct-to-video sequel, but they were so pleased with the storyboards that it was upgraded to a full-length feature. Director John Lasseter wasn’t proud of it, though, and the entire thing was scrapped and redeveloped in a short of amount. A lot of thought and mindfulness was put into Toy Story 2, unlike say The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, something that’s best exemplified in Jessie’s origin story. It’s almost as sad as Sarah McLachlan’s ASPCA commercial. Almost.
Monsters, Inc. — “Kitty has to go”
Most animated films use adults or at least teens to voice children. Not Monsters, Inc., which had then-5-year-old Mary Gibbs provide Boo’s giggles and, later, sadness. It’s a lovely and tender scene she shares with John Goodman’s Sulley, when he’s informed that he can’t see her again. “Kitty has to go,” he says with tears in his eyes. Boo opening the door behind Sulley never gets old, and you’re never too old to relate with the feeling of losing a fuzzy blue monster friend.
Finding Nemo — The barracuda attack
When you think about it, all of Finding Nemo is pretty damn tragic. Dory suffers from Alzheimer’s, Nemo has a disability, humans are complete monsters, and the movie begins with a barracuda murdering Marlin’s fish-wife and all their fish-children. Except Nemo. It doesn’t carry the emotional weight of another Pixar opening, but it’s effective in its grimness.
Up — The saddest scene in movie history
I know I saw Up in a theater. I’m sure of it. But I don’t actually remember going there, or buying a ticket, or stocking up on tissues beforehand. I’ve blocked out that memory because every time I think about Up, I think about the first scene and how beautifully depressing it is. The rest of the movie is a standard mismatched comedy about birds and balloons, but those five minutes, taking us through the birth of Carl and Ellie’s relationship to her death, are as good as Pixar gets.
Toy Story 3 — This is the end
There’s no reason Toy Story 3 had to exist. It was the third movie in a franchise, released 15 years after the original. But, miraculously, everything worked. The voice cast was as good as ever, the story was thrilling and nostalgic, and my god, the scene where all the toys are nearly incinerated had me literally slack-jawed the first time I saw it. I didn’t actually think they’d, y’know, melt Woody (it’s a kids movie, after all) until the toys held hands and accepted their fate. Then, for a brief moment, I wasn’t so sure. Everything works out in the end (again, kids movie), but Toy Story 3 made us all worry for talking potato heads. Hopefully, Toy Story 4 is half as good.
Cars 2 — The whole thing
Dunno about you, but Larry the Cable Guy in a sequel to a dumb movie about cars made me cry.