Sunday, August 16, 2015

All of the Times Brad Bird Has Made Me Cry

I'm a weeper. I'm a bawler. I'm a crier.

I cry... a lot. I cry at weddings. I cry at funerals. I cry when I think about how much I love my wife. I cry when I think about the 2004 Boston Red Sox (as "At Last" by Etta James plays in my head.) I once started weeping in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto apropos of pretty much nothing. I cry during movies. Oh gods above and below do I cry at movies. And no one's movies have made me cry more than Brad Bird.

Who is Brad Bird? He's a director. He's directed some live action films (Tomorrowland. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) but mostly he's directed animated movies. I have cried during every single animated movie that Brad Bird has ever made. Here are the three Brad Bird animated movie moments that made me cry the most:

The Iron Giant- "You are who you choose to be."

"The Iron Giant" is the best animated movie that you've never seen. It came out in 1999 and it tells the tale of a boy named Hogarth and a giant alien death robot, the titular Iron Giant. In the film, the Iron Giant struggles with what it's been built to do, namely to be a weapon and to kill, and the values that Hogarth tries to instill in it: to protect and to love. The theme of the film is that you are who you choose to be, and in a society that values violence ("When the only tool you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail",) you can choose another way. In the climactic scene from the film, the Giant sacrifices himself to save Hogarth, and the small town Hogarth lives in to protect it from a nuclear missile that has been fired at him, choosing to be Superman, instead of a gun.

The Incredibles- "I'm not strong enough."

In Bird's first Pixar film, "The Incredibles," superheroes have been driven underground by the government. When a new threat arises (Syndrome, a former wannabe sidekick turned archvillain), Mr. Incredible returns to action. After getting captured by Syndrome, Mr. Incredible is saved by his wife, Elastigirl, and his children, Dash and Violet. In the climactic scene of the film, Mr. Incredible begs his family to stay hidden, because even though he has super strength, Mr. Incredible acknowledges that he lacks to strength to deal with the pain of losing his family. Elastigirl tells Mr. Incredible that they are stronger together, as a husband and wife, and as a family. When the Incredibles act as a team for the first time ever, they are able to overcome Syndrome's evil robot (Bird does seem to really like classic, 50's style scifi robots.)

Ratatouille- "Discovery and defense of the new."

"Ratatouille" is a film about rats and cooking... it's also about art and artists. The movie is summed up in an emotionally powerful review of the restaurant in the film, Gusteau's, by the dreaded critic, Anton Ego. After eating food (cooked by a rat) that recalled his childhood, Ego delivers a powerful review in which he champions something different... something new.

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