20 Pixar Movies With Super-Valuable Life Lessons

From the moment that Toy Story first hit our screens back in 1995, Pixar has established itself as Hollywood’s ultimate family entertainment studio. But there’s more to its array of Oscar-winning box office hits than lovable characters and stunning CGI animation. Each of its films comes equipped with an abundance of life lessons that can be super valuable for audiences young and old alike. Here’s a look at 20.

20. The Incredibles

The Incredibles centers on the Parrs, a superhero family living in an alternate 1960s, who are forced to keep their real identities secret from the rest of their suburban neighbors. But the extraordinary clan struggle with acting ordinary most of the time. The 2004 movie therefore suggests that by hiding our special talents, we are also hiding a major aspect of our personality. We can only truly be ourselves when we show our skills off loud and proud.

19. The Incredibles 2

Released 14 years later, The Incredibles 2 also contained its fair share of life lessons. This time around, the Parrs had to overcome a new villain determined to turn the world against anyone with superhero powers. And the evil Screenslaver attempts to do so via very modern methods. As a result, we learn that it’s not healthy to be addicted to our mobiles, tablets and any new technology in general. Instead we should just enjoy living entirely in the moment.

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18. The Good Dinosaur

The Parrs may be able to save the world with their crime-fighting skills. But 2015’s The Good Dinosaur suggested that friendship is just as valuable a superpower. The charming animation focuses on the unlikely connection between a young caveboy named Spot and a dinosaur named Arlo. Despite their obvious differences, the pair work together as they attempt to navigate the unforgiving landscapes of an alternate Earth.

17. Finding Nemo

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Finding Nemo tells the story of Marlin, a clownfish whose overprotectiveness inadvertently leads to disaster. Marlin means well but his smothering behavior forces son Nemo to flee and as a result get abducted by a scuba diver. As the panicked pop and his forgetful blue tang companion Dory search for his offspring, he begins to realize that he should have left Nemo to his devices more often. By watching him too closely, he actually put him in more danger.

16. Finding Dory

Thirteen years later, we revisited Nemo, Marlin and Dory in the vast aquatic underworld, only this time the focus was on the last-named. The regal blue tang was famously born with short-term memory loss and spends most of the sequel attempting to find the family, whose whereabouts she can’t recall. With both Nemo and Marlin fully understanding her condition, Finding Dory teaches us that our differences should be respected.

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15. Inside Out

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One of Pixar’s most intelligent and complex films, Inside Out deals with the emotional well-being of a youngster attempting to cope with moving to a new town. Five different characters (Joy, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Fear) who live in the mind of the young girl help to personify exactly what she’s feeling. They also make it clear that each person has a wide range of emotions and that we shouldn’t be afraid of experiencing them.

14. Up

Renowned for its heartbreaking opening montage, Up tells the story of a recently widowed old man named Carl. Having spent every day since losing the love of his life thinking about the adventures that they planned but never actually experienced, Carl finally heads out to South America on his own. A young boy scout may throw a bit of a spanner in the works by gatecrashing this solo quest. But Up still extols the virtues of chasing your dreams no matter your age.

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13. Coco

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But Coco also tells viewers that you shouldn’t forget your principles while chasing those dreams. In the 2017 release, Miguel, a 12-year-old inadvertently sent to the Land of the Dead, discovers that his father Ernesto abandoned him to pursue his own ambitions of becoming a musician. “One cannot deny what was meant to be,” claims Ernesto. But the film makes it clear that his decision to sacrifice his family was selfish and immoral.

12. WALL-E

WALL-E is the story of a robot that spends his entire life picking up trash on a deserted Earth, only to fall in love with a visiting probe. But alongside the tear-jerking unlikely romance, Pixar’s 2008 release also has some pretty weighty themes. By showing us a planet completely destroyed by mass consumerism, WALL-E gives us a stark insight into what could happen if we continue to treat our environment with a lack of respect.

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11. Cars

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The Cars films are widely regarded as Pixar’s most lightweight, but they still possess their fair share of life lessons. Based in a universe where automobiles speak, the 2004 original shows how important it is to remember those who always had faith in you. Indeed, Lightning McQueen is offered the chance to bag a lucrative sponsorship deal after his performance in the Los Angeles International Speedway. But he turns it down to stay with the team who helped to put him on the map.

10. Cars 2

The Cars franchise may have entered the world of international espionage in its 2011 sequel. But it still had the time to hand out a few more life lessons, too. Having learned the value of loyalty in the original, Lightning McQueen now gets to learn the value of appreciating life. Indeed, the racing champion discovers that it’s often the simpler, more carefree moments that prove to be the more rewarding.

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9. Cars 3

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“Don’t fear failure. Be afraid of not having the chance, you have the chance!” Those are the wise words of Sally Carrera as she gives a pep talk to the Cars’ franchise hero in its third installment. Indeed, refusing to give up in the face of adversity is yet another valuable life lesson that Lightning McQueen learns as he attempts to compete with a newer and much more technologically advanced line of racing cars in the 2017 movie.

8. Brave

Be yourself. It’s one of Pixar’s simpler life lessons, but it’s one of it’s most effective. In 2012’s Brave, Princess Merida’s entire life is mapped out for her by her mother. But the flame-haired Scot has no intention of being betrothed to a prince. Instead, in an early example of Girl Power, she sets out to prove that she’s just as adventurous and capable as the man she’s been set up to marry.

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7. A Bug’s Life

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As one of the smallest members of the ant family that feature in 1998’s A Bug’s Life, protagonist Flik is constantly given short shrift by his peers. But even though his initial ideas to save his colony are met with resistance, Flik never gives up. And despite assembling a motley crew of circus performers far from the tough warriors he needed, the little hero eventually proves that size doesn’t matter and ends up saving the day.

6. Ratatouille

Named after the French dish, Ratatouille follows the fortunes of a rat called Remy and a lowly restaurant worker named Linguini, who team up to become an unlikely culinary sensation. The former might not be a human being, and the latter might have no clue in the kitchen. But together they made a dream team who proved that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

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5. Monsters Inc.

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Mike and Sully might make a living scaring young children in 2001’s Monsters Inc. But away from their line of work, the odd pairing are anything but frightening. Indeed, both characters are shown to be kindhearted, loving and loyal throughout. And the “don’t judge a book by its cover” mantra also applies to the young Boo, who initially appears to be a fearful toddler but is in fact the bravest of the bunch.

4. Monsters University

Mike and Sully soon learned that there’s no “I” in team when Pixar revisited the characters several years later. The pair can be seen focusing entirely on their own skills during the beginning of the Scare Games, and as a result almost end up being booted out in the very first round. In fact they only progress when another team is caught cheating. But when they work together, they begin to reap their rewards.

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3. Toy Story

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Of course, the first major life lesson that Pixar gave us all came with their very first feature-length film, Toy Story. The 1995 release brings an array of much-loved toys to life from the moment their owner leaves the room they are stored in. And throughout a series of adventures, the likes of Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Mr. Potato Head all prove that friendship can be an everlasting thing.

2. Toy Story 2

Four years later, Woody faces an agonizing dilemma. Should he stay at home with Andy and the rest of his gang or enjoy a new life at a museum where he will be appreciated by several generations of kids? The cowboy takes some time to realize where his heart truly lies. But this shows that making major decisions can be difficult and that often the right one can be the toughest.

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1. Toy Story 3

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In the third chapter of the Toy Story franchise, Buzz, Woody and co. are forced to deal with the fact that their longtime owner Andy is too old to be playing with them. This serves as a reminder that relationships are continually changing and that growing apart is sometimes an inevitable part of this process. However, that doesn’t mean that the time you shared together was a waste.

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