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Disney+ Review: Inside Pixar (Episodes 1 & 2)

November 12, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

Pixar Animation Studios is one of those places that I have always been fascinated by and have long dreamed of visiting. Not only am I a huge fan of their movies and characters, but as a studio, the place seems to be a bastion of creativity.

The new Disney Plus series Inside Pixar, which is premiering on the streaming platform tomorrow, gives us an inside look at the animation house, more specifically introducing us to some of the individual people who help make the magic happen.

I had a chance to preview the first two episodes of the series for review, and Pixar fans are in for a treat. The docuseries is made up of four collections grouped by theme, with five ten minute episodes in each, all showcasing a different person working at the studio. The first collection is titled Inspired, and focuses on the theme of inspiration.

The first episode, (Inspired: Kemp Powers, Writing Something Real), focuses on Kemp Powers, who co-wrote and co-directed the upcoming Soul with Pete Docter. Powers talks about bringing his perspective as a Black man to the film, which is Pixar’s first with an African-American protagonist. The second half of the episode explores a scene that he wrote where the film’s main character, Joe Gardner, gets his hair cut at a barbershop, with Powers touching on the importance of representation and showing a Black space onscreen. It’s a nice little taste of Soul, which premieres on Disney+ next month.

The second episode, (Inspired: Deanna Marsigliese, The Art of the Pivot), introduces us to character designer Deanna Marsigliese. She talks about drawing inspiration from walking the streets of San Francisco, and how her creative process includes doing paper collages and even wire sculptures, which helped inform the look of the guardian characters in Soul. Marsigliese also has a penchant for vintage clothing, and the episode does a good job of showcasing her amazing sense of style and how this helps inspire her character designs. Many of the outfits in her own wardrobe provided inspiration for the costumes in Incredibles II.

Marsigliese also talks about being able to draw upon her Italian heritage to work on Pixar’s upcoming film Luca, which takes plus in Italy. As an added bonus, the episode gives us our first glimpse at the character design of the film’s lead character, a cute little sea monster. Between Marsigliese’s work on Luca, and Powers being brought on to help craft Soul, one of the most gratifying aspects of these two episodes is seeing how Pixar is striving for cultural authenticity in their storytelling.

The next three episodes in the Inspired collection introduce us to the Canadian filmmaker behind the Pixar SparkShort Out (Inspired: Steven Hunter, For That Kid), a script supervisor striving for more gender balance in the studio’s films (Inspired: Jessica Heidt, Who Gets All the Lines?), as well as the director of the recent film Onward (Inspired: Dan Scanlon, Where Ideas Come From).

The series is credited to directors Tony Kaplan and Erica Milsom, who alternate between episodes, and I can safely say that it is off to a great start. The first two episodes that I saw are both beautifully shot and beautifully edited vignettes, that do an informative and engaging job of introducing us to the people behind these films. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the series as it rolls out.

Inside Pixar Collection 1: Inspired premieres exclusively on Disney+ on November 13th.

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