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Every Pixar Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best

How every release from the renowned animation studio, including Inside Out 2, stacks up.

The origins of what we now know as Pixar Animation Studio date all the way back to 1979 when it was the Computer Division of Lucasfilm, but it wasn't until the release of a little animated film called Toy Story in 1995 that it was on its way to becoming a household name. The studio has become synonymous with computer animation, audience tears, and giving life to the most unlikely objects in the nearly 30 years it's been churning out features. With the recent release of its latest film, Inside Out 2, we're looking at how all the Pixar movies stack up against each other. To do this, we took the cumulative scores for each on the review aggregating site, Rotten Tomatoes. So read on to find out how the critics rank every Pixar movie, from worst to best.

RELATED: Every Disney Animated Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best.

All the Pixar Movies Ranked From Worst to Best by Critics

Cars 2 (2011)

Still from Cars 2
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 39 percent

The first sequel to the 2006 movie Cars has the dubious honor of being the lowest-rated Pixar film on Rotten Tomatoes.

"When you consider the sensational Toy Story sequels, or the manifest inferiority of Cars to Finding Nemo or The Incredibles, it's a mystery as to why this one has been singled out by Pixar's presiding genius John Lasseter for a second film, or why such a dull idea was chosen for it," Peter Bradshaw wrote for The Guardian. "A cynic might wonder if this film simply generates lots of different car characters for toys and branded merchandise."

Cars 3 (2017)

Still from Cars 3
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 69 percent

Despite its lackluster reviews, Cars 2 fared well enough at the box office to make the case for a third movie. And Cars 3 did help the franchise bounce back—while it's the second lowest-rated, its score marks a significant jump.

Still, The Atlantic critic Christopher Orr called the movie "a thoroughly unnecessary installment in a Pixar franchise that has been running on fumes ever since its debut."

Elemental (2023)

Still from Elemental
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 73 percent

Pixar took its reputation for anthropomorphizing things to an incredible degree with Elemental, which is set in a city where the very elements that make up the physical world have thoughts, feelings, and dreams.

The execution of the concept of the film didn't work for everyone, however. For The New Yorker, Jessica Winter wrote, "Especially coming from a studio that used to be so terrifyingly fastidious about its world-building, the internal logic of Element City is wobbly at best."

Lightyear (2022)

Still from Lightyear
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 74 percent

Pixar's attempt to spinoff the Toy Story series yielded a range of reactions. Granted, the premise is a little hard to grasp: Chris Evans voices a human Buzz Lightyear, who is not a real person but a fictional character in a movie that Buzz Lightyear the toy is based on. Many critics, including Slate's Dana Stevens, saw Lightyear as perfectly serviceable but unnecessary.

"Family audiences with no grand expectations that their Saturday afternoon matinee viewing constitute great art will have a fine time watching Buzz and his pals zip from infinity to beyond and back," she wrote. "But there's a rueful irony to the fact that it's this supposedly human inspiration for the beloved toy who feels more like a plastic action figure."

Cars (2006)

Still from Cars
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Rotten Tomatoes score: 75 percent

You'll find some of Pixar's other earlier efforts much higher up on this list. The original Cars, while the best of the three according to critics, still read to many as being less complex and more suitable for very young kids than masterpieces such as Toy Story and The Incredibles.

"The movie is great to look at and a lot of fun, but somehow lacks the extra push of the other Pixar films," is how Roger Ebert put it.

RELATED: The Saddest Movies You Can Stream on Netflix.

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

Still from The Good Dinosaur
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 75 percent

Pixar's tale about the friendship between a boy and a dinosaur benefits from some strikingly realistic landscapes, but critics weren't wowed by its story.

"But even bad Pixar is pretty good," wrote BuzzFeed critic Alison Willmore, "and if The Good Dinosaur falls low in the rankings of the company's now 16 titles … it is still leagues finer than the flurry of frenetic colors and screwball pacing of the standard children's animated movie."

Brave (2012)

Still from Brave
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79 percent

The first Pixar movie with a female lead character, Brave is about Merida, a Scottish princess who runs away instead of being betrothed and ends up in conflict with her mother, who quite literally turns into a bear after eating an enchanted cake. Unfortunately, some reviewers found that conflict lacking.

"Parent/child disputes of this sort are one of the bedrocks on which modern animated features are built, but the mother-daughter back and forth here gets increasingly familiar and tedious, especially for a Pixar film," Kenneth Turan wrote for The Los Angeles Times.

Monsters University (2013)

Still from Monsters University
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80 percent

While not as highly praised as the original film, the prequel Monsters University mostly succeeds on the back of nostalgia.

"Its predecessor, 2001's Monsters, Inc., was charming enough that revisiting its world is like happening upon the favorite stuffed animals of a now-grown child," USA Today critic Claudia Puig said in her review. "The memories are sweet, and it's fun to see the characters again."

Onward (2020)

Still from Onward
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88 percent

Some Pixar movies infamously deal with some pretty adult topics, and maybe none more than 2020's Onward, about two brother elves trying to bring their dead father back to life. While its impact was stunted by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Onward got a lot of love from critics, including The Guardian's Wendy Ide, who wrote that "the fractious bond between the brothers and their aching anger at the loss of a parent are evoked with exquisite sorrow and clarity."

Luca (2021)

Still from Luca
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91 percent

Another Pixar film released during lockdown, this one straight to streaming on Disney+, Luca is a coming-of-age story set in Italy about a sea monster who can take human form on land and falls in love with humanity and friendship.

"The story's bright swirl of Pixar pixie dust, jangle soundtrack, and gentle lessons on accepting otherness and learning to move past fear feel like a temporary passport: a sweetly soulful all-ages dip in la dolce vita," Entertainment Weekly critic Leah Greenblatt wrote of the film.

A Bug's Life (1998)

Still from A Bug's Life
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92 percent

The animation studio's second-ever feature A Bug's Life is loosely based on the fable The Ant and the Grasshopper but with a bit of an (age-appropriate) organized crime twist and, in the eyes of some critics, some socialist leanings.

"A Bug's Life is one of the great movies—a triumph of storytelling and character development, and a whole new ballgame for computer animation," SFGATE's Peter Stack wrote at the time. "Pixar Animation Studios has raised the genre to an astonishing new level."

RELATED: The 25 Best Animated Movies Ever Made.

Inside Out 2 (2024)

Still from Inside Out 2
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92 percent

The newly released Inside Out 2 falls squarely in the middle of the pack, picking up not long after the original leaves off in the life of now young teen girl Riley and her developing and roiling emotions.

"It's adorable," wrote Seattle Times reviewer Moira Macdonald. "Sure, much of it follows ground already trodden in the first film, but it finds that same sweet balance of tears and laughter.

Incredibles 2 (2018)

Still from Incredibles 2
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93 percent

It took 14 years for fans of The Incredibles to get the sequel they craved. This one focuses more on the family life of the titular heroes, as well as changing public opinion about supes in general.

"Actual ideas about balancing work and life in an action-packed kid flick—Marvel, take note," NPR's Bob Mondello said in his review. "I exaggerate not a bit when I say that parents will feel just as empowered while watching Incredibles 2 as any child."

Finding Dory (2016)

Still from Finding Dory
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94 percent

Another sequel, Finding Dory centers Ellen DeGeneres' forgetful blue tang fish from Finding Nemo. For Salon, Matthew Rozsa wrote that the film and Dory's struggle have some real-life resonance.

"Indeed, there aren't many films that depict the struggles of having a learning disability quite as effectively as Finding Dory. Part of the film's advantage is that, instead of focusing on a specific real-life syndrome, it uses Dory's generic short-term memory loss as a stand-in for any disability that comes to mind," he said. "Whether you suffer from dyslexia or OCD or ADD, there is probably some aspect of Dory's perspective with which you can identify."

Wall-E (2008)

Still from Wall-E
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95 percent

Pixar takes us to one probable future in the almost dialogue-free Wall-E, a tearjerker of a story about a robot left behind to clean up on Earth after humanity destroyed it and got the heck out of Dodge.

"It's Pixar's most daring experiment to date, but it still fits neatly into the studio's pantheon: Made with as much focus on heart as on visual quality, it's a sheer joy," The A.V. Club's Tasha Robinson wrote.

Turning Red (2022)

Still from Turning Red
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95 percent

Pixar loves a metaphor, and in Turning Red, it employs one of its most evocative yet: The emotional turmoil of puberty turns human protagonist Mei Lee into a giant red panda. The honest coming-of-age story and exploration of a complicated mother/daughter relationship was a hit with critics and audiences alike.

"For decades, Disney sold little girls polished princess fantasies to sell toys," Kristy Puchko wrote for Mashable. "But in that, they also sold an idea of girlhood that was woefully limiting. Here, the fantasy has an element of body horror but is treated with a jocular touch that makes Turning Red an absolute blast."

Soul (2020)

Still from Soul
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95 percent

Not a lot of feel-good movies start with a piano falling on the hero, but that's one of the reasons Soul stands out so much, especially among animated family films. Jamie Foxx voices a teacher and jazz musician who ends up in a coma after a freak accident right before a major opportunity, and he has to find a way to bring his soul and his body back together.

In his New York Times review, Peter Travers praised the film for its ambitious goals: "In about 100 jaunty, poignant minutes, Soul, the new Pixar Animation feature, tackles some of the questions that many of us have been losing sleep over since childhood. Why do I exist? What's the point of being alive? What comes after?"

RELATED: The 25 Best Coming-of-Age Movies Ever Made.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Still from Monsters, Inc.
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96 percent

Leave it to Pixar to humanize the monsters in your closet. In Monsters, Inc., scaring kids is just a job, kids are toxic, and employees Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) are left in charge of a little human girl they name Boo when she breaches containment.

"Monsters, Inc. doesn't quite live up to Toy Story 2, surely the high watermark in this fast-developing field—but it's still a hugely creative, fast-paced romp that will keep both children and their parents thoroughly entertained," BBC's Neil Smith said in his review.

Ratatouille (2007)

Still from Ratatouille
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96 percent

A Parisian rat voiced by Patton Oswalt dreams of becoming a chef in Ratatouille, leading him to team up with a lowly kitchen worker at a renowned restaurant.

In his review, Roger Ebert called the surprisingly moving foodie adventure "clearly one of the best of the year's films."

The Incredibles (2004)

Still from The Incredibles
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97 percent

Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe took over the industry, Pixar brought us The Incredibles, a superhero family who are brought out of their normal lives by a new threat.

"The Incredibles offers a wonderful story brimming with social satire and clever metaphors, all coming back to the importance of family," CNN's Paul Clinton wrote of the film back in 2004.

Coco (2017)

Still from Coco
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97 percent

In Coco, a young boy journeys into The Land of the Dead and discovers some tragic and well-kept family secrets. More musical than most Pixar films, this 2017 movie also has a three-hanky ending.

"It's delightful stuff, made no less delightful by the darkness, most of which is handled so frankly that one simply grows accustomed to it," Consequence critic Allison Shoemaker wrote. "People die all the time, sometimes peacefully and sometimes not. Trauma lingers, and it can be passed down from generation to generation. That's just life, and life is also beautiful."

RELATED: 24 Feel-Good Movies to Lift Your Spirits.

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Still from Toy Story 4
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97 percent

The most recent Toy Story movie is the lowest-rated, but given the high bar of the series, that's not really a criticism. This one focuses on what may lie ahead for Andy's toys now that he's all grown up and off to college.

"The new film isn't flawless, but it's hugely enjoyable and speaks, with bewitching buoyancy, to nothing less than the purpose of living and the mystery of life," Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern said.

Up (2009)

Still from Up
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98 percent

An overly helpful Wilderness Explorer and an elderly widower make an unlikely pair in Up, a movie about grief and embracing life for as long as you can.

"The movie is surely less ambitious than Wall-E, showing a mastery of animation and storytelling rather than a desire to push it all forward," Katey Rich wrote in her CinemaBlend review. "But for a story well-told, an adventure with genuine thrills, and a heartbreakingly believable love story, there's not much better than Up."

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Still from Toy Story 3
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98 percent

The gold standard in movies about toys grappling with their own mortality, Toy Story 3 hit especially hard with audiences who grew up with the franchise.

"On one level the story of a group of toys trying to live up to their responsibilities and deal with change, on another a treatise on the end of childhood and the importance of love and meaning in life, Toy Story 3 continues to do the impossible by making us believe that toys are people too, idiosyncratic individuals with lives and minds of their own," Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times wrote.

Inside Out (2015)

Still from Inside Out
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98 percent

Just missing the top three is the original Inside Out, which introduces us to Riley and all the feelings inside her head and presents an incredibly empathetic view how hard it is to be a child.

"It seems cliché to praise an animated movie by saying it works for both kids and adults; in fact, Inside Out may actually be better for grown-ups," Paste'Tim Grierson said in his review. "It will definitely remind them of the fragility of childhood, but it may also remind them about the simple need to embrace all of life's different emotions—both for themselves and for their kids. And, most assuredly, it will make them cry."

Finding Nemo (2023)

Still from Finding Nemo
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 99 percent

The ocean is only as big as a father's love in Finding Nemo, about a little clown fish who goes missing and his dad's quest to find him.

"From the neon depths of Marlin's coral reef to the diaphanous pink cushions of a school of jellyfish, Finding Nemo is an enchanting, often elegant exploration of animated color, depth and texture," Ann Hornaday wrote in her Washington Post review. "Director Andrew Stanton and his team have achieved yet one more feat in executing the finest details, from the twine of a fishing net to a nearly invisible speck of flotsam."

Toy Story (1995)

Still from Toy Story
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100 percent

Pixar had a winner right out of the gate with the original Toy Story, the studio's first feature big-screen effort. While it's striking to see the leaps and bounds made in computer animation since 1995, it's still a classic and a milestone in the format.

"With 'instant classic' written all over it, Toy Story, the first full-length feature entirely composed of computer-generated animation, is a visually astounding, wildly inventive winner," Michael Rechtshaffen assessed for The Hollywood Reporter back in 1995.

RELATED: 20 Cult Classic Movies With the Most Passionate Fans.

Toy Story 2 (1999)

Still from Toy Story 2
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100 percent

The best movie ever released by Pixar according to the review aggregator is the second Toy Story. The gang from Andy's room meet some new friends after Woody is stolen by a toy collector and ends up in a toy museum.

"I forgot something about toys a long time ago, and Toy Story 2 reminded me. It involves the love, pity and guilt that a child feels for a favorite toy. A doll or an action figure (or a Pokemon) is yours in the same way a pet is. It depends on you. It misses you. It can't do anything by itself. It needs you and is troubled when you're not there," Roger Ebert's review reads. "Toy Story 2 knows this, and for smaller viewers that knowledge may be the most important thing about the film—more important than the story or the skill of the animation."

Sage Young
Sage Young is the Deputy Entertainment Editor at Best Life, expanding and honing our coverage in this vertical by managing a team of industry-obsessed writers. Read more
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