Why the quiet evening? Because Super Ninja took the Boy and the Girl to see Cars 2. His circle of Dad friends coordinated a group movie date, but Little Guy is too young for the cinema*, so yours truly elected to sit this one out. Yay Pixar, for delivering consistently good, aesthetically pleasing films.
Now, here is where you all start to hate me.
The other reason I elected to sit this one out is because I don't love Pixar feature films. I think of them as solid B+ stuff. (And I know when I say solid B+, some people interpret that to mean that I think they suck, but I really don't.) Who am I, right? Answer: nobody. I'm not a movie critic, or a cinephile, or Harry Knowles. I've just seen the movies.
But I'm sticking to my guns on the grade. Oops. I'm referencing guns and kids' movies in the same sentence. Steven Spielberg would have something to say about that, I think.
Here's my rationale for the summa cum laude rating: I find them kind of dark. Toy Story 3: abandonment, group acceptance of death. UP: Miscarriage, infertility, and death of a spouse. Wall-E: loneliness, wasteland, and outrageously chubby people. Ratatouille: infidelity, illegitimate children. The Incredibles: crushed aspirations. Finding Nemo: murdered mother, broken, overprotective father.
You might argue that kids can handle it, that we don't have to dumb down a story. That good stories have to have some sad stuff, some dangerous stuff. I agree. But do we have to get to know Nemo's mother before she eats it (or rather, is eaten)? At least earlier Disney flicks had the decency to kill off princesses' parents before we're introduced.
Some of my friends complain that Dreamworks films work too hard to offer something for parents as well as kids. Where Dreamworks is wink wink, nudge nudge, though, Pixar goes in the opposite direction and offers doom and gloom for the adults in the audience. When I dish that out, those same friends argue that Pixar movies aren't just kids movies. They happen to be films that just happen to be animated. That is a load of bull. Toys 'R Us and their shelves stocked with Pixar merch tell me so.
*I guess technically he's not too young, but I am not a jerk, and choose not to subject other people to my toddler's restlessness.