How is it that Pixar somehow became the gold standard for American animation when their product is so uniformly mediocre? I read the reviews for "Wall-E", bought a ticket and spent two hours being thoroughly bored. I couldn't even sit through the first fifteen minutes of "Ratatouille". The animation's competently done but it's also bland and sterile and the writing's not even that good. It's a shame that Pixar, with a budget of millions, consistently produces work which is so flavorless. Compare their movies to the classic Warner Brothers shorts, with their swagger and startling cynicism. The best American animation being produced right now is "The Venture Brothers", which has got a fraction of the budget of a Pixar film and exponentially more creativity and life.
Part of the problem is that Pixar makes children's films and in America today that translates to bland and safe. It wasn't always that way--"A Boy Named Charlie Brown" wasn't afraid to tackle issues like failure and end on a downbeat note. And there's always foreign animation, produced in foreign lands where the population is not necessarily convinced that shielding kids from the more unpleasant aspects of life is such a good idea. Somebody's posted up "Chirin no Suzu" on YouTube. Hurry up and watch it before it vanishes to see a cartoon that doesn't dumb itself down just because its target audience is children.
"Chirin no Suzu" on YouTube
Somebody's also posted up "La Maison en Petit Cubes", which is convenient since I can't figure out if its available in iTunes or not.
"La Maison en Petit Cubes" on YouTube