Pixar’s Goal Isn’t to Deliberately Make Adults Cry

BJ asked Denise Ream and Peter Sohn about, in her own words, the “running joke that Pixar movies are guaranteed to make you cry,” which Sohn assured her isn’t deliberate. “It comes naturally with the story,” he replied, explaining:

“There was never a checklist for it, but all you ever do is you’re trying to find a connection point really and at the same time, goof off and have funny ideas going on. You’re in rooms like this literally, where you’re sort of [meeting] and talking about ideas of the story, but then every so often there’ll be some little nugget that we all connect to like, ‘Wait, so what happened?’ It’s like, ‘Yeah, my mom did X or Y’ and then all of a sudden this authentic emotion comes up that you all resonate [with] and we’re just chasing that.”

“You’re just trying to chase something that feels real from this point of view, but it’s not like, ‘Ta-da! [The] formula for tears: 60% wetness!'” he added. “It’s always just a sincere search for something that feels real to each other.”

There may not be a literal formula for tears, but Pixar’s crying sorcery remains potent in its 27th feature film. Sohn may explain it by talking about emotional resonant moments we’ve all felt, but considering the volume of tears that I, a non-crier for the most part, have shed watching the studio’s films, there might just be some sort of proper magic involved.

“Elemental” is now playing in theaters.


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