According to content marketing consultancy Honigman Media, a meme is essentially “a simple image, video or GIF with a witty tagline in the spirit of online commentary.” Creating a great meme involves making the mundane shareable and basically impressing your friends, something with a spirited subtext that will easily appeal to a good number of people. By adding a forthright message to a familiar picture, a meme can quickly gain popularity and get thrown around Instagram and Facebook like a ping-pong. What’s more, by adding a well-considered observation to an already established product, brand or modern day trend, you’ll find yourself a winner. Hitting the right note establishes a viral meme.
American computer animation film studio Pixar produced 17 jaw-dropping animations between 1995 and 2016. Films such as “Cars,” “Up,” and “Toy Story” smashed box-office records consistently, impressed critics, and have won countless awards. Because its film output is leveled at adults as well as children, we think jpegs and gifs from Pixar have become fair game for avid meme architects. Simply take a familiar picture of Nemo or Mike (Monsters, Inc.), add your own message, and the sky's the limit. You might even come up with something as awesome as we have (as it happens, A Bug’s Life 2 comes out this year).
Anyway, let’s get down to business. We’ve collected 15 of the most savage Pixar movie memes known to man. Maybe these will be just what you need to be inspired to make your own. Enjoy!
15 Midlife Angst
Bona fide Pixar from the 2004 action adventure The Incredibles -- a kooky little superhero tale about, according to studio-music.co.uk, a “family of undercover superheroes, [who] while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world.” It was a smash hit when it came out, grossing over $70 million in its first weekend of release! There’s obviously something about the story that appealed to young and old alike and made it one of the all-time greats of Disney’s animation subsidiary.
Cue: memers of the world unite! This film yielded hundreds of memes, and here’s one of them: “Man’s midlife crisis endangers his family and entire city.” It doesn’t get more accurate than an observation of the true (and ultimately disappointing) message, which makes it officially a great meme… relevant, pertinent and a funny take! After all, if middle-aged insurance salesman Bob Parr (AKA Mr. Incredible) had only stayed tinkering with his motorcar instead of using it to deadlift, no one would have been any the wiser.
14 A Girl’s Toy Story
The very first and incredibly successful project from Pixar, Toy Story is in its 22nd year of release and is scheduled for a third sequel in two years’ time. Impressive credentials, but nothing compared to the contents of the trophy cabinet. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Music: Original Song ("You've Got a Friend in Me" by Randy Newman), Best Music: Original Score, and Best Original Screenplay; it also received eight Annie awards and was nominated for two Golden Globes.
Expect nothing but a wry undertone of innuendo and adult humor from the writers of Toy Story; the film is literally packed with them, which only made meme-makers deliriously happy. We think this meme has a great sense of humour without mentioning what it is Woody and Buzz are referring to. In fact, the line is so true to the essence of the film that it could well have been taken straight from the original screenplay.
13 Floatin', Chillin’
Directed and co-written by Andrew Stanton, Finding Nemo was a blockbuster for many reasons. What’s not to love about the bond between a young disabled clownfish and his over-protective father? As such, Finding Nemo received universal acclaim for its storyline, subtext, graphics, and music. Of Nemo’s father, Marlin, (played by Albert Brooks), the Miami Herald said, “Parental anxiety may not be the kind of stuff children's films are usually made of, but this perfectly enchanting movie knows how to cater to its kiddie audience without being condescending to them.”
The voice of Crush, the green sea turtle, was played by none other than Andrew Stanton. The Pixar vice-president of creativity nailed the character who, let’s face it, was probably modeled after a typical surfer dude who lays about for most of the day between catching tubes and sharing the odd cigarette with his friends.
12 Don’t Try This At Home, Seriously
Another great Pixar animation, Monsters, Inc. is packed full of adult references. Co-written by Andrew Stanton and directed by Pete Docter, Monsters, Inc. had its theatrical release in 2001. Salon.com said it was “agreeable and often funny, and adults who take their kids to see it might be surprised to find themselves having a pretty good time.” And that’s the essence of Pixar. Everyone gets a look in.
Let’s face it: this meme addresses a big trend at the moment. Take a look at some people’s Facebook profiles (perhaps mostly girls and young women) and you may notice how many of them are making up with the help of pointless YouTube vids. In doing so, they give themselves great big slug eyebrows, heavy eye make-up (which makes them look like they’re actually dead), and a mouth big enough to swallow a whale. It just isn’t right ladies!
11 Frying Nemo
Let’s get back to Finding Nemo for a moment because we’ve found another awesome meme. This one plays on the age-old Disney fascination with making animals human, or at least giving them a recognizable personality. There are countless examples of this: Jungle Book (1967) starred the python Kaa, who had a creepy, hypnotic persona and Sven, the reindeer from Frozen, was given all the characteristics of a dog.
This meme is actually designed by animal activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Whoever came up with this one is playing on Nemo’s sweet and adorable temperament to make the unfortunate point that if we fell in love with animals the way we do with each other, would we still maltreat them? It’s a valid point and an extremely good poster if not promoting the darker side of our relationship with the animal kingdom.
10 BS Stands For Baby Sitter
Yes, we love The Incredibles, as did most of the critics who went to see the film at its release 13 years ago. Not meaning to labor the point, but the film also won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature as well as Best Sound Editing at the 77th Academy Awards. It received nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Sound Mixing. Craig Nelson and Holly Hunter gave sterling performances, and the National Review Online praised it for celebrating “marriage, courage, responsibility, and high achievement.”
This meme focuses on the personality-flawed antagonist Syndrome, Mr. Incredible’s arch enemy. Syndrome is a former superhero fanatic (Buddy) who “has no super powers of his own but uses advanced technology to give himself equivalent abilities” according to Wikipedia. Let’s face it: what’s not to love about the possibility of wearing the letters “BS” on your spandex jumpsuit?
9 God Bless ‘Murica
Brought out in 2008, animation Wall-E was directed and co-written by Andrew Stanton. An instant blockbuster, Wall-E follows, as eventfinda.co.nz put it, “a small waste-collecting robot [which] inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind” -- a profound topic for Pixar but one with which they engaged earnestly to create a masterpiece. It made $533.3 million worldwide and gained universal acclaim from critics and audiences. It also won countless awards including the 2008 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The film also topped Time Magazine’s “Best Movies of the Decade” in 2010.
This meme simply says “‘Murica 2805,” which is enough to make a point without exerting ourselves. The suggestion is that in 788 years’ time, the population of the good ol’ US of A will be in a similar state, overweight and chairbound. To be honest, we don’t think it will take that long.
8 Cars Parking
Another take on film plots -- this time, from the 2011 animation Cars, which starred Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen and Paul Newman as Doc Hudson. Another smash hit, Cars won critics over for what was essentially a film about a car being woefully detained in a small town for damaging a road, then making friends. The first weekend it was released, it made around $60 million in revenue. The Seattle Post Intelligencer called it “one of Pixar's most imaginative and thoroughly appealing movies ever.”
Imaginative it was, and it came complete with awesome characters, which was just as well because the plot line was disagreeably thin, according to most reviews. Still, that wasn’t going to stop Pixar making a two-hour long animation and hanging the haters; nor was it going to stop the meme kings and queens of the world producing such greats as this. Put an adult slant on the plot of a PG Blockbuster, and you have yourself a good ‘un.
7 Tangled And Brave
OK, we know this 2010 musical animation wasn’t done by Pixar. But it's a Disney production, and since the two are so closely linked, we thought we’d lampshade it. If nothing else, it gives you a little taste of what sorts of memes are out there for hardcore Walt Disney fans. In fact, a quick search of “Disney memes” on the internet brings up almost every possible adult scenario you can think of, including some X-rated stuff we can’t even publish. From personal insults to relationship angst and teenage crushes, there are pictures of all your favorite Disney characters being molested in the name of quick viral meme-play.
This meme from Tangled is a great little nod to all the trolls out there, like the random spammers sending you Friend Requests at 3 am. What better way to ward off professed undesirables than with a picture of a defensive Rapunzel holding a frying pan? We think the message is loud and clear.
6 Woody Pride? Ah, Come On!
Another Pixar offering packed full of adult references and Easter Eggs, Toy Story is the gift that just keeps on giving. The animators have packed so much detail into their renderings that it’s almost impossible to take stock of every little thing in the frame. People’s unending love for the film franchise is borne out by the continuing success of the films, the merchandising, and theme park rides devoted to Buzz, Woody, and Jessie.
We don’t think the name Woody came out of nowhere. OK, maybe it did... but to be honest, writers Joss Whedon and team aren’t going to divulge such a thing anytime soon. However, Unkrich, in 2009, pointed out that Woody's official last name is “Pride,” which we think says just about enough. This meme fits perfectly with the whole alternative adult universe of Toy Story, and it’s safe to say none of the writers will be wearing a circular nimbus anytime soon.
5 When I Out I Be Like…
OK, we couldn’t resist a return to the delightful Fjords of Arendelle for one more look at the naughty ruminations of Frozen. How could we forget Olaf’s reference to urinating when he talks about avoiding yellow snow? That one hits all the right notes for the grownups and is delivered spectacularly well by the raucous Josh Gadd. Incidentally, did you know the official crest of Arundelle is a crocus? The symbol of rebirth and spring and yet another example of a Pixar Easter Egg, for the most part, goes completely unnoticed.
This meme is actually making a social statement. How about that? Would you ever have thought memes could be so sardonic? It’s referring to the trend among young people to get drunk before meeting someone for a date. Personally, if we met Anna on a night out looking like this, we’d just want to take her back to her mother’s house to sober up.
We’re saying goodbye to Finding Nemo now, but don’t worry: there’ll more than likely be another sequel soon. After all, Finding Dory came out last year. Finding Nemo woos us with yet another example of how Disney can make fish relatable to humans. When it came to how to draw the eyes of fish and sharks (which usually look glassy and dark) they went for the most openly expressive members of the animal kingdom… dogs, of course.
This meme is again quoting directly from the script, but it’s still an awesome find. While Nemo and his friends languish in a fish tank with no hope of escape, Gill blocks the air filter in preparations for their escape attempt. This has the unfortunate effect of not allowing their fishy waste products to be properly broken down, prompting royal gramma fish Gurgle to say what everyone else is thinking.
3 Gros Mot A Plenty
Ratatouille premiered at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, California in 2007 and was met with critical acclaim. The New York Times called it “a nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film,” while Rotten Tomatoes was equally as glowing: “Fast-paced and stunningly animated.” Some others were not so keen such as the Miami Herald, which called it “the most straightforward and formulaic picture to date from Pixar Animation Studios.” But the general consensus was that Pixar had created a fine piece of animation.
Ratatouille is fast-paced and full of adult humor, as well as the obvious storyline and gags for children. We think this meme sums up the creators’ humor and intent. It's with this subtlety of humor that Pixar wins over its impressively mammoth and devoted audiences.
2 Big Feet, Big… Shoes
The highest grossing film of 2013 and the fifth biggest box-office smash of all time, Frozen was a huge success for Disney. For a simplified adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, it hit the world by storm and had dads and mums singing numbers from the score along with their kids.
This meme takes a couple of lines direct from the script, but it’s still a class act. After Kristoff decides to help Anna find her sister, they start getting to know each other. Kristoff tries to find out a little more about Anna’s whirlwind engagement to Hans by asking questions about her fiancé. And kaboom! Classic Disney putting in a line about foot size, which we all know is meant to represent the size of a pink tractor beam. Of course, Anna’s oblivious to the hint, as were 100% of the children watching the film, but it was enough for us.
1 Mommy’s Picture
Another visit to Monstropolis now and a further hint at Pixar’s genius knack for split-second reveals. The ultimate buddy story of a young girl befriending a monster is a regular Disney formula and has been played out more than once in other stories. Throughout their long reign, Disney has also prided itself on placing so-called “Easter Eggs” -- references, intentional jokes or hidden messages -- in just about all of its Pixar films. For example, in Monsters, Inc., only a few keen-eyed fans will notice a model of Jessie (Toy Story) laying on Boo’s floor or Boo handing Sulley a model of Nemo. They're there, but they're quick.
The same goes for this freeze frame from Monsters, Inc.. As Sulley hovers at Boo’s door, we see on the wall to the left a drawing that probably wouldn’t pass muster with the British Board of Film Classification. Oh, how Mommy would shriek with embarrassment if she stumbled upon this particular work of art!