5. Monsters, Inc.
Sulley leaves Boo
Having to explain loss to a small child is difficult, but watching it unfold can be worse. Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. does exactly that in the final scene showing a touching goodbye between Boo and Sulley, the monster originally assigned to scare her. Through the course of their adventures together, they develop a strong and lasting bond, which makes their inevitable goodbye all the more heartbreaking.
While a touchingly devastating moment, the ending suggests that Sulley successfully reassembled the shredded doorway to Boo’s bedroom and that they were reunited. Keep in mind that Monsters, Inc. was released in 2001, before Pixar perfected its ability to send you into a spiral of despair.
4. Finding Nemo
Nemo becomes an only child
Pixar’s next release, however, Finding Nemo in 2003, was designed to literally traumatize every man, woman and child who watched it. You think Disney’s Bambi was bad? Try losing your mother and hundreds of siblings in one moment, or, in Marlin’s case, your mate and all but one of your children. With this film, particularly this scene, Pixar really mastered the art of stomping on your emotions. Not cool, Pixar. Not cool.
Coco remembers her father and then dies
Anyone who has dealt with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s knows its devastating impact. You yearn for increasingly rarer moments of lucidity and helplessly watch as you are slowly forgotten. Pixar’s Coco depicts this all too well with a story of a young boy named Miguel who struggles between his love of music and love for his family, headed by a matriarch, Coco, who is quickly fading away.
When Miguel is unwittingly transported to the Land of the Dead and meets Coco’s real father, Hector, who had all but been erased from the family’s memory, he realizes that Coco’s passing will double-kill Hector, as she is the only one who remembers him. When he returns to the Land of the Living, he successfully draws a moment of lucidity by singing the song Hector wrote and sang to Coco when she was a little girl – saving Hector’s “life” (or whatever the dead call it).
And then Coco dies. We all knew it was coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. We can take some consolation in the fact that Coco is eventually reunited with her father and mother (who also got back together), even if they were all skeletons.
2. Inside Out
Bing Bong dies
Now, a good number of you had imaginary friends growing up. In fact, according to Psychology Today, 37% of children create one by the time they are seven years old. But, as adults, some of you have forgotten about your imaginary playmates and if you are one of those people, you are a murderer.
Pixar’s Inside Out follows the personified emotions within a young girl named Riley, who struggle to keep up with the inevitable changes that come with adolescence. In this soul-crushing scene, Joy and Bing Bong (Riley’s imaginary friend equipped with a song-powered wagon) are both trapped in a pit of archived memories that disintegrate when they are completely forgotten.
During their final attempt to escape, Bing Bong ejects himself from the wagon allowing Joy to successfully escape. As Joy realizes the gravity of what just happened, she looks down tearfully as Bing Bong slowly disintegrates into the ether forever. Oh, it gets better (worse). As he fades away, he asks Joy to “take her [Riley] to the moon for me, okay?” And just like that, Bing Bong was erased from creation; murdered by his own creator.
It’s too late for poor Bing Bong now and probably your imaginary friend. And while it isn’t currently a crime to brutally annihilate an imaginary friend, for the rest of your life you will have to live with imaginary blood on your hands.
The married life opening montage
In this world there are sad movie scenes and then there are the ones that will absolutely wreck you for hours (maybe even days) after you’ve watched them. The “Married Life” opening montage of Up goes a step further with 5 minutes designed to destroy you forever.
In this scene, the entire married life story of the movie’s protagonist, Carl, and his wife, Ellie, is set to the deceptively lighthearted score composed by Michael Giacchino, beautifully juxtaposing the highs and lows of their life together. As if Ellie’s infertility wasn’t devastating enough, the scene ends with Ellie falling ill and dying at the moment Carl was set to take her on the adventure they had always dreamed of. Seriously, WTF!?
AND if her death wasn’t enough to make you want to jump off a cliff, her final note to Carl, which reads “Thanks for the adventure – now go have a new one! Love Ellie,” should convince you that life is not worth living.