Brad Bird's Inside Jokes ¬

2007-12-14

Yesterday’s Daring Fireball Linked List included a link to A special ‘Where’s WALL-E’ edition of Why For? for a look at some of Pixar’s in-jokes. Emily and I are quite the pair of Pixar fans so most of these reference were known to us, but there are a few gems we hadn’t noticed yet. Tin Toy under the bed in Lifted? Incredibles Manga in Finding Nemo?!

Let’s just say, it’s a must read for an overview of many of the in-jokes that Pixar has included as you’ll likely have missed one or two. But I was surprised by one of Jim Hill’s comments:

“Given that Brad was something of an outsider when he first arrived in Emeryville, he didn’t automatically buy into all of Pixar’s oddball traditions.”

Brad Bird may have been a new addition to the Pixar team, but he’s no stranger to the tradition of in-jokes. You have to remember that he was trained at Disney, so many of his references are more subtle and definitely old-school Disney compared to the Pixar standard.

Catastrophe Feared As Crisis Looms!

First, the “Catastrophe Feared As Crisis Looms!” headline1 on the Bob Parr’s newspaper in The Incredibles:

Of which a play on—“Disaster Seen As Catastrophe Looms”—can also be seen as on Dean McCoppin’s newspaper in The Iron Giant:

And actually dates back to Jim Dear’s newspaper in Lady and the Tramp:

Frank & Ollie

How about the two old men men who say, “There’s no school like the old school,” at the end of The Incredibles? They tease you by pointing them out in the animator’s commentary, but not telling you who they are:

They also have cameos in The Iron Giant as train engineers:

They are, in fact2, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, Disney animators-extraordinaire who worked on most of the Disney classics. Yes, including Lady and the Tramp.

No School Like The Old School

And last, but not least, the high school in The Incredibles:

Is the spitting image of Disney’s Animation building:

1 Emily deserves credit for first catching on to this one.

2 They’ll actually tell you this in the director’s commentary on the The Iron Giant DVD.

  1. Great catch on that first one (maybe the Lady and the Tramp headline itself is a reference to a real-world incident?), I was aware of the second, and the third… well, I’m not sure but it does seem probable. I dig these sneaky little jokes, especially when they’re not done to death (Wilhelm scream, anyone?)

  2. I’m not sure if the Lady and the Tramp headline actually relates to a real-world event at the time or not, but it is definitely intended to portray the headlines of the time. The dialog that goes along with it includes Jim Dear saying, “Have you noticed, darling? Since we’ve had Lady, we see less and less of those disturbing headlines.”

    Regarding the junior high school, while it does differ a little and could be nearly everyone’s Californian middle school, I do believe it was modeled after the Disney Animation building.

    I especially like the extra multiple-meaning jokes here and there like the school’s name: Western View. Not only because it was on the west coast, but it also describes the general philosophy taught there.

  3. Catastrophe Seen as Crisis Looms headline dates back to “Fun and Fancy Free”

  4. Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to go back and watch that.

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