I think a lot of us can guess why Disney/Pixar's CARS 2 was made; assuming Bob Iger ordered it almost totally due to the massive sales of CARS toys. But at least CARS 2, for its faults, did improve
on John Lasseter's overly indulgent, pokily-paced original. However, after the three-for-three artistic/commerical successes of WALL-E, UP and TOY STORY 3, CARS 2 seemed like something
genetically engineered for 11 years-and-younger boys--heavy on the Mater stuff and very simple, nail-on-the-head approach to key story points.
BRAVE--a film which now stands as Pixar's lowpoint, equivalent to Disney's disastrous sword-and-sorcery 1985 venture into PG-edginess THE BLACK CAULDRON--is a film which started with a woman as writer/director (Brenda Chapman). Apparently, Ms. Chapman's approach to the female-centered film was found wanting--and Mark Andrews (not a woman) was brought in to "save" it. Thereby, the film has a promising first half-hour followed by a dental-floss thin storyline to carry the last hour. (As irony would have it, sorcery/magic does play a role in Acts Two and Three of BRAVE.)
What's even worse is that the story points/moral are painted in 80s neon colors, with songs used on the soundtrack to pound the message in that much harder. And the female empowerment/choose your destiny message is worthy, but even DreamWorks at its broadest (take ANTZ and SHARK'S TALE as examples) has a little more subtlety in storytelling.
So what are the problems with the Pixar factory in Emeryville CA? John Lasseter being spread too thin (since he also oversees Disney in-house animation)? Worries that WALL-E and UP were too "smart" for family audiences? Massive pressure to crank out one a year--plus resorting to sequels/prequels?
Or is it an edict from Disney that animation should be kid-centered and dumbed down a bit, with no worries about pleasing a broad audience because parents will accompany children to even the worst kind of treacle that youngsters are hard-sold on via Disney Store dolls, TV ads, magazine articles etc?