'Despicable Me'It's the CGI elephant in the room. Pixar established a new gold standard in animated films with Toy Story in 1995, and each of their succeeding pictures has cemented their position ever deeper (with the possible exception of Cars). As we all know, their latest release, Toy Story 3, has been a tremendous hit with audiences and critics. Does that mean, then, that every animated film must be compared to the Pixar standard -- and found wanting?

The question is prompted by Despicable Me, an exceedingly pleasant picture that's funny and kindhearted. Almost as a bonus, it features very good voice acting by Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, and others. Yet it's lacking in one area, according to the review by my Cinematical colleague Peter Hall: Its "inability to completely engross an adult into the story and characters." As he notes about Pixar: "There's a reason that the best animation studio in the world became the best animation studio in the world. It's because the story comes first above all else."

A commenter named Kevin, though, feels that "comparing every animated film to Pixar's works seems out of place. It would be like comparing every live action movie to The Godfather." He also says: "There are enough animated movies being made nowadays to where each should stand or fall on its own."

I confess that my initial reaction to Peter's review was similar to Kevin's comment. Yet it also points to larger issues when we talk about movies in general: Why are we always comparing movies that have nothing in common with one another, other than the medium in which they are made?