Well since got more posts than I thought it would, might as well start a discussion. Why do you think these clips are so sad, or would they be more or less effective if they were live action as opposed to animated?
I think it really depends, but for the most part, I couldn't picture them being pulled off as effectively if it were live-action.
I always took it as his parents were split and that lady was his dad's girlfriend/second wife, but then my parents got divorced when I was right around that age so that may be why I recall it that way.
That's the way I took it, too. Maybe the mom died, though, but it definitely seemed as though his father remarried.
But it also seemed as though the father wasn't around often anymore or at all, so maybe the dad or both parents died
I just assumed he was a neglectful dad all wound up in his new lady and work, maybe the boy has some half brothers/sisters who the father favors more haha but yeah no idea! Pixar did a very good job at leaving that to the imagination