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Pixar’s Timely, But Disappointing Entry – The Hollywood Reporter


Everyone has their favorite Pixar movie – mine is Cocowith Wall-E And ratatouille Seconds So Close – And no matter which title you prefer in the game-changing animation studio’s catalog, nearly every one of them feels unique. (the cars And Toy Story Except for the sequels, although some of them were fresh and innovative).

But in the past few years, Pixar, which Disney bought for more than $7 billion in 2006, has failed to deliver the goods as well as it once did. spirit He was ambitious but played a lot like jazz inside out. Luca It was fun in the Italian sun but also very slight. Light year It was an unnecessary byproduct of a great series that should have ended as a trilogy.


bottom line

very elementary.

place: Cannes Film Festival (closing night)
release date: Friday 16th June
Throw: Lea Lewis, Mamodou Athie, Ronnie Del Carmen, Sheila Omi, Wendy McClendon-Covery, Catherine O’Hara
exit: Peter Soon
Screenwriter: John Hoberg, Kat Lickle, Brenda Hsueh

1 hour 42 minutes

Which brings us to racist. Studio 27y A feature that, well, has all the elements that make a great Pixar movie: a high-concept presentation that could only be made by dazzling computer animation; a serious overarching theme about racial conflict and racial tolerance; The humor is for kids and adults alike, though this one is geared more towards the 10-and-under group; A plot that hits all the right beats at just the right time.

It’s all there – so much so racist It may be the first work from Pixar that feels entirely AI-generated. Not only is the AI ​​calculating all the pictures, it’s literally an algorithm that puts together the perfect Pixar movie. The problem, of course, is that originality is mostly absent here, as is the thematic risk-taking that has propelled films like Wall-E (The planet is almost dying!) Or inside out (Die ping pong!) or Coco (People are dying!).

in racist, Pixar’s usual ambitious leap into the unknown is more of a safe dip in calm waters — water is one of the four elements that drive the story, though only two of them count here — and much about it feels all too familiar. That’s not to say it won’t be at least a modest summer hit when Disney releases it in mid-June, after premiering in Cannes on the festival’s closing night. But the wow factor has kind of been lost at this point, and what we’re left with looks like just another Pixar movie.

It takes about a minute or two to realize that the Peter Sohn-directed film (The good dinosaur — Mid-Range Pixar) and written by Jon Hoberg, Kat Lickle, and Brenda Hsueh, is a gigantic, wildly expensive ($200 million to be exact) metaphor for immigration and exclusion. Son said the story was inspired by his family’s experiences with the arrival of Koreans in New York, a place here transformed into an amazing mega-city called Element City – a Big Apple populated by the likes of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water, with the latter dominating the others.

Immigrant couple Bernie Lumen (Ronnie Del Carmen) and his wife, Cinder (Sheila Omni) arrive by boat in the city’s Ellis Island equivalent, from their native place in Fairland to give themselves a new life. Baby daughter Ember (Leah Lewis). Without much money or connections, and as members of the Fire minority, they end up in the working-class neighborhood of Fire Town, where Bernie opens a grocery store called Fire Place that caters to other Fire people like himself.

If you’ve already had enough of all those obscure names and easy jokes, there’s a lot to come in a movie that strives to find humor in its parallel urban world of gushing fires, H2O blobs, floating puffs of clouds and what essentially look like old tree stumps. (Earth sure doesn’t get much of a head here, as most of its characters come off as dull as dirt. Or is it just another pun?)

A quick-opening montage—stricken in most Pixar films since higher – Ember shows growing up as loving parents in a community far from the city’s water-controlled power centers. Her father wants her to take over the family business, but by the time she is in her twenties, Ember’s tantrums reveal that she may desire something else outside of life. When city inspector, goofy and sloppy Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie), unexpectedly walks past the store’s plumbing, it’s not really love at first sight, especially after he writes citations that could shut down Fireplace.

But as Paula Abdul famously predicted, opposites attract, and that’s how Ember and Wade start to become attached to each other, even if they can’t make any physical contact because you get it. Pixar’s story algorithm takes over at that point, as the two face all sorts of obstacles as they fall in love despite their inherent differences, prompting Ember to hide the relationship from a proud father who’d rather she stay in Fire Town.

Water has always been a difficult material for animators, and what Sohn and his team do with it, especially once Ember starts visiting downtown Elemental City with Wade, can be impressive. The wide-ranging color palette includes shades of blue, turquoise, and green that this partially color-blind critic felt like, and the whole place looks like Shanghai’s Pudong district in a giant aquarium. Another innovation includes figures whose faces and bodies are filled with continuous internal movement, whether they are filled with flames or liquids.

That, and some charmingly funny sequences – notably a visit by Ember and Wade to Boogie’s overbearing mother (Katherine O’Hara) – can’t, however, make up for the film’s main flaw, which is that it feels entirely predictable. We’ve probably all seen way too many Pixar movies by now, and so on an item It was the studio’s first-ever release rather than its thousandth, as surprising as it may sound, more daring.

Still, the immigrant tale that Sohn and his army of animators have created feels worthy and timely, especially at a time when America seems to be slipping into a xenophobia unseen since the 1920s. By far the most moving element in an item She is the character of Bernie, a hard-working foreigner who does everything he can to support his family in the big city, breaking his back in his humble little shop while striving to preserve some of the traditions of his homeland.

His story proves to involve more than just a romance between Ember and Wade that goes exactly where you think it would, highlighting the many difficulties, both personal and societal, faced by people of different races trying to hold on to each other. Had Pixar perhaps taken more risks with this scheme, they may have delighted a younger demographic than it takes for such a project to be profitable, but they also might have delivered a film on par with some of their best work. Instead, all the elements fit perfectly into place – so much so that the water finally puts out the fire, leaving us without much of an impression.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.