Don’t get to your seat late! There’s a special Pixar short called “Carl’s Date” about Carl going out on a date, leaving his loving dog Dug behind. But can he? A picture of his beloved wife, Ellie, is sitting on the mantel. Could he move on?
Ed Asner passed in 2021, so this is something special to see, as it is Asner giving Carl his voice one last time. You may have to have a tissue in your hand for this, but you can’t miss it. It’s heartbreaking but also very sweet.
Then “Elemental” starts. The film is directed by Peter Sohn. Sohn is an animator, voice actor (Sox in Lightyear), storyboard artist, and film director. In 2009, he made his directorial debut with a short he also wrote called “Partly Cloudy.” Turns out he’s not bad in the directing department, but he needs more experience.
Your eyes focus on a very bright, beautiful screen, so lean back; it helps… and off you go. Prepare yourself for a good time. Good, but not the best that Pixar has delivered in the past. It won’t spark an inferno in your heart, but it won’t exactly blow out the Pixar fuse, either.
The idea director Sohn starts you out with is noticing, right away, the play on words used for an element. By this, I mean names and such. The perfect example is the pregnant couple Bernie and Cinder, two flames who are approaching Element City.
They hope to start a new life with their daughter Ember in the suburbs. Ember is adorably voiced by Leah Lewis, but the adorable she gives her Pixar character can change at a moment’s notice, as her character has a terrible temper. Ever hear of tempered glass? See what I mean? Play on words. You’ll love it. That kind of thing is everywhere. This sort of thing is more for the adults than the children as I don’t think they’ll catch on to some of them. Still, it doesn’t hurt the fun they’ll have from the uplifting characters and beautiful CGI with other creative elements of the film.
Since the family is the fire element of earth, wind, fire and water, no one will rent them a room, but they find a perfect house to fit their needs in “Firetown.” They’ll flourish and spread as long as they avoid that horrible water. The family now has a business in Firetown. Ember helps but needs help dealing with the customers. They often push her buttons.
Having a terrible day, the house floods because of her uncontrollable anger. But because of her anger, she meets Wade Ripple, who comes to look at the property, there to possibly shut her father’s store down.
She eventually gets close to Wade, even though his element is water. They look beyond that, and he challenges her to see the beauty she has within her that she never believed existed. She also has a talent that Wade’s mother encourages. This, you’ll love.
Ember’s father wants to pass the business on to Ember when she’s ready, but he has yet to ask her if that’s what she wants. She’s still determining if that’s what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Her and Wade’s friendship grows as the idea of life taking over the family store fades.
The story and the script are clever, but the building of the relationship between Ember and Wade sometimes gets a little stale. However, when you realize that the story tells you that opposites aren’t supposed to attract and that others see it that way, the theme becomes much deeper than just a kid’s story.
Directed by: Peter Sohn
Written by: John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, Brenda Hsueh
Starring: Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Catherine O’Hara, Mason Wertheimer, Joe Pera, Matt Yang King
Runtime: 1h 43m
Genre: Kids & family, Fantasy, Adventure, Comedy, Animation
Rating: PG (Thematic Elements|Some Peril|Brief Language)
Distributed by: Disney/Pixar