This weekend, Pixar unveils its newest short film in front of their latest feature, “Cars 3”. It’s called “Lou”. The first image released a while back showed a Lost and Found box (where some of the letters come from to form “Lou”) with a red hoodie and two baseballs used as eyeballs. Pixar certainly could’ve gone in some interesting directions with a concept that’s borderline “Toy Story” territory.
The result is a short film with good intentions – but it’s just flat-out weird. This is a pure fantasy, though set in a location that’s very real: an elementary school playground. Kids lose their toys all the time and teachers put them in the “L&F” box, hoping the kids will eventually find them. But when it’s revealed that there’s a school bully who likes to take others’ belongings – you can pretty much figure out where everything is headed…
…Except for the fact that the contents in the “L&F” box form a “being” that actually comes to life. Someone in front of me at the screening said, “Hey – that looks like “E.T.” The comparison isn’t far off. Not only does this make “Lou” way too goofy, but the “life lessons” that follow are all the more uninspired. “Lou” could’ve been saved if this was all one of the bully’s dreams – or a hallucination during class. But this isn’t the case.
2008’s “Presto” was Pixar’s last fantastic original short (un-related to any of their film franchises, such as the “Cars” and “Toy Story Toons”). It was really, really funny – with a terrific relationship storyline between a magician and his rabbit. Since then, the studio has gone in a more somber, overly sappy and sentimental direction, and the results haven’t been pretty.
We’ve seen a couple of decent efforts in “La Luna” and “Sanjay’s Super Team”. But “Partly Cloudy” was underwhelming, “Piper” was gorgeous but way too simple, and the other three – “Day & Night”, “The Blue Umbrella” and “Lava” – all focused on extremely predictable love stories.
With their shorts, Pixar has played it way too safe for way too long. How about taking some legitimate risks, going back to comedy, or making a short with some dialogue. At one point a kid behind me asked, “Why isn’t anyone talking?”
Pixar has another new movie out later this year, “Coco”. But John Lasseter just announced that the upcoming the “Frozen” holiday special, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure”, that was supposed to air on ABC over the holidays, will now be shown in front of “Coco” in theaters instead. The short is 21 minutes long and will include four new songs. This will mark the first time that a Pixar short hasn’t been shown before a Pixar movie since the original “Toy Story” back in 1995.