Pixar’s latest animated film is “Elemental”, which is an all-new original film that is set in Element City, where fire-,water-, land- and air-residents live together, but not all elements are treated equally, and the main focus of the film is on Ember, a tough, quick-witted and fiery young woman, who forms a friendship with a fun, sappy, go-with-the-flow guy named Wade, which challenges her beliefs about the world they live in.
Ember works in her family-owned corner shop with her father, Bernie, who settled in the city for a better life and now is waiting on Ember to finally prove she is ready to run the store on her own, so he can retire to spend time with his wife. However, as you might expect, not everything goes according to plan, as there is a water leak in the shop, bringing Wade into their lives. The pair go on an adventure to find where the water is coming from, and along the way, as they get to know one another, they slowly fall in love.
This is a charming love story that deals with many sensitive issues such as immigration, racism, and mixed relationships, but it’s done through elements, where we see that certain elements don’t mix together, especially with water or land. It’s very subtle and extremely well done, as younger audiences won’t pick up on the hints, and it’s all done in a way that adults can relate to. It’s a vital part of the story, and I feel it was handled perfectly, because it deals with the problems a family can face when they move from their home to a brand new place, feeling unwelcome and looked down on.
And the film also deals with the idea of interracial relationships is also done with lots of respect, especially with the father having so much hatred for water elements, as we get to see Ember trying to deny her feelings, while also not wanting to hurt her family.
There are other themes throughout the film, which certainly hit a nerve with me, where Ember has spent her whole life getting ready to take over the family business, she never really thought about what she wanted, and that’s why she continues to get so frustrated while talking to customers. This was something I could completely relate to, since I’ve been almost in that exact same position. And I’m sure that will touch a nerve with many people who have worked with their families in small businesses.
Throughout the movie, there are some touching moments throughout the film, that often turned me into water! Pixar is one of the masters of pulling on those heartstrings, and this one does that perfectly. It does a great job of giving older viewers lots of subplots and nuance to think about, while younger audiences will just take it all in, with bright, beautiful colours and think its funny.
When I first saw the trailer for the film, I thought it looked like a slightly different version of “Inside Out”, just with elements, but I was very wrong and I think the marketing for the film didn’t really show what this film was all about, because its basically a romantic comedy.
Overall, “Elemental” is an absolute delight, and I think it’s easily the best Pixar movie that’s been released in years. It’s full of heart and so charming. There are lots of silly little things along the way to keep you laughing, and I loved how the film handled some very sensitive issues with care and delivered an entertaining story.
Rating – 4 Out Of 5
The digital version also comes with plenty of additional features, and the big one for me is the “Up” short, “Carl’s Date”, which was originally going to be a Disney+ Original and was an expansion of the “Dug Days” short series. It’s another heartwarming story that really hits hard, as Carl accidentally accepts a date invitation and becomes extremely nervous since he hasn’t been on a date since he was young, but he is then hit with guilt over his widow. Once again, Pixar hits the emotional spot hard, which will certainly bring adults to tears, and there are plenty of funny moments in there to keep younger viewers entertained.
Other extras include the typical behind-the-scenes featurettes, which as with most extras, feel a bit fluffy, but it does really showcase how immigration was such an important part of the creator’s story, as so many of the people who worked on the film have come from immigrant families, which allows them to tell this story with so much heart. There are also many deleted scenes, but these are simply storyboard versions, so they are very rough to watch. But it’s interesting to see how the film could have worked out differently.
Overall, the digital version is a great way to watch the film, with all of the usual bonus features but for me, it’s “Carl’s Date” which stands out as the main reason to pick this up. Generally, with bonus features, I watch them once and never again, but “Carl’s Date” is something you’ll rewatch.
Note: Disney provided a digital copy of the film for review purposes
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.