The year was 2015, I had booked a single ticket to a late-evening showing of Pixar’s newest release, Inside Out. I was in a cinema in Edinburgh, it was the first time I’d been to a Scottish cinema. I hoped that some slight differences between our cultures would mean that it was somehow less creepy in Scotland for a lone adult man to attend a late screening of a children’s movie. I was sadly mistaken on this front. For myriad reasons, too complex and uninteresting to delve into, I was in an emotionally febrile state. Given this and Pixar’s stellar track record at creating films that deftly pluck at the heart-strings, I reckoned the likelihood that I would cry at some point during the course of the screening stood at around 80%.
After some minutes sitting in the screen, empty save for two other lone men – who had chosen to sit as far apart as the geography of the screen’s seating plan allowed – another pair arrived in. This new pair entered just as the lights were dimming and, ignoring the vast sea of empty seats, elected to sit in the ones immediately adjacent to me. As the ads began to roll, one of them unmistakably gave off the vibe of someone who would have no qualms about talking loudly and garishly throughout the screening, mostly because he had no qualms about talking loudly and garishly throughout the ads. I remember a prolonged series of very underwhelming quips during Nivea ad proving a particular nadir. My risk of crying now hovered around the 90% mark.
The ads finally came to an end and, rather than the screen fading in to the opening scenes of Inside Out, we were instead greeted to a Pixar short called ‘Lava’.
Lava told the story of a lonely volcano in the Pacific Ocean. Growing weary of its isolation, it pined to meet another volcano with which to share its life. Personally, it ticked all the boxes to make the likelihood of a teary episode rise further, containing as it did 1) Depictions of unrequited yearning 2) A person and/or anthropomorphised object or animal exhibiting a stoic and increasingly hard to raiontalise sense of optimism in spite of bleak circumstances, and 3) A reverent depiction of ocean geography.
I have no qualms about saying that, by the time Lava concluded, I was in the midst of, what I have subsequently dubbed, ‘Tear-Fest 2015’ – an event which ultimately led to the two men who’d settled beside me moving seats before the film proper began.
All of this is to say that Pixar have an absolutely stellar record of creating, not just some of the greatest animated feature films, but also breath-taking shorts. While that may have been a needlessly lengthy introduction to that point, cathartically I needed to get that story off my chest.
Pixar’s latest short film ‘Bao‘ – which was released in tandem with Incredibles 2, has now been released on YouTube for a limited time. Rather than take you through a potted description of the short here, just watch the damn thing for yourselves. Frankly if you’ve actually read any of this article and done anything other than immediately scroll down to the video directly below this paragraph then you really have to reassess your own priorities, much as I was forced to do once I’d passed through the worst of Tear-Fest 2015.