Seven-minute “Bao” debuted as the bumper for this year’s
While Ars Technica takes a comprehensive approach to film reviews, we usually skip one portion: any pre-film “bumper.” For one, these cartoon shorts are usually dissimilar from the film they’re attached to. More importantly, most studios don’t bother with them.
Pixar has consistently been the exception to that rule, and the studio has shipped so many bumper shorts that it has put out a whopping three compilations of the things. To promote the latest collection, Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 3, the Disney-owned studio has made a bold decision: to give away its latest (and possibly best) short on YouTube. As it turns out, Pixar has never offered such a giveaway until this week.
The short, named “Bao,” debuted at the beginning of this June’s Incredibles 2, and it includes a lot of what you might expect from a Pixar quickie. Meaning, it continues the tradition of telling a somewhat melodramatic story sans dialogue—and getting away with cheesy moments by combining beautiful designs with touching stories. In the case of “Bao,” that story revolves around a mother-and-son story that is abstracted by the mom discovering that her latest kitchen creation, a warm dumpling, has somehow become a living, breathing thing.
Caring for the big-eyed dumpling leads to a few hilarious interactions, particularly while mom practices group meditation in a park. After that cute start, the child’s growth from bun-baby to bun-man lets Pixar put a new twist on an archetypal story of overprotective parents and changing traditions—and imbue it with an organic amount of culturally specific context, courtesy of Chinese-Canadian Director Domee Shi.
Since this one is full of tear-jerker potential, we recommend waiting until you’re not around coworkers or public-transit patrons before watching the embedded video below. (But if you like crying in public, then by all means, let Pixar take you to sob city.