I recently wrote up an explainer for Bao on The Young Folks:
Bao was directed by Domee Shi, the first woman to ever direct a Pixar short…Over the course of about eight minutes, we see a dumpling become a baby boy, growing up under his mother’s love until eventually becoming too old to stay home with her. Essentially, Bao is a Chinese retelling of “The Gingerbread Man.”
I saw Incredibles 2 for the second time last night with a large audience, and I was almost more curious about how Bao would come across in front of other people. In case you haven’t seen it, Bao has a very “Pixar” plot with an absolutely shockingly weird twist that almost lampoons Pixar. It’s probably genius?
And the crowd was about as confused, laughing nervously but also gasping. Many were crying by the end. It was a whirlwind of emotion similar to previous Pixar feature films…but it also felt different, like a reasonable evolution of the stories Pixar can tell that go beyond “what if [this] had feelings?”
I fully credit the out-of-the-box thinking of Domee Shi, who conceived of the idea years ago and followed it through to its wacky conclusion. In my view, she represents the future of what Pixar can be as it moves into its next era of animated films: less safe, culturally honest, and surprising. Which is why I consider this next bit to be some seriously good news:
Last fall, Shi pitched three other original ideas to Pixar, and one of them is being developed into a feature film.
If it’s anything like Bao, I’m onboard. You can see the short film alongside Incredibles 2, which is now in theaters.