Watching the latest Pixar movie is always a treat but sometimes we get a special bonus of a new Pixar short. I loved the latest Incredibles 2 film and will post my review of that sometime this week, but I thought I would talk about the short that played before it: the delightful Bao.
Much has been talked about Bao being the first Pixar short directed by a woman, Domee Shi. While I think that is great, I worry that it may give the appearance of praise based on the sex of the director rather than the actual quality of the short. Shi is not only a trailblazer but did a tremendous job creating a short that is sweet and heartfelt that any parent (or child for that matter) will be able to relate with.
Bao is an allegorical tale about a woman who struggles with her son growing up and misses the love he used to show her. One day she is making dumplings and to her shock one of the dumplings smiles at her and becomes a type of child to her that grows and makes friends. This dumpling boy is adorable.
As Boa Boy grows the Mother must deal with her own feelings of loneliness and ultimate rejection. Of course, this story is an allegory of her struggles with her actual son (who looks hilariously like Bao Boy). But I don’t think you have to be a parent to relate to her feelings. What person hasn’t struggled with change or felt rejected by a loved one? Everyone goes through tough times and the ending with her and her son was pitch-perfect and very truthful.
Plus, if I was Disney I would have a whole Bao themed restaurant in Disneyland because all of the food looked so delicious. I love bao buns with roasted pork and vegetables in them. Yum! I also love the sweet rolls that become a symbol of forgiveness at the end of the short. They are so good!
I don’t think Bao is one of my all time favorite Pixar shorts but it was definitely in the higher portion. I really enjoyed the watercolor-influenced backgrounds, the adorable character design and the score by Toby Chu.
Bao was sweet and lovely short and in many ways reminded me of Sanjay’s Super Team with its focus on a parent and child relationship. Both are great, and I hope Disney puts a new volume of Pixar shorts out soon so we can watch all of these more recent entries together.
What did you think of Bao? How does it rank for you amongst all the Pixar shorts?
3 thoughts on “Pixar 41: Bao”
I will say that when I watched it I was very confused in the beginning about what was going on! Once you saw the ending it all made sense. But I just thought it was really bizarre until it clicked, lol.
I must admit, when I first watched Bao, my reaction was, “Hmmm.” I was utterly nonplussed by the experience. I won’t spoil the story, but there is a moment where the mother does something to the dumpling that completely shocked me.
In retrospect, I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that this film wasn’t made for everyone…and that’s ok. This detailed the immigrant experience but it’s about more than that. This was told from the very specific point of view of a mother over her son in a new land. It’s about the way those cultures meld amongst different generations and how her overprotective feelings influence their relationship.
I’ve since read an interview with the director and it confirmed my thoughts. I really appreciate that a film like this got made by Pixar. It’s quite an odd little film.
A lot of people seem to have struggled with that moment. I guess I took it as an allegory from the beginning so I thought it was kind of funny. It’s interesting what you say about the immigrant experience. I hadn’t thought of it quite that way. It just seemed to me to be about those moments where we feel betrayed, angry, frustrated with our family members and when change can be hard. Then we work through those feelings to forgive and be stronger. The ending really speaks to that but I like the immigrant angle. It is especially interesting when you think of Bao and Sanjay’s Super Team together