What went wrong at Pixar? This is the innovative animation studio that pioneered everything in the first decade of this millennium that invented a way to take advantage of the vivid surface of digital animation in vertical format toy storywho agreed to start a film with a 20-minute scene with no dialogue Wall-E – and revealed the kids didn’t care – and that would make for an adventure film starring a 78-year-old hero HIGH!. As it turned out, the kids didn’t care either, because Carl Fredricksen was a grumpy adventurer who didn’t care what other people thought of him either. Pixar always had something new up its collective artistic sleeve. And yet here they come out with a film that’s as goofy and syrupy as Elementary.
The title suggests the kids will have a head start on the periodic table, which appears to have been director Peter Sohn’s first idea, but no. The elements in Elementary, which ended the Cannes Film Festival tonight, are now the ancient Greek: fire, water, air and earth. A candy-colored version of New York, Element City is a water-rich city filled with canals, drains and dams; Among its inhabitants are earth people with flowers under their armpits and air people billowing like clouds. Its predominantly liquid citizens resemble balloons, agile humanoids made of water that can disintegrate into their natural element under pressure and then emerge fully reconstituted down drains. That’s how Wade Ripple, City Inspector of Water Works, walks into the store, is led by an elderly couple from the fire department, and meets Ember, their beaming daughter.
Firefighters are dangerous goods. Aquarians, afraid of being turned to steam, ban them from public buildings. Villains regularly tell them to go back to where they came from, which is Tierra del Fuego. Ember’s family consists of immigrants who came to Element City from Fireland after storms devastated their hometown. “It was the only way to create a better life… it was the last time your father saw his family,” says Ember’s mother, eyes narrowed tightly, though her ash eyes can’t cry.
The firefighters, who are hardly tolerated, therefore stick to their own. Living across the river from the city, they avoid taking trains where they could accidentally turn the leaf hairs of Earthlings to ash or be splashed with water from the aqueducts overhead. “The city isn’t made for Firepeople,” Ember says as she makes her way to a delivery to her father’s store, which sells the kind of chili balls that Firepeople love to eat. “It would take an act of God to get me across that bridge … everything I need is right here.” Until she meets Wade, a see-through sausage of wet love who cries at almost everything and really likes Ember, too when he can’t touch her.
Wade takes them into town where they check out the view from a very tall building – uh, look at the Empire State – and then go to the movies. flood and prejudice shows. There’s a sprinkling of those visual jokes, the usual mocking game for guardians watching family movies; You can count on Pixar’s rooms full of geniuses to bring out countless whimsical details. Let’s not cut it short. There are also some wild explosions, especially when Ember loses his temper. There are sensational floods and a colorfully staged football game between aggressive clouds. There is simply no line or situation that would make you laugh. Not even if you were four.
Nobody knows anything, as William Goldman said. It’s true that kids loved watching a movie about the friendship of a tin can with a steering wheel inside Wall-E, which seemed unlikely before it happened. Still, I’m confident they’ll find the little romance between the unlikely Ember and Wade just gross. Because it’s gross.
Elementary, a film that starts with a clever concept and then builds a world of invention – exactly what we’ve come to expect from Pixar – and then uses that world as the backdrop for a drawn-out flirt that could have been ripped from the script of a telenovela. I know kids are pretty knowledgeable about the world these days, but it’s just the kind of thing that makes them just plain embarrassed about being alive, especially when it culminates in a big, sticky, fire-and-water kiss and her parents are in the room.
There are parts that are just plain boring. I wonder if young audiences will take the opportunity presented to learn more about the role of water pressure in a canal system, which has certainly lost me. Perhaps the romance is aimed at girls while the technical snippets are a reassurance for the boys? That sort of gender stereotyping is said to be gone with the Ark, but we know it still works, and finally, there are troublesome (and currently difficult) market realities to consider.
Then there’s the oft-repeated eulogies about hard-working immigrants and moments when we see how badass racists are, signaling a worthy message of inclusivity with the subtlety of a pipe bursting under the sink. Admittedly, smug moralizing is an enduring element of family entertainment. Again, the kids won’t care, but seeing the truly harrowing experience of fugitives spun in even more icing and whipped over the core romance might prove too much for even the most compassionate woke adults. Elementary could have been called simply Sentimental. It would have saved time.
Section: Cannes (Out of competition)
Director: peter son
Screenwriters: John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, Brenda Hsueh, Peter Sohn
Voice Pour: Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie
Duration: 1 hour 42 minutes