Pixar animation studios is likely responsible for the formative understanding of the world for millions upon millions of children. Before making some of the most beloved animated films ever created, the studio started making its name by making short animated films. Pixar short films are now legendary, typically packing some of the most emotional punches into a runtime between 2-10 minutes, as opposed to a feature length film. With the release of the new Disney+ streaming service, more and more creators are getting to showcase their work as the company is now in need of enough content to keep up with the other streaming services. Several new Pixar short films have come out since November and they all seem to have a shared message of inclusivity and understanding. These messages are helping to show a new generation values that will make the world better for everyone. While all of the recent releases are worth the time to watch, these are the 3 inclusive Pixar short films that Lexington recommends for you and your family.
Float is a short little film about a father that discovers his son is different from other children. His child’s differences are unique and beautiful, as the boy is capable of flight, but other parents and children are shocked and even fearful of the boy. In an effort to protect the child from fear and ridicule, or himself and his reputation, the father attempts to hide the boy’s powers. In the process, he ends up stifling the boy’s imagination and yelling at him for being anything different than “normal.” We won’t spoil much, but the film does have an emotional ending that will warm your heart. Furthermore, this film was created and directed by first time director Bobby Rubio, who based the story off of personal experience. His son has Autism Spectrum Disorder and the child in the film is based on Bobby’s son. Ultimately Bobby indicates that the actions taken by the father are out of fear, while the ultimate acceptance that a child being different isn’t a bad thing is a moment of clarity that some parents don’t get. This is one of those Pixar short films where the message can be interpreted by the audience. The message seems to be, “no matter how your child is different from the rest of the world, remember that their uniqueness is what makes them their own individual.”
Perhaps this one is a little less kid friendly than the last one, although it’s small moments of off-color humor still keep it within the family friendly nature of other Pixar short films. Purl is about a small, pink ball of yarn that starts a job at B.R.O Capital and has a hard time competing with a notably toxic staff of male co-workers. Purl makes an effort to conform and fit in so that she can fit in with the crowd. When a new yarn ball starts, Purl realizes she has lost a lot of her dimensions in order to fit in and quickly takes the new yarn ball under her wing. As the film closes some time later, we see that the office is now a vibrant and welcoming mix of color, with her original co-workers having loosened up the vibe a bit and several new yarn editions to the crew. What’s great about this sketch is that no one is really wrong here. It’s understandable that Purl would want to change, but there isn’t a refusal from her counterparts to make changes once Purl displays how to be inclusive. It comes down to a lack of understanding and a tendency toward conformity in new social situations. The message is clear: a little bit of acceptance and inclusivity will make things brighter than you expected. This film has a great message and it’s worth your time.
In a leap forward for representation, one of the newest Pixar short films, Loop, features a female person of color with non-verbal autism at the forefront of the story. Not many Disney installations have explicitly wandered into non-verbal representation so far, so this story is one that has many people excited. The story is about a young chatty boy and young non-verbal girl attending canoe camp. When they get stuck in the middle of an urban lake, they have to try and understand the world through each other’s eyes in order to navigate back to the shore. The buzz on Twitter for this film went on for months and it’s clearly breaking through barriers with it’s art and story choices. However, what makes it perfect for this list is that it’s enjoyable. It’s not just representative. It truly captures you by the heart.
Kicking back on the couch with the family is a great way to bond, especially when you don’t have to pay movie theater prices or even change out of pajamas. These films are sure to warm the hearts of everyone in your life, so we hope you enjoy our suggestions. If you have any other pieces of media that you want to see Lexington cover, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Twitter using @LexingtonAutism.