LOU (2017, Short)
Dir: Dave Mullins
As is all too often the case, the most effective and memorable part of a new Disney/Pixar animation is the preceding short, this time ‘Lou’, the tale of a schoolyard lost and found box. Yep I know that sounds a bit strange but trust me, it’s brilliant!
Originally showing before screenings of ‘Cars 3‘, now in the extra features of the home release, this is an overlooked gem of a film that’s now getting a little of the recognition it deserves. Whereas the accompanying feature is solid but doesn’t show us anything we haven’t seen before, when this started I wasn’t sure what exactly was being shown or where it was going. The ambiguous nature of the eponymous ‘Lou’ is very hard to define, yet is instantly charming and warm, introduced in a flurry of activity and wordless philanthropy. This undefinable character grabbed my attention as the story charmed, tugged at the heart-strings and made me laugh in just 7 minutes.
There are recurring Pixar themes of friendship, memories of childhood, along with a touching depiction of bullying and the true nature of bullies. It would make for a very good companion piece to the first ‘Toy Story’ and there’s at least one moment that reminded me of that film very strongly, a reference this has all the licence to make.
It’s the first writer/director credit for Dave Mullins though he already has many credits for Pixar films in the animation department. I raise this point every time I write a review of a Pixar short, which is that the way they nurture talent seems to be working. They give opportunities for their talented artists to take the lead on these shorts that are always so wonderful, which more often than not go on to gain Academy award nominations.
Pixar are here doing what they do best, taking a concept that seems difficult to make a film from, certainly near-impossible in live action, then letting an emerging talent work their magic on it to make something enjoyable and powerful, with all the charm and originality we have come to expect from them. It’s a lovely little film that I fully expected to see on the Academy Award shortlist and am now rooting for it to win, though I’ve not yet seen its direct rivals.
‘LOU’ was screened before showings of ‘Cars 3‘ and is on the home media releases of that film, well worth finding in the extras and watching as it’s actually better than the main feature.