In much the same way that short stories allow for bizarre, unsustainable scenarios that would never sufficiently fill out a novel, so Pixar’s short films provide an outlet for not-quite-a-story-but-not-quite-not-a-story premises: An old man playing chess against himself? A living lost and found box? Personifications of day and night? Sure, it works for five minutes.
And so we have a similarly half-baked concept with Lava, the short that premiered before Inside Out in 2015, a love story between two volcanoes.
The short has extremely well-rendered effects animations and a big sentimental, almost melodramatic, streak. I confess that I love the design of Uku, the original, male volcano. He very much feels like a living geological feature, his shape and movements elemental. (Unfortunately, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole passed away almost two decades before this debuted, so he couldn’t appear in an obvious stunt-casting.)
What I’m less fond of is the love story mechanics and the design of Lele. She’s shaped inexplicably like a curvy woman, adding a weird anthropomorphized contrast to the design. There’s, frankly, something ooky about it once you start deconstructing the romance — shared magma forming both mountains, the age gap, and the propinquity of two stationary volcanoes.
Thankfully, one needs not be quite so pedantic in a very broad strokes, abstract story of the power of persistent love.
On the other hand, Lava is one of two Pixar shorts, ever, that was paired with a wide theatrical release but missed an Oscar nomination, so maybe I’m not the only one who thinks there’s something off about it.
Nearly Good (4/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.