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Bao


Note: I generally try to avoid including any spoilers in reviews. However, given that this is a short film, it was a little difficult to not disclose too much. Therefore, you may want to watch the film first before reading this review.

Bao is one of the latest in Pixar Studio's 35 computer-animated short films. It was written and directed by Domee Shi, a Chinese Canadian. The short film was released with the full length feature Incredibles 2 in 2018.

"Bao" is the chinese word for a bun with some kind of filling inside, which is essentially what this story is about. An elderly woman makes these buns for her and presumably her husband from scratch. And somehow, one of these buns comes to life as he sprouts arms and legs. Although she was frightened at first, the elderly woman proceeds to raise him as her own child.

Raising a son who is part pastry presents numerous unique challenges and funny moments. For example, "Bao" gets snatched up by a dog in the park one day. (Don't worry. He's fine.) The mother and son continue to spend years together as Bao grows up. At first, I thought this might be a Pinocchio-type story, where Bao eventually becomes a real boy. However, later on in the film, an unexpected twist shows that Bao is less of a fairy tale and more of a story about family.

Like many other Pixar short films, there is no dialogue in the film at all. However, a complete story is still brilliantly told using clever imagery and effective background music. In fact, the plot of Bao is more extensive than most of the studio's other short films. In addition, the animation itself was beautifully done, with attention to very fine details that highlight Chinese culture.

Bao is not only funny and intelligent, but it was also surprisingly touching and meaningful. This is not what one would typically expect from a short film that is only 8 minutes long. Although it isn't obvious at the beginning, it is a story about love, family, and acceptance, especially as it pertains to Chinese culture.
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