Pixar is known for its short films, released in tandem with each of its feature films, as much as it is known for hitting audiences in the feels. The latest Pixar short, set to release with The Incredibles 2 on June 15, is called Bao, and it looks like it may be the pre-movie short film that ends up provoking viewers' sentimental feelings with its cuteness overload.
Directed by storyboard artist Domee Shi — who is the first female director of a Pixar short — Bao is the story of a Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from empty nest syndrome now that all of her children have left the house. She is delighted, though, to have a new sort of offspring to tend to when one of her homemade dumplings comes to life.
"Often times it felt like my mom would treat me like a precious little dumpling, wanting to make sure I was safe, that I didn’t go out late, all that stuff," Shi said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Shi's mother was even involved in the filmmaking process. Pixar filmed Shi's mother cooking dumplings, getting close footage of her hands in order to animate the process exactly right.
The artwork of the dumpling-come-to-life shows an adorable doughboy-style character who goes through the full range of emotions in his "Gingerbread Man" fairy tale story. The woman cares for her dumpling baby as it goes through the stages of its little dumpling life. Just in case you were curious, puberty involves sesame seeds. Sounds tastier than traditional acne.
If that's not cute enough, Shi explained that "the word ‘bao’ actually means two things in Chinese: Said one way, it means steamed bun. Said another, it means something precious. A treasure."
Looks like anyone who thought a Pixar sequel might mean a reprieve from any heavy-hitting emotional turmoil may be crying before the film even begins. Those unaffected by the bond between a mother and her dumpling will no doubt at least walk away hungry.
The Incredibles 2 is written and directed by Brad Bird and will be released in theaters on June 15, 2018. The film stars Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible, Holly Hunter as Elastigirl, Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr, Huck Milner as Dashiell “Dash” Robert Parr, Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone, Brad Bird as Edna Mode and John Ratzenberger as The Underminer.