I saw The Incredibles 2 last night, after an entire fourteen-year wait for this sequel—I was just about fourteen years old when I saw The first Incredibles at that—though those (positive) feelings may be in a different post yet. As per Pixar standard, however, there was also a short film before the main feature, and it was so lovely, y’all.
It sets itself up typically enough, built as it is on a simple whimsical magical realism premise—a Chinese woman makes a bunch of dumplings for breakfast, but when she is about to eat one of them, the dumpling starts...crying??? Like a baby?! Throwing it out of her mouth, it has a face, and then just as quickly, starts to sprout some legs, some arms, and a body. There’s only one thing to do in a situation like that: Be amused and charmed, and start raising it like your own son.
Cue the hilarious gags galore, and marvel at the fact that Pixar has gotten so insanely good at animating the cooking and presentation of food. The stuff one would expect from a silly little short like this, basically. At some point, however, the plot starts heading towards some tonally unexpected yet totally understandable places; none that I’d wish to spoil, but it started making me feel just slightly weird and was also the moment where Bao starts going from good to great.
Then shortly after that, it goes somewhere far more surprising. And then after that, out of nowhere, I’m starting to tear up. Hell, my eyes are getting glossy even now as I recall this whole enterprise. I’ve been a child, I’ve been my parents’ child more specifically, now I’m an adult, and having been through every single one of these sides, Bao seems like the kind of precision strike meant to specifically destroy me.
It’s great. If not the best thing Pixar has done, then definitely in the upper-most echelons of all their shorts. If you’re seeing The Incredibles 2 in theaters soon enough, make damn sure you’ve got room for this dumpling-shaped gem.
Peep the trailer.