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Pixar’s heartwarming romance comedy Elemental made its Disney+ debut on September 13, and if one thing’s for sure, I’ll definitely be watching it again.
by Emery Brown
When the movie was released in theaters this past summer, I had no intention of going to see it. Disney has been putting out some mediocre content for the past while so I was sure that this was going to be the same. On top of that, the movie had received minimal advertising and the only advertising it did receive was cringy. However, my girlfriend Lilly said she saw cute clips of the film on social media so to make her happy, I took her to see it, of course with a large popcorn and Sprite to snack on.
What I got instead was a cute and fun romance comedy that doubled as an immigrant tale. Here, we see Ember Lumen, voiced by Leah Lewis, navigate a city of anthropomorphic air, plant, water, and fire beings, called Element City. Ember is troubled by her father’s expectations for her to inherit the family business, a simple corner store that becomes the unofficial hub of Fire Town, as well as the xenophobia that fire people face in Element City and her anger issues. These anger issues lead to an accidental encounter with Wade Ripple, a water man voiced by Mamoudou Athie, and shortly after, a forbidden romance begins.
The movie’s plot is a simple yet enjoyable one filled with adorable scenes. Both Ember and Wade are very well written, with Ember being very fiery and ambitious, while Wade is more sensitive and go-with-the-flow. Just like the natural opposition between water and fire in real life, it’s fun to see their contrasting personalities mesh together. The personalities of my relationship are the same so there were many moments where Lilly and I would look at each other and make “He/She’s so you,” comments.
The immigrant tale half of the story was modeled after director Peter Sohn’s own experience as a Korean immigrant living in New York City. His father came to the United States with $150 to his name, $75 going to renting an apartment and the other $75 going to renting a hotdog cart. After a while, his family managed to buy a corner store of their own, just like Ember and her family. (NPR.org) "My mother was the cashier and my father kept working this four in the morning 'till 11:00 at night job, seven days a week," said Sohn. This exact scenario can be seen in Elemental.
Visually, the movie looked amazing. Its vibrant colors made the characters pop, and both the settings and the characters had designs that were fun and visually appealing. It isn’t on the level of the Spider-verse franchise, but it’s still very comfortable and nice.
I have very few complaints about the film. My main gripe is with advertising. As stated previously, the film received very little advertising. The only places the film was advertised were as one of the pre-movie trailers that play before the main feature in cinemas or the pathetic attempt at creating a viral meme based on a two-second scene involving a character named Clod, voiced by Mason Wertheimer. Disney tried to turn him into a social media sensation, editing cheering over candid footage of the character’s first appearance, as well as an awful pun he makes that puts an indentation into my forehead with the amount of facepalming it causes. This strategy revealed nothing about the movie. In fact, I had no idea it was an immigrant story until I got into the theaters. This advertising made me not want to see the movie.
Despite this, I find that Elemental is a fun and wholesome adventure that I enjoyed greatly. I would recommend it to anyone who needs something to watch with their kids or who wants something cute and relatable to watch with a partner.
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