Disney and LGBTQ+ theme content has not always been positive. The “Love, Simon” spin-off was shipped off to Hulu instead of Disney+ due to feeling that it wouldn’t appropriate for families to watch with their children. While I rolled my eyes hard at this, their subsidiary Pixar produced an LGBTQ+ for their short film series on Disney+ streaming platform just in time for Pride month.
“Out” is a nine-minutes short written and directed by Steven Hunter, who is best known for animating “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E.” It’s the first Disney and Pixar movie to feature a gay main character and on-screen same-sex kiss. The short is apart of Pixar’s “SparkShorts” series on Disney+. The series is a program present by Pixar employees where they have six months and a limited budget to produce short films. These short films are personal and based on personal experiences. “SparkShorts” and the program was created to produced new filmmakers.
“It’s somewhat based on my coming-out story, and yet it’s nothing like my coming-out story,” Steven told Entertainment. Weekly, “I was trying to make a film for my 17-year-old queer self, the guy who needed to see something of himself in a film,”
The film follows Greg as he and his boyfriend Manuel are boxing up Greg’s home for a move. Greg’s parents surprise him by showing up at his doorstep. Greg hides his life with Manuel as Manuel leaves through the backdoor due to him not being out with his parents. As he tries to keep his parents from finding out that he’s gay, he and his dog end up switching places due to a magical cat and dog.
This film is adorable. When I first watched it, I wasn’t too sure about it because of Disney’s past with LGBTQ+. The story is something that hit homes for everyone LGBTQ+ has to deal with – Coming out. It deals with it sweetly. Because it’s an animated film, the director was able to take a different approach to the coming out theme. We have never seen a “Freaky Friday” take to it. I mean, there are not that many films to deal with coming out, but that is beside the point.
My biggest complaint with it isn’t with the content of the film but rather how it sugar-coated for Disney. The film has a PG rating. The rating is because of the fact two men kiss in the movie. I don’t see how why parent guidance would be needed just because of the kiss. There are many worse animated things that Disney has on Disney+ than two men kissing. Frankly, the film is more of a G rating.
The PG rating just perpetuates the notion that being LGBTQ+ isn’t right. You don’t need to have a conversation with your kids about being gay unless they are. It’s not something you need to talk about like it’s a lesson. Now if they are being homophobic, then that is something that needs to be addressed. But treating two people of the same gender as something parents need to discuss with their children is wrong. While Disney made a step in the right direction with “Out,” the rating isn’t.
There is also a pacing issue with the film. It is trying to get much information and tell the store in under 10 minutes. The film starts well, and then it kind of rushes in the middle and once Greg switches bodies with his dog. It is not a big pacing issue, but it seemed like they wanted to spend more time with Greg in his dog’s body but ran out of time and had to wrap it up. I also want to know more about the magical dog and cat. That was just random. There is probably no meaning behind them besides just being a plot device to how Greg and his dog traded bodies.
“Out” is an excellent short film that I think everyone needs to watch, whether they are LGBTQ+ or not. It is just a sweet film that we need more of it in the media. I hope that Disney and Pixar do more LGBTQ+ movies/series, only without the slightly problematic rating. I do wish that the film was longer because it has a slight pacing issue. “Out” is currently available only on Disney+
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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