Not since 2018’s “Bao” has a Pixar animated short caused such a stir, and in the case of “Out,” the more attention it gets, the better. The 9-minute film, released May 22 through the Disney+ SparkShorts series, tells the story of Greg, who moves in with his boyfriend, Manuel. Things get complicated when Greg’s parents arrive at his doorstep to lend a hand — they don’t know Greg is gay.
Luckily, a couple of magical pets — a dog and a cat who arrive on a rainbow — have a solution. With their help, Greg switches bodies with his dog, Jim. Then, in his new canine form, he tries to hide all evidence of his relationship from his mom. Ultimately, this proves to Greg that he has nothing to worry about, and teaches him the importance of being true to himself.
“Out,” which is written and directed by Steven Clay Hunter and produced by Max Sachar, is Pixar’s first feature with an openly gay character in a central role. Their movie “Onward,” released earlier this year, has an LGBTQ character in the form of the cyclops cop Officer Spector, who talks about her girlfriend. And in last year’s “Toy Story 4,” two mothers drop off and pick up their daughter from a day care center in the background. But “Out” gives a gay character the leading role, showing that Pixar recognizes that on-screen representation matters.
On the Pixar website, president Jim Morris said the SparkShorts program sought “to discover new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques and experiment with new production workflows.”
“These films are unlike anything we’ve ever done at Pixar, providing an opportunity to unlock the potential of individual artists and their inventive filmmaking approaches on a smaller scale than our normal fare,” he added.
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) May 21, 2020
The Disney+ social media accounts were awash with feedback.
“Baby steps but this is a good start. Actually kinda proud of you guys for this one,” wrote one Twitter users, while another thanked Disney “for recognizing people as people.”
For one fan, “Out” was “the last push” she needed to sign up for a Disney+ account. “I might be the last person on earth to join, but I’m super excited to watch this and hopefully see similar content in the future!” she wrote.
The next step has to be an openly LGBTQ character in a leading role in a full-length feature. Come on, Pixar – you can do it!