Friday, January 17, 2020

Pixar's SparkShort "Loop" is uncomfortable, unique, and amazing!

Oh the tears!

Pixar has become a master at telling heartfelt, touching stories that still remain compelling, authentic, and sometimes even funny. And somehow their stories have reached the widest of audiences, generally appealing to all. Their latest SparkShort, Loop, is no exception. Released January 10, this short seems to be the most experimental, the most different, the most important of all the Pixar shorts.

In just a few minutes, Loop tells the story of Renee (a non-verbal girl with autism) and her canoe trip with Marcus (a teenager who is less than excited to ride in a canoe with somebody who makes odd noises and sits funny). On the short loop around the lake, both teens learn something about each other -- and more importantly, about themselves. And so it is with the audience -- we learn about others and ourselves.

Pixar's last SparkShort, Float (see our review here), dealt with the similar topic of autism and the unique challenges that arise from that condition. Only Float was subtle, allegorical, and more along the lines of fantasy than reality. Loop is different, much like autism itself. Loop gets to the point right away, tells the story directly and in your face, and never shies away from some of the harsh realities -- and beautiful truths -- about a person living with autism.

As a father of a son with autism, and as a middle school teacher in a public school where I have students with autism in almost every class, Float hit me hard. Like, I think about it a lot and I literally have flashes of Float when I interact with those who have autism. But Loop hits home on a deeper level. It feels different, and that’s a good thing. At times Loop is uncomfortable to watch. At time it melted me to a puddle of love and understanding. I felt for the individually different struggles Marcus and Renee are going through, and I yearned for them to each make a connection. And the genius of Loop is that in making me feel all the feels, I yearn to make connections in the real world and to bring a little more light and understanding to my community.

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