Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Saluting Homer’s new corporate overlords

Any fan of Pixar is well aware that when you go see a Pixar movie in the theater, you’re going to start by watching a Pixar short. Pixar shorts are usually masterpieces in and of themselves. (See our reviews for the SparkShorts films Loop, Float, and Purl.) But Onward doesn’t have a Pixar short. Instead, Onward is preceded by a short called Playdate with Destiny, starring Maggie Simpson! It’s the first theatrical sign of Disney’s acquisition of Fox, and specifically of The Simpsons, which can be streamed on Disney+.

Playdate with Destiny is a cute film, and follows a lot of the best tropes of Pixar shorts: it’s largely silent, features very few characters, tells a tight story, and has a whole lotta heart. This is Maggie’s story, through and through, which makes it easy to have zero dialogue. Maggie meets and falls in love with Hudson, and the two share a whirlwind romance of sharing champagne and strawberries (which are really a water fountain and sand). When Maggie thinks that she will never see Hudson again, she takes drastic measures to find him as he leaves on a train. The two are about to share a kiss, but they trade pacifiers instead. Cute.

The short is adorable. It’s crisp and clean, well animated, and looks terrific. (Personally, I love the rough hand drawn Simpsons of 1989. I used to watch the original Simpsons shorts in between skits on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. Bonus trivia: Tracey Ullman voices the pawn shop owner in Onward.) Maggie's story is engaging and compelling in all the best Simpsons ways. The humor is a little lacking, though there are some clever bits when Maggie uses her imagination, and getting drunk on baby formula reminds me of my caffeine addiction caused by that most sinful of addictive drinks, Diet Dr. Pepper. Ultimately, The Simpsons is a great addition to the Disney family, and Playdate with Destiny shows a fresh and promising future for the classic comedy powerhouse, The Simpsons.

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