The views expressed in this review are solely those of the reviewer and do not necessarily represent the views of WDWNT.
Today on Disney+, PIXAR released “OUT”, a short film part of their Sparkshort’s series. It was written and directed by Steven Clay Hunter, an animator who worked on 3-D animation projects starting from Disney’s Hercules, all the way up to the recent Toy Story 4. The short follows the story of Greg, a man living with his boyfriend Manuel, and their dog. Greg still has not told his parents that he is gay, however, on moving day, his parents have just shown up. Spoilers will be at the bottom of the article clearly marked, but for now, I’ll say some wacky shenanigans occur which resulted in a fun, heartwarming, and still-funny short film, that I greatly enjoyed.
This reviewer went into the short with apprehension. Disney has not had a fantastic track record of openly gay characters in their films and animation. However, this short certainly won me over with its unique animation style, expressive characters, and the strange, yet fun direction the short took. I had originally thought it would be the same story of trying to come out to your parents that many independent animators have done before, however there is a strange twist on it that defied my expectations of it, and did something new. I went into watching this assuming we wouldn’t see the characters kissing or showing affection, or that the boyfriend would not even show up on screen, but I was pleasantly wrong about all of that.
– SPOILERS START –
The short begins, oddly enough, with a magical cat and dog transporting into this world through a rainbow filled with techno club music. I know, it’s an incredibly odd way to start, and it genuinely threw me off with how odd it was, but I was already laughing. They project some kind of magical ball into Greg’s dog, which later in the story causes Greg and the dog to switch bodies. So as Greg’s parents are helping him pack his belongings, in the dog body, Greg is trying to hide certain items, most notably the photo of Greg and Manuel together, but also gag items like a Firemen calendar. It was a wonderful joke, but also a very adult-type joke that had me laughing and starting to love the film.
The real heartwarming moment comes when Greg’s mother finds the photo, and dog-Greg stops her from looking at it, by almost biting her arm. “This hurts,” she says to dog-Greg, not knowing it’s really Greg. She confides to their dog that it hurts to see Greg move far away, but says “someday you’ll find someone who loves you as much as we do. I just hope that whoever it is, that he makes you happy.” implying the mother knew he was gay this whole time. After a transformation back to his own body, Greg finally comes out to his parents off-screen, however we get a lovely moment where Manuel meets the father and they share a big hug. There’s even an after-credits scene where the parents are enjoying the same techno club music on the radio.
– SPOILERS END –
Every attempt up until now to be inclusive to LGBTQ+ characters has felt shoehorned or drummed up for publicity. Disney had stated that the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast would feature its first openly-gay character in LeFou played by Josh Gad. The only reference at all to this in the film was LeFou dancing with a man, who was in a dress for an embarrassing purpose, and looking at each other for half a second.
More recently, Onward was said to have an LGBTQ+ character, which ended up being a minor female character who offhandedly says they have a wife. We never see this character, their wife of daughter, and it’s never brought up again.
There has been some positive strides in this reviewers opinion. Creator of “Gravity Falls” Alex Hirsch said in a Reddit AMA in regards to including queer characters that he “would LOVE to, but I doubt they’d ever let me do it in kids TV. But man, I would if I could.” This was back in 2014, but by the show’s season finale in 2016, the show was allowed to reveal that Deputy Durland and Sheriff Blubs were in love with each other.
The Disney Channel show “Andi Mack” released its second season in 2017, with one of the main characters, Cyrus, coming out as gay to his friends throughout the season, and in Season 3 beginning a relationship with another character. Personally, I watched these scenes, and they are pretty real, emotional, and have heart behind them, thanks to former Lizzie McGuire showrunner Terri Minsky, who also created this show.
OUT begins by saying it’s “based on a true story”, and I can believe it. I too found myself very afraid to come out to my friends and family, given the negative stereotypes of gay characters coming out that the media had been portraying up until 2008. I was fortunate to be met with the same open arms and love that Greg and Manuel had in the short, and I’m glad this one exists to show kids or adults alike that there is more than just the formula we’ve seen up until now, adding an other worldly twist and wonderful art style. The internet has already taken to making fan-art and spreading the love around, and I couldn’t be happier with how well this short was made.
I only hope that future Disney projects with queer characters such as the upcoming Jungle Cruise film, are handled in the same respectable manner. Though up until this point, Jack Whitehall is neither credited on the poster of the film, or said a single word in any of the trailers. He’s supposed to be Emily Blunt’s brother with a rather serious coming out scene. Plus the movie got delayed yet again, now we have to wait even longer. Okay, rant over.
What did you think of the short? Do you have any suggestions of other great LGBTQ+ positive shows or movies? Any feedback or questions can be directed to me at [email protected] anytime.