One of the things that Pixar have excelled at over the years has been putting heart into their films. Whether it be a story about misfit toys or monsters learning that humans aren’t evil the studio’s filmmakers have always managed to put a massive amount of emotion into their stories… so much so that many cinema lovers over the years have found that these are animations that can make you cry.

Now comes the latest film from the Pixar stable – Elemental – a film that seems to have a lot of people scratching their heads after watching the trailer. There have been more than a few people utter the words “what did I just watch” when the trailer has been played in cinemas but put those worries aside because Elemental ends up being one of the most heart-warming films of this year.

It is set in a world literally made of the elements. There are Fires, there are Waters, there are Airs and the list goes on. The most despised seems to be the Fires sadly because often when they accidentally run into some other Elements, like Trees, they set them on fire.

Therefore, when married Fires Bernie (voiced by Ronnie Del Carmen – Inside Out) and Cinder (Shila Ommi – Little America) made the move from Fireland to Elemental City they suddenly found themselves shunned to a ‘ghetto’ part of the city with the other Fires. Not to be beaten Bernie claimed an abandoned store and turned it into a General Store called The Fire Place.

Now years later Bernie is getting older and his health isn’t the best. One thought makes him happy though – that his daughter, Ember (Leah Lewis – The Half Of It), will take over the store when he retires. But there are two problems with that idea – first Ember can’t control her temper and when she reaches boiling point, she literally explodes often affecting both the Elements and things around her. The second issue is that Ember has other dreams and running a store is not one of them.

Keen to see how she goes running the store though Bernie places Ember in charge for a day – and the result is disastrous. She ends up blowing up at a customer and the resulting explosion causes so much damage to the shop that a Water named Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie – Jurassic World: Dominion) is sucked through the pipes and finds himself in the basement.

Worse luck for Ember is that Wade happens to be a City Council Inspector and he soon writes up a report on the number of faults he finds with the shop. The report is enough to close the shop and after Ember pleads with Wade and tells him about her family’s situation he instantly regrets the decision.

The race is then on for Wade to try and convince his boss, the tough Gale (Wendi McLendon-Covey – Bridesmaids), not to close the store while he finds himself falling for Ember – a bad situation because he knows Bernie will never accept a relationship made up of both Fire and Water.

Directed by Peter Sohn (The Good Dinosaur) Elemental is actually a pretty smart film that explores the theme of multiculturalism and racism. These are universal themes and the team of writers have brilliantly brought them into this film, with some morals, in such a way where the audience are educated but not preached to.

The film actually goes pretty deep into these themes are it shows the Fires being forced to live in a run-down area of the City and then showing emotional scenes such as Bernie trying to take Ember to see a special plant she wants to see at a exhibition only to be turned away because they are Fire. Yes once again this is a Pixar film that will have you in tears.

If you are expecting this to be a comedy though you will be disappointed. There are very few laughs as this is a film about more serious topics that we face in the real world… and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact Elemental ends up being an entertaining film that people of all ages can learn something wrong.

There is a hint of Romeo and Juliet with the storyline but the characters of Ember and Wade are set up so well that as an audience member you do find yourself barracking for them. Even characters that are times considered enemies to our heroes – Bernie and Gale – at times during the story are written in such a way that you can’t help but like them as well… especially when Bernie’s back story is revealed in the film.

Elemental is certainly one of those films that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Perhaps it doesn’t have the humor that many would expect from a Pixar film but it does have a thought-provoking storyline that explores some pretty deep themes in an entertaining way.

3.5/5 Stars