The latest short film in Pixar’s experimental program, from writer and director Steven Clay Hunter, is entitled Out. You may be wondering if it really is referring to coming out — especially given Pixar’s track record of making LGBTQ characters with lines that are easily editable. The answer to that is: yes, Out is all about one man coming out to his family.
Pixar’s SparkShorts program, which highlights talent from across the company, has brought us a foul-mouthed ball of pink yarn battling workplace sexism, the studio’s first non-verbal autistic character, and an Academy Award-nominated pitbull and kitten pairing.
Out starts with a sparkly purple cat and a shiny pink dog descend from the sky via rainbow sending a bolt of magical glittery energy to a small dog named Jim. From there, the short follows Greg, a gay man who is moving from an unspecified small town to an unspecified big city. While helping Greg pack, his boyfriend Manuel finds a cute picture of the two of them that Greg stashed away in a drawer. Greg, it turns out, hasn’t come out to his parents. Part of the reason he wants to move away is that he feels a big city will be more accepting of his sexuality. He promises Manuel that one day he’ll tell them... just not yet.
And then his parents show up at the door.
Greg immediately yeets Manuel out of there, but before he can do any damage control, he and Jim the dog switch bodies. Hilarity ensues as Greg in his dog’s body tries to prevent his parents from finding out he’s gay. Meanwhile, dog in Greg’s body does dog stuff like sniffing butts and chasing squirrels. But since this is a Pixar short, there is also a great deal of heart.
While Pixar has had some one-note queer characters (a blink-and-you’ll-miss it couple in Finding Dory and a cop with one throwaway line in Onward), Out features the studio’s first leading gay character and focuses entirely on his experience, which is apparently based on a true story (though probably without the dog-and-human body swapping). Given the fate of Love, Victor (a follow-up to Love, Simon booted from Disney Plus to Hulu for “adult themes”) it’s a notable step up in representation for both Pixar and Disney Plus. Now let’s see it in a theatrical release.
Out is available to stream on Disney Plus.
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