BAO is a Pixar animated short film. It tells the story of a lonely mother who is going through empty nest syndrome. But at dinner one night, one of her dumplings sprouts limbs and a face… and it comes to life. The dumpling acts like a baby, and the woman is quick to take care of it. The short shows the dumpling growing older, and the inevitable heartbreak that comes with children finally outgrowing their home.
One of the most incredible things about BAO is that the entire story is communicated without a single line of dialogue. There are a lot of laughs to be found here – not because of the absurdity of a dumpling come to life, but simply through the innocence that the short conveys. But BAO is an emotional journey, and the lack of dialogue heightens those feelings as the dumpling prepares to leave home. We don’t just see the mother’s desperation to keep her son at home… we feel it. But in sadness, there is also happiness. The ending of BAO is the perfect way to close the story – with a feeling of happiness, a twinge of sadness, and the acknowledgement that life always goes on.
BAO is a really special. It’s got plenty of physical humor that will leave all ages laughing. It will also leave adults misty-eyed as the short reaches its ending – coming to terms with children growing up is not an easy topic to portray, but BAO makes it work effortlessly. It also doesn’t hurt that BAO is beautifully animated. When the dumpling first comes to life, my heart melted.
As far as animated shorts go, BAO is one of the best.