Coming out is one of the most terrifyingly great things anyone on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum can do in their life.
Terrifying because you are exposing yourself in such a massively vulnerable way that there is really no way to head anything off at the pass – you simply have to go with what happens and ride that hugely emotional way to whoever it lands.
But great, because when it’s done, good or bad, and usually (but not always sadly) there’s more of the former than the latter, you feel the weight of years of hiding your self and endless existential sleight-of-hand slip away and you can finally breathe, laugh and LIVE again.
It’s an incredible chaotic mix of emotions that “Out” by Steven Clay Hunter, part of the SparkShorts series from Pixar – animators at the studio are given six months and a limited budget to tell a story special to them – captures perfectly and magically in ways that will make you gasp in recognition if you have ever been a part of a coming out process.
And that’s whether you are the one stepping proudly, if tremulously, out from the closet, or the person who is the recipient of the big reveal; with nuance and huge amount of insightful heart, “Out” shows what it’s like to be fearful but excited, hopeful but despairing, worried but joyful.
It makes sense that Pixar would absolutely nail this since they have a glorious track record of telling rich and wonderful stories in a magically transportive way that cut right through to the heart of the matter in the most affecting of ways.
Think films like Inside Out, UP and Coco, and shorts like Bao and Lava, all of which displayed endless imaginative flair and powerful storytelling nous while expressing a depth of emotions that collectively took our breath away.
Now Hunter, who is known for animating scenes in Finding Nemo and WALL-E, has brought this same authentic, truthful spirit to the story of Greg (Kyle McDaniel) who is head over heels with his boyfriend Manuel (Caleb Cabrera) and is about to move in with him, ushering in a new life for them both.
In the middle of packing to move, with all the chaos, physical and emotional this entails, Greg’s warmly-expressive mother (Bernadette Sullivan) and taciturn father turn up to help, with no warning, sending Greg into a flurry of panic as he realises the time has come, with gentle, loving prodding from Manuel, to come out to his parents.
The knowing is the easy part, the doing is the harder part, and it really only comes about when a magical dog and cat come along and provide the extra spark needed to help Greg’s big reveal along.
It’s immensely creative, beautiful, affecting and joyously, colourfully rendered storytelling that captures every last element of what it feels like to put your heart and soul on the line so completely that you’re not sure what you’ll do if someone runs over them, and then to come out the other side and realise life will never the same again in the bets of all ways.
“Out” is a joy, another sterling entry in Pixar’s pantheon of heartfelt animated storytelling that reminds how good it is to be yourself, and that even if it’s scary getting there, it is absolutely worth the nerve-wracking journey. (Oh, and watch all the way to end of the credits; you’re welcome.)