Whatever your thinking about the merits of streaming platforms or production studios holding big, bold splashy all-day events to herald their upcoming shows and movies – crass commercialism or a tantalising glimpse into an eagerly awaited future? – the just-staged inaugural Disney+ Day 2021 was worth its existence alone for the short but exquisitely emotional delights of Ciao Alberto, a mini-sequel of sorts to the transcendent delights of Luca, one of the best films, animated or otherwise, of this year.
The short follows the events of the film – SPOILERS AHEAD! – where Luca (Jacob Tremblay) goes off to school in the big city with Giulia (Emma Berman) and orphan Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), who has found a home with the epically taciturn fisherman Massimo (Marco Barricelli), is doing his best to fit into his new home.
Alberto, who is still corresponding with friend-for-life Luca, hence the title of the short, is going all out to wow Massimo whom he seems to regard as an employer more than an adoptive dad; alas everything he tries to do comes a-cropper with Alberto seemingly more of a hindrance than a help to the giant-sized man mountain.
It seems as if the new arrangements aren’t going well at all, with Alberto distraught that Massimo, who never reacts or talks to his new young charge, doesn’t seem to like him.
You can feel your heart starting to slowly be pulled from your chest at this point – all Alberto wants, all anyone wants is unconditional love and acceptance but all he seems to get are silence or grunts of disapproval.
That is, until a seemingly career-ending event takes place, one that looks for all the world like it will ruin Massimo’s livelihood and make Alberto a loveless orphan all over again, goes in a wholly different direction and your heart flies from your chest, awash in the sea of thousand feelings all at once that Pixar seems brilliantly able to conjure up every single time.
Ciao Alberto is a beautifully wrought story of love and acceptance that explores what it is like for two people from different worlds, each nursing their own hopes and expectations, to come together and how, in a world where we expect fairytales to fix everything thanks to some powerful storytelling constants from yes, the likes of Disney and others, often what is needed for lasting happiness is honesty and hard work.
This wondrously good short gives us so much sadness and joy, so much distress and fulfilment, that it feels like a perfect slice of life piece of storytelling, reassuring heartwarming and yet real enough that the ending, which you cannot help but love, feels like everything you ever wanted or needed.
Ciao Alberto, another short and sweet triumph from Pixar, is currently streaming on Disney+.
There is a joyous innocence to Baymax, the robotic protagonist of Big Hero 6 who proved conclusively in that emotive and clever 2014 film (and the 2018 series of the same name) that he is far more than simply the sum of his admittedly sophisticated empathetic programming. Just how much he is that warm and cuddly 0s and 1s will likely become heart-tuggingly clear in Baymax! which bows in the northern summer of 2022 and the trailer for which bowed on the inaugural Disney+ Day on 12 November. Be prepared to laugh and feel like you’re back with your best friend!