Animated movie enthusiasts always look forward to the latest movies from Pixar Studios. Films such as “Ratatouille” (2007) and “Wall-E” (2008) score particularly high in terms of originality and visual ingenuity. The nice thing about Pixar is that they not only launch an hour and a half long animated film with each release, but also an equally successful short. The film “Up” (2009) is accompanied by a hilarious short film called “Partly Cloudy” (2009). Central to this is the friendship between a thundercloud and a stork. The five-minute film was directed by Peter Sohn, who worked as a draftsman and story artist on “Ratatouille”, “The Incredibles” (2004) and “Finding Nemo” (2003). “While I was working on ‘Up’ I took the plunge and asked if I could pitch ideas for shorts. That was allowed, so I came up with three completely different stories. John Lasseter thought one of the three was clearly the best and I got to work that out, ”says Sohn.
“Partly Cloudy” playfully tackles the time-honored question of “where do babies come from,” as we saw earlier in Disney’s classic “Dumbo” (1941). Diligent storks bring those children around, both in the animal and human world. But where do they get those babies from? According to Peter Sohn from the stratosphere. From tufts of fluffy cloud, friendly big clouds make countless babies every day. Gus is one of those clouds, but he only makes dangerous babies. Small alligators for example, or passionate ibexes. Because those animals also have babies. Stork Peck is not so happy with it, because it often gets injured at the hands of these not so cute animals. The friendship between Gus and Peck is put to the test by this situation. The story of “Partly Cloudy” is an extension of the main film “Up”, as is actually the case with all Pixar shorts. The theme of friendship plays a central role in both films and thundercloud Gus, who separates himself from the other clouds, has many similarities with grumpy ass Carl Fredricksen. Incidentally, director Peter Sohn modeled for the boy scout Russell from “Up”!
Like everything that comes from Pixar, “Partly Cloudy” is also great. Sohn and his team have been working on their video for a year and a half and the end result is impressive. For example, special techniques have been used to give the Gus cloud a woolly texture. In addition, it also had to be partly transparent (as in: “foggy”). The figures are drawn quite caricaturally, which, however, makes them endearing. Furthermore, the pastel-colored backgrounds have been worked on in a beautiful way, using light and shadows. Pixar understands the art of entertaining its viewers on three levels: not only are the animations beautiful and extremely ingenious, the films are also full of hilarious fragments. In five minutes you don’t have time for intellectual jokes, but humor at the slapstick level will certainly suffice in this case. The third area on which Pixar hits the nail on the head every time is the underlying themes, in this case friendship, (mis-) communication and jealousy. In this way a miniscule short film gets a deeper dimension. With “Partly Cloudy”, Pixar delivers another impressive business card!