When fire met water

It kind of makes me sad. Pixar’s movies were once a revelation; animated masterpieces on a variety of original themes that were universally entertaining. They never made anything that was short of excellent. They reached your heart. Until they sold out to Disney, and these days the studio’s output is hit or miss. 

And up there with its greatest misses is this odd clunker. It takes place in a world inhabited by four coexisting “races,” based on the ancient Greek perception of the world being made up entirely of fire, water, earth and air. Of course, on an, ahem, elemental level, these four types cannot mix.

The thin yet overcomplicated story centers on a fiery young fire person named Ember who realizes (rather abruptly) that there’s good, um, chemistry between herself and an endearing water person named Wade. Of course, they cannot be together or even touch (or can they?). Further, she is being seriously groomed by her loving, well-meaning father to take over the family shop.

By the first half hour you’ll start seeing on the horizon all the predictable “just be yourself” and “follow your heart” messages that Disney so loves. And while the movie gets points for briefly addressing immigration intolerance, it’s neither Pixar funny nor at all exciting. It’s gorgeously rendered though. Kids will love and immediately forget all the light, color and motion. But it will bore the socks off parents. (101 min)