The Blue Umbrella is the stunning short film that is currently playing before Monsters University in theaters. I think it deserves at least partial credit for Monsters taking the top spot at the box office for the second weekend in a row. I know I always make it a point to see any feature in the cinema if I know that there’s an animated short shown before it. For that reason, going to see a Pixar film is always a real treat, even if the feature is Cars 2.
The Blue Umbrella is a quiet short with a sweet soundtrack and an adorable, barely-anthropomorphic hero. The photorealistic animation plays nicely with the subtle humanization of all things in the film’s fantastical city. Everything from the awnings of buildings to the sidewalk itself smiles at our hero umbrella and the rain that meets him.
Many are comparing The Blue Umbrella unfavorably to Paperman, which played before last year’s Wreck-It Ralph. While both feature brilliant applications of both computer and hand-drawn animation, and both stories are sweet examples of love at first sight, I didn’t find myself comparing the two. Though Paperman is definitely the stronger short, The Blue Umbrella does bring its own strengths to the table. Most notably to me is homage. From the second I heard about this film, I hoped that it would be reminiscent of one of my favorite classic Disney shorts. Indeed, it did thematically mimic the extraordinary Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet. Of course, The Blue Umbrella doesn’t have the benefit of the Andrews Sisters performing its theme, but I still found myself rooting for love between fashion accessories once again.
If you haven’t already seen The Blue Umbrella and Monsters University, go now. Pixar’s theatrical releases are the best cinematic experience to be found in theaters today, and these films in particular are a winning combination. Before you go, here’s Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet to whet your appetite: