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Sanjay's Super Team — Different, but Touching

As an animation enthusiast, I jumped at the chance to attend a local, corporate screening of the Animation Show of Shows. It's a traveling collection of animated short films that has the endorsement of several Pixar figures like John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Andrew Stanton. Expecting a delightful evening of creative works from indie artists and small studios, you can imagine my surprise when they announced, without warning, that they'd also be screening Pixar's own Sanjay's Super Team, the short that is set to premier alongside The Good Dinosaur on November 25th.

As is evident from this short clip released by Pixar, the story centers on a young boy's struggle to interest himself in his father's Hindu traditions. It's got the emotional pull that makes Pixar films so compelling — they've got the sad, disappointed face down to a science. But explores some very different visual avenues that we haven't yet seen from Pixar, particularly in the boy's imagination sequence. There's a mix of Indiana Jones, Aladdin and The Incredibles in there somewhere with a glowy, 80s neon flavor and some perspective-bending camera tricks. I found the action sequence to be a bit confusing and less dynamic than the setup led me to expect. But I loved this daring exploration of culture and religion. When little Sanjay finds his own child-like, but respectful form of worship, you feel a glimmer of enlightenment. It's a special moment.

Animation Show of Shows

I really need to say something about the rest of the show too. There were 11 other shorts shown that are among the best works of art in the industry this year. I saw a lot of innovative things I hadn't seen in animation before. There was not a bad film in the mix — I enjoyed every single one. I could write a long article about each of them.

One favorite of mine was Love in the Time of March Madness by Melissa Johnson and Robertson Zombrano, a true story about the Melissa's trouble growing up as a 6'4" woman. I was surprised by this. Typically I fall for more whimsical, colorful shorts. This one was autobiographical and monochromatic. In addition to its beautiful and unique artwork, it resonated a lot with insecurities we wrestle with when pursuing relationships and coming to terms with our unique qualities. Her insights were truly thought provoking, and changed my perception of the way others talk to me.

Check here to see if the show is coming to your area. Sanjay's Super Team is not listed as part of the regular screenings, so it may or may not be included in your showings. Wish I had more information there. But well worth it either way.