It’s not unusual for me to go to a Disney/Pixar animation film and be more impressed with the short that plays before the feature than the feature itself. That is certainly true of Lou, which plays before Cars 3. I thought Cars 3 was very well done with important ideas. But still, Lou was better. (I’m not alone in this assessment. When I checked the IMDB scores, Lou was more than a full point higher than Cars 3.) The film is written and directed by Dave Mullins, a long-time animator and animation supervisor for Pixar, now getting his first writing and directing credits.
On a school playground, a bully named J.J. terrorizes other children, stealing their most precious possessions. Little does he know that there is a monster living in the Lost and Found box, made up of all the lost and stolen articles that have been collected. That Lost and Found creature comes to life and stops J.J. It even knows that his teddy bear is in the box from when he was bullied. He teaches J. J. an important lesson about sharing and respect of others.
While the story seems simple enough, it is actually a serious look at redemption. As J. J. does what’s needed to earn back his teddy bear, he is changed by the process. On one level, this might be seen as salvation by works, i.e., he gets his reward for doing what he needs to do. But there is a grace that fills the tone of the story. The real reward that J. J. receives is not his teddy bear, but the understanding that he can be a better person, and in so doing find an acceptance he has never felt.
All of this in just six minutes. That is the wonder of shorts. They are often overlooked, but as with Lou, they can carry a powerful message in a concise package.