It’s hard to say goodbye.
In The Rainbow Bridge, Tina (Thu Tran) recognizes that the life of her beloved dog, MeeMoo (Fat Tony) is coming to an end. As a result, she accepts an (expensive) offer to reach out to him one last time at ‘Rainbow Bridge Enterprises’, a mysterious clinic offering human-to-pet communication. Led by Dr. Bailey Picadillo (Heather Lawless) and her partner, Herb (James Urbaniak), the duo offer clients the opportunity to meet their pets on the ethereal plane to truly connect, even if it seems like a scam. But, with Tina, they believe they’ve found a bond truly worth exploring and their device triggers a journey across time and space in the most fantastical of ways.
Directed by Dimitri Simakis, The Rainbow Bridge is a bonkers and hilarious tribute to the love we carry for our beloved pets. Wild colour schemes, over-the-top characters and a massive blue dog puppet are just par for the course for Simakis who truly wants to immerse his audience into the realm of the bizarre. (In fact, in many ways, the short seems to lovingly borrow from famed Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in its style and antics.)
But, underneath the madness, this Bridge does cross over into some deeper thematic territory. Like the other clients who reach out to Rainbow Bridge Enterprises, Tina’s deepest longing is to have the opportunity to say goodbye to the animal that has meant so much to her. For Tina, the loss of MeeMoo means the loss of a trusted friend and she yearns to have one final heart-to-heart. While the context is otherworldly in nature, this taps into the challenges of grief after losing someone you love.
For many, grief is an extremely difficult and uncomfortable topic to discuss but Simakis is fearless. Although the non-stop silliness makes the film seem frivolous, Tina’s personal journey towards healing begins with her ability to face the pain of her loss. Amidst the wild special effects and performances, Simakis never shies away from the challenges of these moments. And that’s what makes this trip over the Rainbow Bridge truly unique. There’s actual beauty in its willingness to step into the hard conversations, even if they may be doused with pastel colours.
The Rainbow Bridge is available at Sundance 2024.