Pixar Lava

Disney Pixar

It’s still nearly a year away, but Pixar wants you to meet the smiling earth pimple who will sing his way into your heart. Lava will play in front of Inside Out in June 2015, and it features two volcanoes in love. If IMDB is to be trusted, it also takes place over millions of years (most likely lived in land-bound, cloud-envying frustration).

On its own, the teaser trailer is sweet and lightweight with some excellent time-lapse-aping visuals, but as yet another sign of Pixar’s return to originality and experimentation, it’s also a mountain-sized sigh of relief.

Uku (singing in Kuana Torres Kahele‘s unmistakable voice) sings a song that’s essentially “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with different lyrics that still have the same wishful meaning. He wants someone to wrap his foliage-covered arms around. Check it out for yourself:

Obviously looking to an unmovable object as the source of longing provides a lot of challenges, but it also presents fertile ground for the kind of wordless humanity Pixar has excelled at thus far in their shorts and in the opening segment from Up. What could tug more naturally on the heart than figures with big emotions who can’t receive the total force of that happiness?

Long distance relationships are tough.

The concept reminds me a lot of what Dutch animator Edwin Schaap did a few years ago with trees. In Rooted, the two arboreal lovers found themselves a few feet apart and a million miles from where they wanted to be. It’ll be interesting to see if there are tonal similarities (specifically because there can’t be too broad a range of things to do with stationary characters) between the separated and passionate figures in both stories. Here’s a look at what I mean:

It’s a fair bet that Lava will have a happier ending than that, but the heart of both stories may likely be in the same place. Granted, it’s a theme that’s been explored with humans — from Doctor Who to Lost to just about every war romance ever created — for years. Whenever you show two people (or things) who can’t be together for huge stretches of time, a hug becomes an atom bomb.

Simply put, plan to bring tissues to the theater next June.

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