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Elemental

Elemental (subtitled Forces of Nature in some countries) is a 2023 American computer-animated romantic comedy-drama film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Directed by Peter Sohn and produced by Denise Ream, it was written by Sohn, John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, and Brenda Hsueh, with Pete Docter serving as executive producer. The 27th feature film produced by the studio, the film features the voices of Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Catherine O'Hara. Set in a world inhabited by anthropomorphic elements of nature, the story follows fire element Ember Lumen (Lewis) and water element Wade Ripple (Athie), who meet and fall in love after Wade is summoned by a plumbing accident at a convenience store owned by Ember's father, Bernie (Del Carmen).

Following the release of The Good Dinosaur (2015), Sohn began working on the project. He pitched the concept of Elemental to Pixar based on the idea of whether fire and water could ever connect or not. Elemental draws inspiration from Sohn's youth, growing up as the son of immigrants in New York City during the 1970s, highlighting the city's distinct cultural and ethnic diversity while the story is inspired by romantic films like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Moonstruck (1987), and Amélie (2001). For research, the production team spent many hours watching point-of-view city tours on YouTube like Venice and Amsterdam for inspiration. The animation tools were utilized to design the visual effects and appearance of each character, particularly Ember and Wade. Production on Elemental lasted for seven years, both in the studio and at the filmmakers' homes with the story being finished remotely. Thomas Newman composed and conducted the film's original score, marking his fourth collaboration with Pixar after Finding Nemo (2003), WALL-E (2008), and Finding Dory (2016). With a budget of $200 million, it is one of the most expensive animated films ever made.

Plot[]

Fire elements Bernie and Cinder Lumen immigrate to Element City where they face xenophobia from other elements and struggle to find a home. Eventually, after Ember's birth, they build their own convenience store called the Fireplace, setting up a Blue Flame. Years later, Ember grows up working in the shop with Bernie, who intends to give her the store once he retires, but first she must control her fiery temper. One day, when Bernie allows Ember to run the shop on her own, she becomes overwhelmed by the customers and rushes to the basement. Her fiery outburst breaks a water pipe, flooding the basement and summoning Wade Ripple, a water element and city inspector, who notes the faulty plumbing and reluctantly leaves for City Hall to send the violation report to his air element employer, Gale Cumulus, who will have the Fireplace shut down. Ember pursues Wade but fails to stop him.

Wade brings Ember to Cyclone Stadium, to convince Gale to reconsider the shutdown of her father's store. Wade mentions to Ember that he was investigating a leak in the city's canals before ending up at the Fireplace, and offers to Gale that he and Ember can track the source of the leak from the store. Gale gives the duo a tight deadline; if they are able to find and seal the leak, then the violations will be forgiven. While searching the canals, they discover a hole in a dam that allows wave runoff from ships to flood the city's plumbing, so they close the hole with sandbags.

Wade and Ember spend time together in the city and learn more about each other. Later, Wade informs Ember that the sandbags did not hold, so Ember uses her glassmaking ability to create a sturdier seal for the hole in the dam. Meanwhile, Cinder suspects Ember is seeing someone and follows her. Ember visits Wade's family at a luxury apartment, where she uses her fire to fix a broken glass pitcher, impressing Wade's mother Brook, who recommends her for a glassmaking internship. Ember also plays the crying game with Wade, in which he successfully makes her cry when he admits he has feelings for her. Gale then calls Wade and gives her approval of Ember's glass seal, thus saving the Fireplace from closure. Ember then realizes that she does not want to take over the store.

Bernie announces his intention to retire and hand the Fireplace to Ember. He tells Ember how, when leaving his homeland, he bowed to his father but his father refused to bow back. The next evening, Wade takes Ember to Garden Central Station to see Vivisteria flowers, which she was denied seeing in childhood. With the station now flooded, Gale provides Ember with an air bubble for safety while Wade pushes her underwater through the station. Afterward, Wade and Ember realize that they are able to touch without harming each other and share a romantic dance, but Ember is reminded of her duty to the Fireplace and her family's prejudice against water elements, causing her to break up with Wade.

While Ember is about to take over the Fireplace during a party, Wade appears and declares his love for her, while also accidentally revealing that she caused the broken pipe. Ember rejects Wade, but Cinder senses genuine affection. Disappointed, Bernie decides not to retire and denies Ember the store. Ember then runs away in anger and sadness. Soon after, the new seal on the dam breaks and the fire district floods. After saving the Blue Flame, Ember and Wade become trapped in a room in the Fireplace, causing Wade to evaporate from the enclosed heat. After the flood recedes, a grief-stricken Ember confesses to Bernie that she does not want to run the Fireplace and expresses her love for Wade. Realizing Wade has seeped into the stone ceiling, Ember plays the crying game to get him to drip back into his normal form, Ember and Wade embrace and share a kiss.

Months later, Wade and Ember, now a couple, leave Element City so Ember can study glassmaking and travel the world together. Before she boards the ship, Ember bows to Bernie, who returns the gesture.

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