Piper is the short film from Pixar debuting in theaters today before Finding Dory. It is wordless, but in just six minutes it speaks volumes about parenting and all kinds of hot-button topics today. I loved the conversations that Piper generated with my teen.
Piper tells that story of a hungry sandpiper hatchling who ventures from her nest for the first time to dig for food by the shoreline. The only problem is, the food is buried beneath the sand where scary waves roll up onto the shore. Here are eight reasons to love Piper:
1. Entitled behavior gets the little one nowhere.
Piper's mama seems to feel that she shouldn't do anything for her baby that her baby can do on her own. Bravo, mama bird! It's possible I leaned over in my seat and made sure my teen was really getting what was happening. I probably shouldn't have.
Here's a brief clip from the film that shows Piper's mom literally nudging her to get to work finding food:
2. The mama bird lets her child figure things out, even when it's not easy.
Big fan of kids learning on their own? Tired of helicopter parenting? This is the short film for you!
Not everything goes smoothly for Piper when mom isn't doing everything for her. No spoilers, but when young ones are figuring things out on their own, there are bound to be a few bumps along the way.
3. Other parents don't judge.
Piper and her mama are members of a large flock of birds. When Piper encounters some rough seas, the other avian parents don't criticize Piper's mom. There's no evidence of any judgment. Perhaps they were whispering quietly to themselves off screen, but I'll take that over the public shaming that seems to be so prevalent these days.
It's hard to tell in a wordless short film, but I'm pretty sure this community of birds believes in the "you do you" philosophy.
4. Perception is not always reality.
In one scene, Piper's view is altered by her fear. Sometimes our feelings lie to us, and I loved that this part of the film started a great conversation with my teen about how our perception is sometimes quite different from the reality. We talked about things we were scared of that turned out to be far less frightening than we first anticipated.
5. Our challenges can be our greatest opportunities.
We grow and learn so much more when the going gets tough than when we're strolling down Easy Street. It seems that our kids are more likely to believe this when they hear it from people like Olympian Nastia Liukin or see it happen to an adorable bird on the big screen. What was once hard for Piper eventually becomes a source of joy and satisfaction.
6. The perspective of others can be invaluable.
In Piper, one species helps out another and shares some very key information. A little crab saw things that Piper and other birds could not, and Piper's willingness to follow the lead of her new friend worked out well. Also, the little crab wisely recognized that sharing knowledge didn't diminish it.
7. Helping your community feels good.
The other birds benefit from Piper's learning experience, and Piper is happy to share.
8. It's beautifully animated and a visual treat.
"I didn't know it wasn't animated!" That's what the person sitting behind me said when the first shot of the waves rolling up on the shore appeared on the screen. It really does look like a live-action film.
Life lessons and great story aside, the animation is amazing. It's visually stunning. The character of Piper in particular is simply adorable. I've seen the film twice and each time Piper got a big "awwwww" the first time she appeared on screen.
I love Pixar shorts, but Piper, directed by Alan Barillaro, is particularly endearing. You'll be cheering, and chirping, for Piper.
You May Also Like:Our family review of and fun facts about Finding Dory
Prior Post: Why teaching kids empathy is so important, and the book that shows your how
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A simple little sketch this one: two office workers spend their days next to one another but hardly say a word. An affectionate gesture (a smiley face made out of Post-It notes) starts a relationship between the two of them that consists of more of the same, with each of them trying to outdo the other in terms of creativity.
The concept is simple and is nicely summed up by the title, but although very short and slight, the film does work because of how sweet it is. The two actors manage to have a certain amount of chemistry between them despite the lack of words. In particular Charity Wakefield is strong – and I specifically liked the close-up on her eyes in the stationary cupboard. Ingleby didn't strike me as the right person for the role, even though he did do well – perhaps I am biased because I always think of his small role in Spaced when I look at him.
The direction and the creation of the Post-It art is cheery and upbeat; I liked the camera being part of the unspoken flirting between the two – quick glimpses, sharp edits, nothing too fancy. The one thing I thought could have been done better was perhaps the music; I found it too cheesy for the film and it actually knocked some of the charm out of the film for me due to how obvious it was. Despite that though, at three minutes long, this little short film is charming enough to carry the idea off.