“SparkShorts,” the Pixar Animation Studios short film series designed to discover new storytellers and explore new storytelling techniques, debuted “Nona,” its newest offering, on Disney+ September 17.
The story of a rather unusual grandma forced to choose between two of her most beloved things in the world — her 5-year-old granddaughter and her favorite television program — “Nona,” as directed by Louis Gonzalez, warms the heart while teaching gentle lessons about compromise and dealing with the unexpected.
The eight-minute story is a simple and universally appealing one. Nona is looking forward to spending a day alone, reveling in the unique joys of “Smashdown Wrestling.” These plans are abruptly changed for her when her daughter drops off little Renee, who expects her grandmother to play with and entertain her.
Most of us have experienced the frustration of thwarted plans, and Nona’s reaction is highly relatable. Likewise, we can recall a time as children when we felt the adults in our lives were ignoring us when we really wanted their attention most.
What’s really charming about this short is that the story is told without words — and in actuality none are really necessary. The affection between the characters is clear in the facial expressions and body language alone — and just how the animators are able to convey that so easily is really impressive.
Without giving away too much more of the plot, let’s just say that after several comical confrontations, the two reach a compromise that serves to fulfill both characters’ wishes in a way that somehow exceeds what they had originally hoped for.
Known for his pre-Pixar work on the animated classic, “Iron Giant,” first-time director Gonzalez has also worked as a story artist on “Incredibles 2,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Brave” among other projects. In “Nona,” he pulls from his own experiences (“Nona” is based on his grandmother Pearl, while young “Renee” was inspired by his daughter Lola) to imbue the characters with a genuine warmth that makes them feel special and real.
Don’t miss “Nona” for a short shot of positivity that will leave you feeling good long after you’ve watched it.
Also of interest: Today, September 24, Disney+ takes an intimate look at Pixar’s SparkShorts filmmaking process with the debut of the documentary, “A Spark Story.” The film shows what went on behind the scenes during the making of both “Nona” and “Twenty Something,” which premiered on Disney+ earlier this month.
You can see a trailer for “Nona” and “Twenty Something” below.