After a terrible storm destroys their home in Fire Land, Bernie (Ronnie Del Carmen) and Cinder (Shila Ommi) set sail hoping to find a safe place where they can raise their daughter, Ember (Leah Lewis). They struggle to find a place to stay as no one will rent to ‘fire people’. Eventually they come across a derelict building that they are able to buy. Over the years, the building becomes more than just a shop and a home but a central meeting point for people in the fire community. Ember is being trained to take over the shop and she does everything perfectly except control her rage, which often gets the better of her when she is dealing with customers.
One day while trying to restrain herself in front of the shoppers, Ember disappears to the basement to unleash her fury and is suddenly confronted by a series of terrible leaks. There she meets city inspector Wade (Mamoudou Athie) who bursts out of one of the pipes and subsequently discovers numerous infringements. Wade sets off for City Council and Ember, who has never left Fire Town, follows him in the hope she can convince him not to shut down her father’s shop. Touched by Ember’s story, Wade decides to help and they are given a chance to find the source of the leak and fix it.
Wade and Ember are from two elemental backgrounds that are not allowed to mix but they form a friendship that turns into something far more profound. In the process of finding the leak, Wade and Ember also find themselves. They discover who they truly are and the importance of sharing true feelings before it’s too late. Wade and Ember convince their families that elements can mix. They demonstrate to each other and to society that when they touch, instead of being dangerous, they merely change each other’s chemistry.
Immigration; segregation; sacrificing for those you love; prejudice and cultural misunderstandings; controlling rage and negative emotions
Elemental has some violence. For example:
- Ember gets frustrated with a customer, explodes with rage, and accidentally sets the shop on fire.
- Ember bangs into people and accidentally sets a tree person on fire.
- A character is nearly hit by a car.
- Ember explodes in rage and destroys part of her dad’s shop.
- A great storm destroys numerous homes in Fire Land.
- A boy hits Wade in the bottom with a bat.
- Ember nearly hits a bus while recklessly driving.
Elemental has some sexual references. For example:
- A little tree creature has a crush on Ember and keeps trying to ask her out. He tells her how he is all grown up and has begun ‘manscaping’. He plucks a flower from his armpit and gives it to her, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
- One character says to another, ‘You’re so hot. You’re smoking’.
- Ember’s dad tells her that he and her mum will have more time for ‘hanky panky’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There’s no substance use in Elemental.
Nudity and sexual activity
Elemental has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Two trees are seen plucking fruit from each other. They are embarrassed to have been caught in the act and say, ‘It’s just a little pruning’.
- There are a couple of scenes in which Wade and Ember attempt to touch before finally finding the courage to do so. They hold hands, dance, embrace and later kiss.
- There is a ‘kiss cam’ at a sporting game and numerous random characters kiss.
There’s no product placement in Elemental.
Elemental has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Elemental is an animated adventure from Disney Pixar studios featuring an extremely diverse cast with powerful messages about multi-culturalism and inclusion. Aimed at children, this is a movie that families can watch together and one that adults and teens might just fall in love with too.
These are the main messages from Elemental:
- Don’t discount people because they are different. If we embrace people who are different and learn from them, everyone is better off.
- True love will always find a way. Be open and honest with those you love because you might not have forever to say what needs to be said.
Values in Elemental that you could reinforce with your children are courage, love, honesty, creativity, and compassion.
Elemental could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things like these:
- Believing that people of certain backgrounds are all the same.
- The challenges that migrants and refugees face when moving to a new place in the hope of making a better life for their families. Including the challenge of bringing their culture with them.
- Believing that ‘elements’ must be kept separate. And the harm and hurt that can develop when one group is excluded or not given equal opportunity.
- Sacrificing dreams because of what someone else may want.