“It is okay to cry. Crying is a natural response to pain.”
Directed by: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, Alan Tudyk
San Fransokyo is in trouble! Robot genius Hiro Hamada finds himself catapulted into danger, and turns to Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot for help. Along with adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neat-crazy Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon, and fan boy Fred, the team must uncover the mystery and transform themselves into a band of high-tech heroes called Big Hero 6.
The directors of the 54th Walt Disney Animation Studios movie Big Hero 6 have previous. Don Hall’s former directorial foray for Disney was with 2011’s Winnie the Pooh, a sweet, very traditional take on the classic character. His co director Chris Williams took the lead on 2008’s Bolt, which was critically lauded but failed to set the box office ablaze, much like Hall’s Winnie the Pooh. Big Hero 6 takes the sweetness of Winnie, and modernised pomp and action of Bolt, and makes something that whilst perhaps isn’t as flat out enjoyable as Bolt was has incredible amounts of heart.
All that heart comes from the film’s stand out character Baymax (Scott Adsit), a healthcare companion created by lead character Hiro’s brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney), who tragically pops his clogs within the opening gambit of the film, sending Hiro (Ryan Potter) down a path of discovery as he hunts to find the villain responsible for his brother’s untimely demise. The death of a family member in Disney films is a well worn trope, forcing the lead character’s coming of age (Mufasa’s death in The Lion King, or Bambi’s mother, for example) and again it’s used to great effect here spiralling Hiro into a well of self pity and angst.
Thankfully Baymax is on hand to warm Hiro’s heart and help him on his quest to avenge his brother’s death, as well as to misdiagnose Hiro’s symptoms of sorrow as puberty. Baymax acts as the soul of the film, both warming and hilarious he’s genuinely an instant Disney classic, and much much more than a novelty act (see Scrat, Ice Age) or merchandise seller (see the Minions, Despicable Me). He’s key to the plot and without him Big Hero 6 would instantly lose the vast majority of its charm. Simply put, he’s fantastic.
Did I mention how much I like Baymax?
Besides Hiro and Baymax, there are of course four other members of the Big Hero 6, a superhero team of tech geniuses combining forces to assist in Hiro’s cause. The problem is, all of them barring perhaps one (Fred, played by T. J. Miller) kind of just blend into the background. We know they were friends of Hiro’s brother….and that’s about it. The film could quite easily of been called Big Hero 2 and I would have been happy enough, because it really is at it’s best when focusing on the core pairing of Hiro and Baymax, Hiro’s struggle with loss and Baymax’s unending desire to help his owner.
It’s thanks in no small part to this relationship that the closing scenes of the movie hit the emotional highs that they do. The fairly generic climatic battle is mostly excusable when the film is knocking it out of the park emotionally as it does towards its end. For sure the film has its flaws, but when it gets so much right dramatically it’s hard not to fall in love.
Yes Baymax, I am satisfied with my care *sobs wildly in corner*.
Baymax is a character that deserves to be held aloft with the best of the Disney greats, memorable and rib tickling as he is. Big Hero 6 is imperfect for sure, but it nails its emotional beats with an outstanding assuredness to ensure its status as a worthy entry into the Disney library.
Rating (out of 5):