To discover irrefutable evidence that there is life on other planets would be astonishing, if not just a little scary. To come face-to-face with extra-terrestrial visitors who have mistaken you for the leader of the human race – now that would be absolutely terrifying. However, as envisioned by the brilliant creators at Pixar, it sounds like an exciting, stellar endeavor, which is what we have to expect from ELIO.
This family-friendly, animated sci-fi, fantasy adventure is the next feature – and 28th film overall – that audiences can expect from Disney and Pixar, which most recently brought us ELEMENTAL, but it will be a bit of a wait, as the film is currently set to be released in AMC Theatres on March 1, 2024. While we wait for the stars to align, let’s take a look at what we already do know about ELIO.
A Boy’s Adventure Through Space
ELIO is the story of our title character – a young, lonely boy whose mother, Olga, works for a top secret government program that tasks her with decoding transmissions from other planets. One night, she makes a breakthrough and receives a message asking to meet the leader of Earth and, at the very moment, receives a call from her son. Olga’s extra-terrestrial contact picks up on their call, leading them to assume that Elio is the authority figure they are looking for and promptly beam him up so they make his acquaintance.
Interstellar adventures with a coming-of-age twist such as ELIO are nothing new to Disney – which has previously released sci-fi classics like 1986’s FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR and, not to mention, owns the STAR WARS franchise. This will not be the first time that Pixar has explored the genre either, having come out with the Chris Evans-led TOY STORY spin-off, LIGHTYEAR, in the summer of 2022 and released the Oscar®-winning dystopian satire, WALL-E, 14 years earlier.
America Ferrera Stars
Only a handful of the actors in the ELIO cast were revealed by Disney at 2022’s D23 expo, but we know from this chosen few that this adventure through the stars boasts a star-studded ensemble. Playing Elio’s mother, Olga Solis, is America Ferrera, who is best known for TV comedies like “Superstore” and “Ugly Betty” – the latter of which earned her an Emmy Award. Her last notable voice acting role was Astrid from the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON movies.
Fellow sitcom stars Brad Garrett – who won multiple Emmy Awards for playing Robert Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond” – and Jameela Jamil of “The Good Place” and “She-Hulk” fame lend their voices to play two of the extra-terrestrials whom Elio encounters. Garrett – a Pixar veteran known for roles in FINDING NEMO and RATATOUILLE – is the voice of Ambassador Grigon, while Jamil – making her Pixar debut – is Ambassador Questa. While ELIO is also the Pixar debut for Yonas Kibreab, who voices the title role, he is no stranger to Disney, nor to the sci-fi genre, having played a Jedi Youngling on the Disney+ STAR WARS-related series “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” in addition to a human/fox hybrid on Netflix’s “Sweet Tooth.”
Adrian Molina Directs
ELIO also marks a major debut for director Adrian Molina, who is helming his first solo feature-length film with the out-of-this-world spectacle, which he also wrote. His first major collaboration with Pixar was writing some material for the MONSTERS INC. prequel, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, in 2013 before going on to contribute to the screenplay for THE GOOD DINOSAUR from 2015.
Molina later collaborated with Matthew Aldrich to pen 2017’s Academy Award®-winning, musical tearjerker COCO, for which he also got to be Lee Unkrich’s co-director. Between then and his work on ELIO, he would be part of the Senior Creative Team for 2019’s TOY STORY 4 and LIGHTYEAR and, a year earlier, was credited for contributing to the story of LUCA.
Watch The Trailer
On its own, the central concept of ELIO – a young boy mistaken for the leader of the human race by aliens representing their own planets – certainly sounds fascinating enough to entice audiences of all ages. However, watching the first official trailer for the film and bearing witness to its wondrous, truly out-of-its world imagery and unique creature design only makes us anticipate this adventure more. See for yourself by checking out the clip below:
It was a nice touch to initially give the teaser a more earnest tone – complete with dramatic voiceover narration – at the beginning, especially with the more humorous turns that it makes after Elio is taken from his home planet. It is particularly funny and charming when he tries to act more like an adult while facing what appears to be the interplanetary equivalent of Earth’s United Nations. Yet, the funniest moment might be when Garrett’s Ambassador Grigon recalls to Elio the story of how he ate his mother shortly after she birthed him, much to the shock of his peers.
With humor, heart, and hijinks that send our young title hero to a place where no one has gone before, ELIO appears to be just what wide-eyed Pixar fans with a curiosity for what lies beyond our familiarity are looking for. Bring the whole family to see it when it comes to an AMC Theatres location near you!