‘Elemental’ Movie Review: A Charming and “Steamy” Rom-Com for the Whole Family

Elemental Movie Review

In the realm of animated storytelling, Pixar has consistently dazzled fans with their imaginative worlds and heartfelt narratives. And while marketed towards kids, there’s always a more profound message for adults that strikes us at our core.

Elemental is no different. It’s just as charming and sincere as its predecessors, even though it may not be among the studios’ best flicks. However, a good film from Pixar is still better than most animated movies by a long shot.

Elemental, a fresh and innovative film from Disney and Pixar, takes place in the vibrant setting of Element City, a place where residents of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air coexist. This heartfelt story follows Ember, a resilient and sharp-witted young woman, whose encounter with Wade, a carefree and sentimental individual, pushes her to question her perceptions of their shared world. Ember’s convictions face an unexpected test as their friendship unfolds, igniting a journey of self-discovery and transformation.

Leah Lewis lends her voice to the spirited character of Ember, while Mamoudou Athie brings life to Wade, the water-guy. Ronnie del Carmen portrays Bernie, Ember’s father who is on the verge of retirement. And Shila Ommi embodies Cinder, Ember’s mother on a quest for love. Wendi McLendon-Covey voices Gale, Wade’s tempestuous boss with a passion for Air-Ball. And Catherine O’Hara takes on the role of Brook, Wade’s warm and welcoming mother. Mason Wertheimer portrays Clod, Ember’s neighbor who looks up to her. And Joe Pera gives voice to Fern, an imposing city bureaucrat.

Elemental Movie Trailer

Elemental Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

At its core, this film is not just a love story but also an immigration story, which isn’t necessarily apparent from the marketing.

Helmed by director Peter Sohn (known for The Good Dinosaur), Elemental gracefully unfolds as a charming, albeit weightless, tale centered around an unlikely romance between a fire element and a water element. Sohn draws inspiration from his own upbringing, shedding light on the timeless struggle faced by many immigrant families. Cultural traditions and expectations often play a significant role, as parents may desire their children to marry within their own ethnicity.

And such is the case in Elemental, where Ember’s father envisions her following in his footsteps. Initially, Ember seems content to embrace this path until she encounters Wade and discovers the broader possibilities that exist in the city.

And on that note, let’s dive into the film’s heart, the story.

Elemental Movie Review
Photo Credit: Disney/Pixar


From the opening sequence, the film transports viewers to the bustling metropolis of Element City. It’s a a vibrant melting pot reminiscent of New York City. The story wastes no time in introducing us to the Lumens, a fiery couple whose arrival sets the stage for the harmonious coexistence of fire, water, land, and air residents within this dynamic urban landscape.

We meet Ember Lumen, the spirited daughter of two fire elements, who seems to aspire to inherit her father’s shop. Ember just has to learn how to control her temper in order to do so. The audience sees Ember have yet another destructive outburst, which damages the store irreparably. But through this event, she finds herself collaborating with Wade, an overly emotional water element and city inspector, on a quest to uncover the origin of a puzzling citywide leak.

Penned by the talented trio of John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, and Brenda Hsueh, Elemental weaves a narrative that embraces the timeless theme of opposites attracting and star-crossed lovers. The film marks Pixar’s inaugural foray into the romantic comedy genre. And while the storyline may follow a somewhat predictable trajectory, the story is infused with a refreshing twist that reignites the age-old tale.

I appreciated that the screenplay avoided tired tropes, skillfully sidestepping clichéd characters (like a comedic relief best friend or even a villain). And by doing so, Elemental sets itself apart, offering audiences a genuinely engaging and authentic romantic journey.


I don’t want to say it’s impossible for Pixar to make a terrible-looking movie. But that is my takeaway, with this being the 27th absolutely stunning film from the studio.

Elemental‘s breathtaking aesthetics make it one of the most visually stunning creations to emerge from the studio to date. And while the film’s eventual migration to Disney+ will allow fans to see all its glory up close and personal, a movie like this is meant to be seen on the big screen – where you can truly appreciate the grandeur of the artwork.


It may not be Pixar’s best film, but Elemental offers a heartwarming tale with an important message at its core. It’s an entertaining and beautiful flick that’s perfect for the whole family – no matter the age. And it’s rare in 2023 to find a film that so perfectly checks all those boxes.

Elemental Movie Review:

Grade: A-

Note: FanBolt’s Featured Image is fan art created by FanBolt purely for the love of design and fan culture. (We’re movie and design nerds). The property and fandom inspire the artwork, and no infringement is/was intended. Elemental is the property of Disney/Pixar.