Borrowed Time.

There’s a new Pixar animators’ side project short making the rounds, Borrowed Time, and as you will see, watching the video, it has garnered high praise from everyone. Not from me. I understand the desire to impress people with the idea that animation is not solely for children or upbeat subjects, but I rather thought most people already had that one figured out. According to the blurb, Borrowed Time is about loss and mourning. What I saw was a wallow in a soul destroying guilt, which had pretty much eaten the character’s life. It also seemed to me that the old west was chosen as a scenario so that a gun could be brought into play. This short is being described as powerful, but it did not affect me that way at all. It struck me as being cheap, maudlin, and manipulative. Yes, I got the ‘lesson’ of borrowed time and all that, but depicting a person utterly ruined by guilt wasn’t a good way to do that.

The Verge has the full story on this.


  1. davex says

    Since Rooster Cogburn’s lever-action rifle needs to be re-cocked before each shot, it seems like a fake setup. As much as the old west was a setup for the gun, that the gun had a round chambered and cocked was also a setup. I imagine they don’t want viewers to think the old man was setting up his son to be his tool of suicide, but their sloppiness leaves that possibility open.

  2. says


    It’s a side-project by two Pixar animators, which is a very different thing indeed.

    Fine, you can calm down now. I don’t think it’s quite that massive of a distinction. Anyroad, you’ve made your objection, and I am going to make this very fucking clear: I will not tolerate this thread turning into a mud puddle argument over what constitutes Pixar and what and what doesn’t. If you have something relevant to say about the video, fine. If you don’t, then you have nothing to say at all.

  3. says

    I bite: What is the lesson of this?
    Is it supposed to be gun safety? Because since they were being chased by bandits (what happened to them?) before the crash even I would agree that it would be asking a bit too much to remember securing the gun again while you’re falling down the conveniently located cliff.

    I agree with the start of the Verge article: The opening of Up was seriously great storytelling.

  4. says


    What is the lesson of this?

    Daddy’s watch will save you from committing suicide? Ohan, I think the takeaway was supposed to be that we’re all living on borrowed time, so to speak, you never know when you’ll die, yada, yada, so always tell people you love them and all that, then I have nothing. I found the story telling to be so damn bad, this was painful to watch, and not in the way the film makers meant, either.

    As Davex pointed out, the whole gun thing doesn’t work, because it wouldn’t have gone off accidentally. And the bandits…yeah. If you’re going to have bad guys, you kinda need to follow through -- all the stuff they were after was supposedly still there, all over the ground, so, hey, but they disappeared.

    As for Up, I agree. That was powerful story telling.

  5. davex says

    A an animated short should be tight like a poem, or a short story, and there’s bits in it that just lose me. Animation takes tons of hours and lots of planning and decisions, and its off-putting if they get something wrong. I had an artsy roommate once read me a poem titled “SOS” with “long-long-long short-short-short long-long-long” in it repeatedly, and I just couldn’t take it seriously. I’m no gun expert, but it bugged me. Also, how did the hanging-by-one-arm dad pull the rfle out of the holster and flip it around so it was pointing at him? They didn’t animate the draw & flip. Maybe it was on purpose to have the plot shoot the dad, If it was a sword (where I’m also no expert) drawing it and ending up with the pointy end in hand would need explanation as well.

    It doesn’t take much lack of contextual expertise to break a work.

  6. AlexanderZ says

    My question is why were they galloping to the cliff in the first place?
    Look at them riding -- they don’t have any other road to turn to. Their only destination was the cliff. Was the cliff a metaphor for inevitability? Are the bandits represent the Cwn Annwn and carriage ride a Western Wild Hunt?
    Or is “Lazy Writing” a far more apt title for this flick?

  7. says


    Or is “Lazy Writing” a far more apt title for this flick?

    This, I think. It seems they were so intent on manipulating heart strings, little thought went into this. I just can’t get over the amount of laurel wreaths this thing got.

  8. says

    Or is “Lazy Writing” a far more apt title for this flick?

    Yeah, though I think that may be an entire series, crossing genre and format. Sometimes I think that with all the fancy technology, they don’t bother with the storytelling anymore. Either that or my suspension of disbelief has grown thin. There’s a bunch of stuff that I think I should enjoy* but where I just can’t get out of the computer animated plotholes the size of an apartment block.

    *See: the Walking Dead. Why are the zombies smart enough to bring down the US fucking army but stupid enough to be fooled by locks?

  9. AlexanderZ says

    Giliell #10

    Why are the zombies smart enough to bring down the US fucking army but stupid enough to be fooled by locks?

    Clearly you’re unfamiliar with the intelligence level of an average general. I’ve seen one (well, colonel, actually, but it’s all the same) outwitted by a car door.
    I get you with regards to suspension of disbelief -- I can’t remember the last SciFi I’ve rear or watched and I was thinking that I was done with the genre. But then I listened to a couple of short SciFi stories on Nature’s podcast and I was back into it. I guess my lack of interest was living on…
    Borrowed Time!

  10. rq says

    That’s a lot of wreaths for a movie where my Eldest said within the first minute, “This is a killing film where people die!” And it’s true, I think I died a little bit from cliched ordinariness while watching this.
    (Also, the wallow in guilt -- such a typically White Man thing to do, I was amazed. :P)

Leave a Reply