Just when you thought the generic American tale of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets married, and boy and girl have children was officially exhausted, Disney finds a way to tell it from a fresh perspective: the dog. This is the gimmick behind the studio’s newest, almost completely silent, short film Feast—the story of which came from Nicole Mitchell and Raymond S. Persi before animator Patrick Osborne took the reins as writer/director. They ensure that it only takes one French fry to grow little Winston’s appetite for the “finer things in life” and assist him along the journey towards realizing what it means to be “man’s best friend”.
With a perfect aesthetic for 3D effects considering the amount of meatballs and Cheetos that fly through the air towards his always-open mouth, the animation harkens back to the 2D hand-drawn work of yesteryear similar to the Oscar-winning Paperman. The story is in large part about Winston’s owner and the life choices he makes over the years, but the vantage point is forever from the dog’s perspective at ground level. His emotions eventually play a role in how we as an audience are to understand what’s happening around him, but before this point it’s all about the food. Even though the fry alters his palette to know there’s more than kibble, it doesn’t stop him from eating it. At least until James’ leftovers prove too plentiful and delicious.
As the cuts take us through day after day, meal after meal, we begin to see environmental changes via the food found sitting in his bowl. In all honesty, I found myself so attuned to the dog that I missed the transitions of his owner in the background. Only after seeing Brussels sprouts land with a sprig of parsley—eaten with fervor before being spit out in disgust—was I jarred awake to notice there was more to this short than previously thought. The health kick meant a new girlfriend, the ice cream and pizza to follow a fresh depression. And through every evolutionary step the love Winston shows for the man filling his bowl remains to show a simple, gratifying, and mostly selfless life made real as he helps his master achieve the familial dream.