ELEMENTAL*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film is preceded by an “Up” short
Carl Frederickson (Ed Asner) has been living comfortably with Dug (Bob Peterson) despite being unable to train him like a normal dog. Carl then gets a call from a woman named Mrs. Myers, who is the owner of Beta (the doberman that was formerly Alpha). She invites Carl to go on a date, which makes him nervous because he hasn’t dated anyone else besides his late wife Ellie. Carl spends most of the day trying hard to make a good impression, such as trying on a new cologne or dying his hair black. Dug doesn’t like the changes and convinces Carl to just be himself. When the time for the date arrives, Carl gets ready to go out, and Dug offers to join him.
The film opens with two fire people (Ronnie Del Carmen and Shila Ommi) arrive on a boat to Element City. Being the only fire people among water, earth, and air people, they are scornfully looked down upon. When they pass through customs, their names are hard for the agent to pronounce, so he calls them Bernie and Cinder. The two settle down in their new home, and Cinder gives birth to their daughter, Ember.
As time goes on, more fire people move into what is known as Fire Town, which is kept outside of Element City. Bernie and Cinder open up a shop, The Fireplace. Ember (Leah Lewis) aspires to inherit the shop from her father, but she has a problem with her temper, as she is known to literally blow up and cause damage when she gets too upset. She also has a young earth neighbor named Clod (Mason Wertheimer), who has a crush on her and tries to impress her with flowers, but she cannot touch them without burning them.
Bernie takes the day off for the store’s Red Dot Sale and entrusts Ember to run the shop. Ember quickly becomes overwhelmed by the amount of customers and their bad habits, so she runs down to the basement where she can let out one of her fiery explosions. The pipes then start to break and fill the place with water. Ember tries to weld the pipe back together, but a water guy, Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie), spills out of the pipes. Wade is prone to big emotions like Ember but is more sensitive. He also happens to be a city inspector and finds numerous citations for the shop that can get it shut down. Despite Ember’s pleas, Wade abides by his job and heads off to send in the citations. Ember chases after him through the city but is unable to stop Wade when they reach City Hall. After hearing how much the store means to her father, Wade offers to help plead her case to the higher-ups.
Wade brings Ember to Fern Grouchwood (Joe Pera), an earth guy in charge of sending the citations to get certified. While Ember tries to talk, Wade talks over her and gets too personal about how the shop needs to be saved for Bernie. Ember loses it again and makes another explosion, which doesn’t help at all, and Fern tells her to expect the shop’s closure in a matter of days.
Wade offers another solution by having Ember meet Gale (Wendi McLendon-Covey), an air lady who is Wade’s boss. He brings Ember to Cyclone Stadium where a game of cloudball is taking place, and Gale is a passionate fan. Ember and Gale get off to a rocky start since Gale’s favorite team, the Windbreakers, is losing. Everyone sees that star player Lutz (Matt Yang King) isn’t doing well, so Wade manages to start a chant among the audience to give Lutz a confidence boost, even creating a wave with the other water people. Lutz then plays even better, and the Windbreakers win.
After the game, Ember and Gale are on friendlier terms as Ember tries to explain the situation with her shop. After mentioning the leak, Gale finds is suspicious because water hasn’t come to Fire Town in years. Wade mentions inspecting a run-in of water outside the city limits before he got sucked into the basement of The Fireplace. Gale tells Ember and Wade that if they can find the source of the leak, the shop will not be closed.
Ember and Wade find a hot air balloon that helps them fly over the city. While admiring the view, Ember gets upset when she sees Garden Central Station, because it reminds her of when she was a child and wanted to see a Vivisteria flower, as it can bloom around any element, even fire. However, she and Bernie experienced racism from the other elements who saw fire as destructive. The station ended up flooding, and Ember never got to see the flower. They then spot the source of the water coming from a broken dam that stops the runoff from ships from making its way into Fire Town. More water begins to spill out, so Ember and Wade quickly manage to block the leak by using sandbags.
Later on, Ember and Wade begin to date in secret. Although there are some activities they cannot do because of Ember being a fire woman, Wade helps to find other things they can do. In their time together, Ember shares another story about how her parents had to leave their home, Fire Land, after a storm destroyed their home. On the day they left, Bernie tried to give his father the Blessed Bow, the highest mark of respect among the fire people, but his father would not return the bow due to seeing his son leaving their home as a betrayal. They keep a blue flame in their shop, as it is a cultural aspect of the fire people that they believe brings them blessings. Ember tries to keep the relationship a secret from her parents, but Cinder claims she can smell love off of her daughter.
Wade visits the shop but must pretend to be an inspector because Bernie hates water people. He gives Wade some of his coal nuts which are very hot, and Wade tries them out even though they burn him. When he tries to water them down, Bernie gets angry and bans Wade from the store.
Wade returns to the dam and sees that the sandbags didn’t hold. Ember arrives at the spot and comes up with an idea. She uses the sand from the bags to create tempered glass using her flame to create a strong enough barrier to stop the water from coming out.
Ember later joins Wade for dinner with his family at the home of his mother Brook (Catherine O’Hara). She meets Wade’s siblings and uncle as well, and even though it is awkward at first, the rest of the family tells Ember that Wade has not stopped talking about her. Wade’s uncle accidentally breaks a glass pitcher, and Ember puts it back together in a more beautiful design, which impresses the Ripples. They then gather for a “Crying Game”, as Wade’s family is just as emotional as he is, but the objective is to NOT cry. Ember and Wade go up, and Wade manages to get Ember to tear up by giving her a heartwarming speech about his love for her. They then get a call from Gale, who has seen the tempered glass and is happy about it, so she says the shop can stay. Ember and Wade celebrate. Before leaving, Brook tells Ember about a possible job opportunity at a glass-blowing company that could use someone with her skills. While Ember likes the idea, she is too conflicted about taking over the shop since she admits to Wade that it’s not something she really wants to do.
Wade brings Ember to Garden Central Station for a surprise. Gale is there, and she creates an air bubble for Ember to enter underwater. Wade takes her underground where she finally sees the Vivisteria flowers, which all bloom when she goes near them. The air bubble starts to shrink, so Wade manages to swim out quickly with Ember. Despite their moment together, Ember is still hesitant to get close to Wade for fear that they may accidentally kill each other. Wade encourages her to take things slowly, and they manage to touch hands, creating steam. They get closer and are able to dance together, but once again Ember feels an obligation to her family and runs back to the shop. Wade follows and is spotted by Cinder. She makes them get into her room in the shop where she does smoke readings on couples to see if their love is real. Wade manages to use Ember’s flame to shine through him to light the wick, but Bernie comes home before Cinder can do the reading, and Wade has to leave.
On the day of Bernie’s intended retirement, he holds a celebration with the other fire people to announce that he is letting Ember take over the shop. Wade shows up to declare his love for Ember, despite knowing how Bernie will react. However, Ember remains firm in her position to not disappoint her family, so she tells Wade that she doesn’t love him. Cinder says she is wrong because she did find love in their smoke readings, but when Ember mentions her temper blow-up caused the pipes to leak, Bernie is disappointed and unretires, saying his trust in Ember has been broken.
Ember goes to be alone when she spots that the glass from the dam has broken, and a huge flood is heading toward Fire Town. As she goes to warn the other citizens to get to higher ground, Wade, who was getting ready to leave Element City, sees everything and rushes back to help. The flood reaches the shop, and Ember goes inside to protect the blue flame. Wade helps her and manages to save the flame before the water gets everywhere. They end up trapped in a room, where Ember’s flame is getting too hot for Wade. Ember tries to break through the room to save Wade, but he doesn’t let her because she could be extinguished. They hold each other close, and Wade evaporates.
Bernie and Cinder get Ember out, and she cries over lying to her parents and because she really did love Wade. When she tells Bernie that she feels she ruined his dream and life’s work, Bernie tells her that the shop was never his dream, she was. Ember then hears what sounds like Wade crying and dripping from the ceiling into a bucket. Ember gets her parents to say things that can make Wade cry, which helps him rematerialize. Ember and Wade then share their first kiss.
Months later, the shop is rebuilt, and Bernie still retires but business is as good as ever. Clod has befriended another little fire girl that he tries to woo. Ember and Wade then prepare to leave for a new city since Ember has accepted the internship at the glass company. Bernie, Cinder, and Brook go to see their kids off. Before Ember boards the ship, she gives Bernie the Blessed Bow, which he returns to her.
Element City is made up of fire, water, earth, and air people, with the fire people frequently looked down upon by most. Ember Lumen is a fire woman who hopes to inherit her father Bernie's shop, but she has a problem with her (literally) explosive temper. One of her outbursts causes a pipe to break, bringing out a water city inspector named Wade Ripple. He writes up many citations for the shop, which puts it in danger of closure. Despite their initially bumpy meeting, Ember and Wade begin to fall in love after spending more time together, but they have to keep it a secret because Bernie hates water people.
Ember and Wade find a broken dam that is spilling water into Fire Town. Ember uses her glassmaking abilities to create a wall of tempered glass to prevent a flood. She later meets Wade's family, and his mother Brook offers to get her a job at a glass company after being impressed by her talents. While Ember is interested, she is conflicted because she fears her father will be disappointed if she chooses not to run the shop.
During a celebration for Bernie's retirement, Wade shows up to declare his love for Ember, but she tells him she doesn't love him for fear of disappointing her family. The glass wall breaks, sending a huge flood toward Fire Town. Ember and Wade head into the shop to protect her family's blue flame, but they get trapped in a space where Wade evaporates due to the heat from Ember. She tearfully admits to her parents that she did love Wade, but she quickly finds a way to bring him back from the water on the walls, and they share their first kiss.
Months later, the shop is rebuilt, and Ember and Wade start their new lives in a different city.