Alert all social media: The breakthrough star of the season is here. His name is Baymax and he’s impossible not to love. Every home should have one. This irresistible blob of roly-poly, robot charisma is a digital doughboy who steals every scene he’s in. The 3-D animated Big Hero 6, from the caffeinated marketing minds at Disney and Marvel, would be a ton less fun without him.
Set in a futuristic, Asian-fusion melting pot called San Fransokyo (get it?), this cinematic take on a Marvel comic I never heard of focuses on two orphaned, tech-nerd brothers. Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) is a teen into making technology a game of bot fights. His college student bro, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), is more into design and brainiac concepts. Then, in the Disney manner, disaster strikes. Poor Hiro is alone in the world. Except for Baymax (endearingly voiced by Scott Adsit), a chubby hunk of inflatable, white vinyl with two black eyes and the gentlest disposition a computer ever generated. Baymax is a walking version of Obamacare, a bot who’s been built to heal. But if Hiro is going to find the evildoers behind the disaster, and enlist Tadashi’s pals in the process, he must first teach Baymax a few, handy kung-fu street-fighting tricks.
You can see where this is going. Luckily, directors Don Hall and Chris Williams cover familiar ground with bracing energy and style. The physical comedy involving the bonding of Hiro and Baymax is pure pleasure. And credit screenwriters Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson and Jordan Roberts for showing respect for the grief Hiro is feeling and Baymax can only try to heal. Big Hero 6 falls short of the Pixar genius at work in, say, The Incredibles and WALL-E, but it flies high on unabashed hilarity and heart. This one’s a winner. And Baymax, baby, call your agent. You’re about to be a household name.