Dee Rees debuted a new movie last night, but you may not have realized it until after the night was over. Walmart enlisted the “Mudbound” director, whose film was up for four Oscars Sunday night, to direct a 60-second short film using its delivery boxes. The result, titled “The Box,” is a rare delight of a short that preaches big dreams and healthy love. The commercial reunites Rees with Mary J. Blige, who was up for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “Mudbound.” In a clear nod to Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” a features a young girl pilot navigating a colorful, science fiction fantasy world where she must battle grotesque creatures upon the orders of a regal commander (Blige).
A clever visual trick reveals that our heroine is actually a little girl playing inside one of the branded Walmart boxes, playing make believe and stealing popcorn from her two mothers who are sitting on the couch. Not only is it one of the best commercials we’ve seen in awhile, but the lesbian couple at the end is a pretty radical nod to LGBT inclusion for a Walmart commercial.
Rees has been an out and proud lesbian publicly since her feature film debut, “Pariah,” a coming-of-age story about a young black girl discovering her sexuality in Brooklyn. In addition to injecting subversiveness into Oscar night, the short commercial also proves Rees has what it takes to direct a big-budget blockbuster complete with action sequences and VFX.
Check out Rees’ commercial below.
Three segments aired in total from all women directors, including shorts by Nancy Meyers and Melissa McCarthy. Here is the Meyers-directed short, featuring Oscar-nominated composer Hans Zimmer suffering a severe case of writers’ block.
Melissa McCarthy directed the third short, starring “The Greatest Showman” singer Keala Settle, who also performed during the ceremony. McCarthy has directed four episodes of her sitcom “Mike & Molly.”
This is the second year Walmart’s short film ad campaign. It piloted the program last year with commercials from Antoine Fuqua, Marc Forster and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.