Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Pixar Shorts: For Your Consideration

Last week, I posted my ranked list of Pixar films - and, no, I haven't watched Onward yet.

This week, I'm giving you my list of Pixar shorts... divided by loosely-defined categories/eras and without (in many cases) a lot of detail. I will note that many of these are available through Disney+, so I've noted the ones that are not available through that streaming service - and apologize, as the original version of this post listed a number of shorts as "not available" that actually are!

The Classics
  • The Adventures of Andre & Wally B.
  • Luxo Jr. 
  • Red’s Dream
  • Tin Toy
  • Knick Knack
These are the originals… the first CGI shorts that acted as proof of concept (computer animation can work) and proof that the folks at Pixar knew how to tell a story. Luxo Jr. would provide the Pixar logo (the bouncing desk lamp) and Tin Toy (even with the creepy/primitive baby animation) would be the jumping off point for the first full-length film we all know and love, Toy Story. (Tin Toy, by the way, was the first Oscar win for Pixar as Best Animated Short Film.)

My favorite of this group, though, is Knick Knack. The humor is sometimes sly, sometimes pure slapstick… and it works like a charm.

The Oscar Run
  • Geri’s Game 
  • For the Birds
  • Boundin’
  • One Man Band 
  • Lifted
  • Presto
  • Partly Cloudy
  • Day & Night
  • La Luna
With the exception of Partly Cloudy, all of these “independent” shorts were nominated for Oscars… and both Geri’s Game and For the Birds won. (The lead character in Geri’s Game became the Cleaner of Toy Story 2.)

My two favorites from this period are One Man Band and Presto… if you want to see comic timing in a cartoon at classic Warner Brothers perfection, Presto is amazing. (I would mention that both For the Birds and Day & Night are delightful and well worth your time.)

  • The Blue Umbrella
  • Lava
Lava is, frankly, one of my least favorite Pixar shorts… and I’m including some of the Mater Tall Tales and Forky Asks a Question in my calculations. The Blue Umbrella is sweet… but the “nature & the city conspire for love” theme was much better done in Disney’s Paperman.

The Second Oscar Run
  • Sanjay’s Super Team
  • Piper
  • Lou
  • Bao
This was the “second wind” of the Pixar team… with the wild creativity of Sanjay’s Super Team, the stunning visuals of Piper, the physical comedy of Lou, and the weird but compelling metaphor of Bao. I think my favorite is Piper… but Lou appeals to the elementary school kid in me that was picked on. (All four of these shorts were nominated for Oscars – and Piper & Bao both won.)

And Now, The Rest of the Story…
  • Mike’s New Car (Monsters, Inc.)
  • Jack-Jack Attack (The Incredibles)
  • Your Friend the Rat (Ratatouille) 
  • Dug’s Special Mission (Up)
  • George and A.J. (Up)
  • The Legend of Mor’du (Brave)
  • Party Central (Monsters University)
  • Riley’s First Date? (Inside Out)
  • Marine Life Interviews (Finding Dory) (not currently available on Disney+)
  • Auntie Edna (Incredibles 2)
This is a mixed bag of “extra” stories from beloved (and, in some cases, not so beloved) Pixar films. Jack-Jack Attack is my favorite of the group, with Your Friend the Rat a close second. None of them are essential viewing (with the possible exception of Jack-Jack)… and a couple (Riley’s First Date? and Auntie Edna) actually work against what is enjoyable about the movies they came from.

Too Much of a Good Thing
  • Mater and the Ghostlight
  • Mater’s Tall Tales
    • Rescue Squad Mater 
    • Mater the Greater
    • El Materdor 
    • Tokyo Mater
    • Unidentified Flying Mater 
    • Monster Truck Mater
    • Heavy Metal Mater
    • Moon Mater 
    • Mater Private Eye
    • Air Mater 
    • Time Travel Mater 
  • Tales from Radiator Springs
    • Hiccups
    • Bugged 
    • Spinning 
    • The Radiator Spring 500 ½
  • Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool (not currently available on Disney+)
As noted in my previous Pixar films post, I really love Cars… seriously, I teared up riding Radiator Springs Racers when the music swells and you come around the corner towards the waterfall. 

However, I cannot recommend the majority of the Cars shorts – at least for adults. The boys loved Mater’s Tall Tales when they were younger… but they are, much like Cars 2, too much Mater and not enough of anything else. 

Back to the Beginning
  • Hawaiian Vacation
  • Small Fry
  • Partysaurus Rex 
  • Toy Story of Terror! (not currently available on Disney+)
  • Toy Story That Time Forgot (not currently available on Disney+)
  • Lamp Life 
  • Forky Asks a Question
Toy Story was an amazing start for Pixar – and some of the best “derivative” shorts have come from the wonderful secret world of toys. Ignoring Forky Asks a Question (which I don’t enjoy), I think all of the listed Toy Story shorts are worth your time… with my favorite being Toy Story That Time Forgot.


Joe Huber said...

Mark, almost all of these are available on Disney+. I actually watched One Man Band on Disney+ recently - and looking through, I see _nearly_ all of them. I don't see Marine Life Interviews, or the two Toy Story shorts you mention. (Checking this, I discovered that Coco is available in Spanish on Disney+. Which makes me wonder if Moana is available in Maori.)

I look at the Pixar shorts as fitting into two buckets:

* Movie tie-ins. These are fun, and worth seeing, but - that's it.

* Originals. There are certainly eras of these, but - when I hear "Pixar Short", these are what I think of.

I actually like Lava. I agree that it's not up to the standards of the best of the shorts - for me, I'd point to One Man Band and Piper, but for me they're all enjoyable.

Maybe there's a third bucket - I'm not sure if the SparkShorts count as originals (they're certainly in that tradition) or not.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Thanks, Joe - I'll check later today... I'm guessing I was operating from an outdated list.

One Man Band is splendid - I actually used it for a sermon illustration back in the day.

Andrew L. said...

Hey Mark! I found you from the Dice Steeple podcasts you did a few years back. I enjoy your commentaries and have been lurking on your blog for a few days.

I wanted to reach out to you and share a Christian fantasy dungeon crawler I'm working on called Deliverance. Would love to know what you think! You can see some info at Deliverancethegame.com.

Have you ever heard of it? I didn't know how else to reach out, so I sent a blog comment :D

Kind regards,


George Luther said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.