Most people believe Pixar began with the debut of “Toy Story” in 1997 but they’d be wrong. It actually began with a short directed by Pixar head John Lasseter called “Luxor, Jr.” and is the basis for the jumping desklamp logo that Pixar is known for. Ever since “A Bug’s Life” Pixar has released animated shorts that precede their films.
In 2007 Pixar released “The Pixar Shorts” collection, a compilation of shorts including “Luxor, Jr” and others. Though I enjoyed some of them, I was never really won over by the ones in that collection. It was with the short “Presto” which accompanied “The Incredibles” that I was finally really impressed. Now, Pixar is set to release volume two of the compilation, including “Presto” and what I think are the best shorts to date.
The shorts range from original material, to feature-connected shorts like the “Cars Toons,” and “Toy Story Toons” but all are absolutely entertaining. This was the collection for me as it has all my favorites:
· Your Friend the Rat w/ optional commentary by director Jim Capobianco and production designer Nate Wragg. “Ratatouille’s” Remy and his brother Emile give a world history of the rat, with the purpose of convincing us that rats really aren’t our enemy.
· Presto w/ optional commentary by director Doug Sweetland. Great turn-of-the-century magician Presto has some problems with his act when he neglects to feed his rabbit.
· Burn•E w/ optional commentary by director Angus MacLane. Based on characters from “Wall•E”, the repair-bot Burn•E runs into problems making a simple outside repair and finds himself locked outside the ship.
· Partly Cloudy w/ commentary by director Peter Sohn. As the storks receive their baby deliveries from the clouds, one stork in particular has a rough go of it with the little bundles he is tasked to deliver.
· Dug’s Special Mission w/ commentary by director Ronnie Del Carmen. Dug, the talking dog from “Up” is sent on a fool’s errand by Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, until he finally finds his real place in the world.
· George & A.J. w/ optional commentary by director Josh Cooley. Poor George and A.J. have their hands full with the senior citizens of the town who have all been planning their own daring escapes from the retirement community after Carl’s daring escape. This is another short based on “Up”.
· Day & Night w/ optional commentary by director Teddy Newton & layout artist Sandra Karpman. Day and Night, two feuding fellows with different traits, find that their differences aren’t so bad, and perhaps they can have a strong friendship after all.
· Hawaiian Vacation w/ optional commentary by director Gary Rydstrom, story supervisor Jason Katz & supervising animator Angus MacLane. Woody and the rest of the toys try to recreate a Hawaiian vacation for Barbie and Ken without ever leaving home.
· Air Mater w/ optional commentary by director Rob Gibbs, producer Kim Adams & production designer Bob Pauley. When Mater decides he wants to learn how to fly, he finds himself accidentally recruited by a group of formation flyers, the Falcon Hawks.
· Small Fry w/ optional commentary by director Angus MacLane. Woody and the toys must devise a plan to rescue Buzz after he is left behind at a fast food restaurant and finds himself stuck in a therapy group for discarded happy meal toys.
· Time Travel Mater w/ optional commentary by director Rob Gibbs, editor Torbin Xan Bullock & production designer Anthony Christov. An accident sends Mater traveling back in time to 1910 where he meets the founder of Radiator Springs.
· La Luna w/ optional commentary by director Enrico Casarosa & producer Kevin Reher. This marvelous short finds a young boy discovering his family’s business in the most magical of ways.
Personal favorites on this list are “Presto,” “Night & Day,” “Partly Cloudy,” “La Luna,” and the feature connected shorts “Burn-E,” “Dug’s Special Mission,” and “Your Friend the Rat” which is saying a lot because I was not a fan of “Ratatouille.” Also included in this collection are student films from Pixar directors John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter, all of which show the creativity that has made them the directors they are today.
If you’re a fan of the Pixar shorts already, then this is definitely for you. If not, you should still check it out as the shorts are just as good as the feature films they precede.