"Pixar Shorts, Volume 1" DVD Review
November 08, 2007 by Zach Demeter
One had to wonder when this collection would appear. With Pixar’s name being synonymous with quality animation, it’s cool to finally get all of their shorts, once the companies bread and butter, on one DVD. Of course you could view most of them online at Pixar.com, but there’s something about having them all in one collection, in one place and on one disc that makes this collection worth owning.
Collecting all thirteen of Pixar’s short films to date, Pixar Shorts include The Adventures of André & Wally B, Luxo Jr, Tin Toy, Red’s Dream, Knick Knack, Geri’s Game, For The Birds, Mike’s New Car, Boundin’, Jack-Jack Attack, Mater and the Ghostlight, One Man Band, and their newest short, “Lifted.” Written and animated with as much care as their feature length films, the shorts can range anywhere from under a minute to over five. Regardless of their age, there’s still a certain amount of charm to the Pixar shorts that, like the film, can entertain those of any age.
Perhaps the best aspect of this DVD is that nearly all of the shorts have commentary. In fact I shouldn’t say “nearly” as Jack-Jack Attack is the only short to not have commentary. Disappointing that they couldn’t grab the crew for a short track but considering how hilarious the short is I found myself rewatching it again even without the commentary.
All of the commentaries tackle the basic aspects one would think: issues with the animation (especially in the earlier shorts) and the inspirations for the shorts. John Lasseter in particular, both on commentaries and on the history of Pixar featurette, is always offering up some cool tidbit about one of his shorts or the history of Pixar. Each one of the directors makes use of the short time the featurette runs and there’s very little dry space; the only awkward commentary is on “Mike’s Car” which is just the directors children babbling about nonsense and randomly picking out moments of the short to re-iterate. Fun to listen to but I guess there wasn’t much creative thought that went into the short to require the director to comment on it.
What’s odd is, while I didn’t think I had, I actually had seen all of these shorts previously. I then realized my brother had bought a VHS tape of the Luxo Jr., Red's Dream, Tin Toy and Knickknack shorts around the time of Toy Story’s VHS release. I only mention this because even though I’d seen the early shorts before, they’re still a lot of fun to watch. Seeing how far the world of CGI animation has come since the days of Wally B is remarkable and this DVD is a great visual timeline to see how things progressed. Recommended.
Normally a DVD of short films wouldn’t garner much praise but this is Pixar we’re talking about. All thirteen shorts come in a standard amaray case with very nice red cover art that really pops out at you. Inserts for Disney promotions and a small list of disc contents accompany the single DVD inside; menus on the disc don’t represent the packaging at all and rather subtle in nature, not screaming out at you like the red cover for the DVD does.
Video and audio is strong for this release as well. The video can range from grainy and VHS-looking to crystal clear; but again, that’s because of the wide range that this DVD covers (two decades worth of shorts). Audio is clean and clear throughout and some of the more modern shorts even pack a serious surround sound whallop—I hadn’t watched Jack-Jack Attack with a subwoofer before and it made me jump when he burst into flames.
Moving onto the extras we have a collection of Sesame Street shorts featuring the lamps from Luxo Jr. I’ve never seen these before and it’s cool that they were able to find these little off-shoots of Pixar animations that appeared in other forms of media.
The coolest, and longest, extra on the set, however, is the “Pixar Shorts: A Short History” featurette that acts as a quick summary of the companies existence throughout the past couple decades. They detail their start in a hallway to their gradual expansion and eventual partnering with Disney for Toy Story. The featurette has a ton of archive footage from the Pixar animation buildings as well as. Another aspect I found interesting was that modern-day handheld computers have a ton more processing power than the incredibly high-end and expensive computers that Pixar was using (and sold). I know the rapidity of computer development over the years has been astronomical but to think that a Pixar short was made on a room filled with computers that didn’t have an iota of what we use today is just mind boggling.
Overall this Pixar Shorts DVD is a must-own. Kids will love seeing the shorts, even the earlier ones. Sure they’ll enjoy the newest ones more but the older shorts are equally as impressive as the new ones, especially when you think about the things Pixar did with them that blazed the trail for modern day CGI animation. It’s that reason alone I both simultaneously love and hate Pixar; they created a wonderful new form of animation but it has all but rubbed out the standard 2D animation in theaters. Still, I look forward to each and every Pixar production and I’ve yet to be disappointed. Like their films, the shorts on this collection are wonderful to watch and have as much entertainment as they do heart. Highly Recommended.
Pixar Shorts is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.