THE SCREENING ROOM
By William Kallay
MOVIE: Excellent Pixar
shorts in one package
TECH SPECS: Various / Various
RELEASE DATE: November 16, 2012
Pixar has a winning formula in producing films that enchant
audiences. Not all of their films are perfect, but even the
mediocre ones still have moments of perfection.
The "Pixar Short Films Collection 2" illustrates the
brilliance of Pixar's storytellers, and on occasion, their
rare missteps. This is a fine line up of the animation
studio's most recent short films, and nearly every one of
them is delightful. And for extra fun, some student films by
Pixar alumni John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter
have been included on the new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.
Pixar placed itself, essentially, on the map with short
films. "The Adventures of Andre and Wally B" (1984) was
directed by Pixar co-founder Alvy Ray Smith and animated by
John Lasseter. The film showed that computer animation could
and would change the way we see animation forever. From that
point on, Lasseter would direct a number of Pixar shorts and
animation for feature films such as "Young Sherlock Holmes"
(1985) and TV commercials for Listerine and Tropicana.
After "Toy Story" was released in 1995 as the first
full-length computer animated feature, Pixar grew and still
continued making short and experimental animated films.
This latest collection is a wonder and showcases the charm
and storytelling capability of Pixar's animators. My
favorite out of the group is "Your Friend the Rat." By
combining traditional and computer animation, director Jim
Capobianco uses an "educational" approach to show humans
that rodents are friends instead of enemies. The story is
fast-paced, funny, charming and witty. It's as if Capobianco
was channeling the late animator, Ward Kimball. This film
has Kimball's oddball and quirky imprint all over it. That's
a high compliment. Yet Capobianco instills his own charm on
the film, especially with the funny lawyer talk toward the
"Presto," and "BURN-E" are very funny and charming, but they
mostly rely on one joke premises.
"Partly Cloudy" is harmless and sweet, but it mainly appeals
to those under the age of three.
"Dug's Special Mission" expands the story of "Up" a slight
bit, showing us how Dug met Carl Frederickson and Russell.
Dug is a great character and if you're a dog person, you'll
love all of the canine gags.
The one film out of the group that almost lost me was
"George & A.J." I had a feeling that it was a
proof-of-concept film. I was right. Thankfully, I watched it
with the director's commentary track. I did not care for the
film before. It's not easy watching storyboard footage,
after all. But the clever commentary track really made me
appreciate how good Pixar's animators are.
Similar to "Partly Cloudy," "Day & Night" can be mistaken
for a short film geared towards toddlers. That is a mistake,
because it's really aimed at all audiences and is very
charming. Pixar does an amazing job in CGI animation. It's a
shame that they haven't tried a full-length feature with
hand drawn animation as has been used in "Day & Night." The
combination of CGI and hand drawn (later done in a computer)
The gang from "Toy Story" comes back for "Hawaiian Vacation"
and "Small Fry." Both short films are very funny and
enjoyable. I really enjoyed "Small Fry," especially with the
lost toys support group. My daughter thought that Small Fry
was totally cute.
Part of the gang from "Cars" returns for "Air Mater" and
"Time Travel Mater." "Air Mater" is simply a plug for
"Planes." I did enjoy "Time Travel Mater," even though I'm
not really a fan of the "Cars" franchise.
The most elegant and beautifully animated short films is "La
Luna." I wasn't expecting much from it, yet it charmed me.
The simple idea of three generations of men working on a
magical job was done well here. The look and animation of
this film is remarkable.
I did have a few minor issues with this Blu-ray release.
Disney did not include a "play all" feature. Instead, you
have to go through each title individually in the main menu.
This is a cumbersome way of watching the Blu-ray. I'd rather
have it play through all of the films, especially if you
The Blu-ray picture is outstanding. Detail on nearly every
title on this disc is sharp and colorful. Even the student
films by the Pixar vets look great. Watch this disc on a
large flat screen and be prepared to have your eyes
tantalized by all of the short films. My personal favorite,
"Your Friend the Rat," showcases both the stunning picture
quality of different animation formats (and "film" scratches
and grain) and your display's picture quality. I've had the
DVD version of this short film and it has always looked
good. The Blu-ray version blows it away.
The Blu-ray has a number of audio options.* All of the
shorts sound excellent, but be aware that some shorts come
with Dolby Digital, DTS-HD Master-Audio, and Dolby TrueHD
soundtracks. Normally, Disney releases most of its Blu-ray
discs in high resolution audio like DTS-HD Master-Audio. For
whatever reason, Disney released this Blu-ray with lower
resolution Dolby Digital soundtracks on some shorts. This is
odd, as Pixar soundtracks are very dynamic and really shine
in the highest resolution audio format available. The Dolby
Digital soundtracks sound very good, but they're not in the
same league as DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD. This is
not a comment on the original Pixar soundtrack quality,
because they all sound very good here.
Here are the default soundtracks on this Blu-ray:
"Your Friend The Rat" (Dolby Digital)
"Presto" (Dolby Digital)
"BURN-E" (Dolby Digital)
"Partly Cloudy" (Dolby Digital)
"Dug's Special Mission" (Dolby Digital)
"George & A.J." (Dolby Digital)
"Day & Night" (DTS-HD Master-Audio)
"Hawaiian Vacation" (DTS-HD Master Audio)
"Air Mater" (Dolby TrueHD)
"Small Fry" (Dolby TrueHD)
"Time Travel Mater" (Dolby TrueHD)
"La Luna" (Dolby TrueHD)
Whether or not this Blu-ray is used for demonstration
purposes, or to keep the kids occupied, it's a must buy.
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photo: © Disney/Pixar. All rights
Best viewed on Google Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer