It's safe to say Pixar does amazing things with animation. They've released hit movie after hit movie, almost guaranteeing to top the box office with every title. But while their movies get most of the attention, people often don't realize they started off making shorts before they ever made movies. And they've continued to do as good a job with their shorts as they have with their movies.
That leads to some questions, though. Which is the best? Which is the worst? It's kind of hard to judge after watching them all in a row. They're all fantastic in their own ways, after all. Still, the Internet (a gaping maw of lists and rankings) demands it must be done. So venture into this precarious territory together, and share how we think these shorts stack up together. Below you'll find mine, but please share yours as well.
13. Tin Toy
OH GOD WHAT IS UP WITH THAT BABY?! Like, this short has a sweet sentiment behind it, but it's completely eclipsed by this nightmare child. All those toys are totally justified in hiding from its flailing arms of terror. To be fair, the this was an amazing achievement considering the technology available at the time. So even though the baby still kind of scares me, there's no hate for Tin Toy.
There's nothing wrong with this short about rebounding from setbacks and not tying your self-confidence to something as fleeting as appearances, but it just doesn't strike the same chord. Perhaps its because there are actual words to the conversations in it, which is unlike every other Pixar short there is. It's just so uncharacteristic that it kind of kills some of the magic normally conveyed with just music and body language. Still good though!
11. Knick Knack
I'm all for this snowman getting with the girl he wants, but this short just isn't as deep as Pixar's later efforts would prove to be. It's funny, but just nothing special to me. Probably just a personal choice, really.
10. For The Birds
It's not cool to bully people, and this short proves that pretty handily. All those little peepy-birds sure learn their lesson as the product of their selfishness flings them into the air. And when they get their comuppance as frantic, naked chicks, it's pretty cute. Still, most of it is filled with ear-grating peeping, and it's not very dynamic. The whole thing kind of happens without a whole lot going on. Not bad necessarily, but that stops this short from earning a higher spot.
9. Red's Dream
In Red's dream, he's the star. It's him. Not even the clown who rides him gets to usurp the spotlight, where he juggles better than any unicycle before. But alas, it is naught but a dream... This short conveys a great story and looks pretty good considering it was Pixar's second effort ever. The clown looks a little scary, but that's more of a clown thing than a Pixar one.
8. One Man Band
The ability to be a one man band is impressive, as is this short. My main criticism falls on the second musician's choice of pant-instrument (maybe I'm just a child, but that thing is hella phallic). Otherwise, this short is a joy for the ears and the eyes. Plus the twist with the little girl is a nice subversion. I, for one, thought she was just going to smack them with the violin.
Slapstick is funny, but only to a certain extent. I love the concept of an alien learning to stage an abduction though, and I love the endless switchboard, too. But I can only watch a poor alien bump a sleeping man's head into a wall so many times. Watching the house get put back together is pretty cool. It's a solid short, just not as good as what follows.
7. Geri's Game
Either Geri is a wily old coot or he's just lost his mind. Either is ok, because this one-man-chess game is pretty great. It's one thing to watch the short as if there actually are two players, but it's even better if you force yourself to remember it's only one old man playing both sides. Imagine being in the park and watching this old dude shambling back and forth to play chess with himself. And when he starts to lose/win, he fakes a heart attack so he can win/lose. A classic that never gets old.
6. Partly Cloudy
As long as you don't let your kids grow up thinking this is really where babies come from, this short is adorable. Not only is it full of babies (everything is better with babies), but you get a touching tale of friendship. Plus, I like how everything is actually made like Pegasus from Disney's Hercules. Who knew the Greeks were right after all?
5. Luxo Jr.
The one that started it all and gave Pixar their famous mascot. It's simple and isn't the most technologically advanced, but Luxo Jr. has heart, damn it! He hops and bops that ball around, and it's charming because lamps don't usually do that. And when he pops the ball by jumping on it, your heart breaks. But it's ok because he has another, better ball.
4. Day & Night
I find this short super clever, and the dichotomy of what areas are like during the day or at night is really interesting. There isn't really a story as much as there is a budding friendship-competition-thing, but that doesn't make it bad. Plus when they sync up and switch at the end, it's wonderful.
3. The Blue Umbrella
Pixar's most recent short is the love story between two umbrellas. That sounds kind of silly, but it's actually pretty well done. My favorite part is how all the different facets of the city have reactive faces, and how they work to save the blue umbrella when he gets blown away looking for the red umbrella. This one would probably be a little higher, too, if it was better than Disney's "Paperman" (which isn't on the list because Pixar wasn't involved *sigh*).
I know I said that slapstick only gets you so far, but this is really clever slapstick. And it made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions. The way the bunny uses the hat to get his carrot is always inventive, and the only plot hole in the whole short is why the magician just didn't give the rabbit his damn carrot. I mean, he got a better show out of it in the end, but he could have saved himself a lot of pain. Oh well. At least we can enjoy his torment.
1. La Luna
There is no short better than this. The tale of an Italian family who brushes little stars around the moon to change its phase is just precious. It's a coming of age story mixed with interesting family dynamics, and it's littered with more clever little moments than starslets on the moon. Plus, it's fucking beautiful. It makes me wish that the moon really worked that way.