It is a wonder to me why Pixar just cannot get a break at the Academy Awards. Sure, their feature length films pick up nods, and often wins, in the animated category almost every year (sorry, CARS 2), but for some inexplicable reason, their short films only periodically pick up the nomination. They haven’t actually won in the Animated Short category since 2002’s FOR THE BIRDS. After sifting through their latest anthology, PIXAR SHORT FILMS COLLECTION VOLUME 2, you too will surely be scratching your head and wondering the same thing.
This second collection of Pixar shorts features 12 films that run about 75 minutes in total. There is filmmaker commentary on each film and the disc also features a few rare shorts from Pixar gurus, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Doctor. The most notable difference between the fare in this compilation compared to their last, is the abundance of films featuring characters from their features. Some of these films, including YOUR FRIEND THE RAT (a good natured history lesson about why rats are not the worst, featuring Remy from RATATOUILLE) or HAWAIIAN VACATION (a faux Hawaiian romp, featuring the folks from TOY STORY) stand strong on their own. Others, most notably the CARS and UP inspired shorts, seem more like after thoughts than stand alone ideas.
And then, there are four of the most endearing and wonderful animated shorts I’ve ever seen. Sure, most of the animated shorts I see are from Pixar, but that in no way takes away from how amazing these particular films are. PRESTO is a brilliant homage to Bugs Bunny, which features one hungry, little bunny forced to participate in a magic act in order to get his carrot dinner. Having had enough with playing for his pay, he decides to have a little fun with the magician’s act. PARTLY CLOUDY is a hilarious little piece about an unlucky stork who has to deliver all babies no one else wants to, like the electric eels and the baby crocs. LA LUNA, the latest Pixar short which screened before BRAVE in theatres this summer, is an absolutely gorgeous piece about a young boy finding his own path, reminiscent of “The Little Prince”. And DAY AND NIGHT, a wildly imaginative piece about the wonders that are particular to both periods of time, is by far my favorite of the bunch. Its genius is that while you delight in the spectacle, you are suddenly and subtly reminded that you should not fear what you do not know. How this particular film didn’t take home the Oscar, I will never understand.
The short film is an obscure art form. So much hard work goes into them and yet, rarely do audiences ever get to see them. Fortunately, Pixar not only continues to keep them alive in the eyes of the public, but they also continue to make great examples that will endure much longer than a lot of the disposable features out there today.