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Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 1
Reviewed by Peggy Hailey, © 2007

Format: Movie
By:   John Lasseter
Genre:   Animated Shorts
Released:   November 6th, 2007
Review Date:   November 13, 2007
RevSF Rating:   8/10 (What Is This?)

I don't get out to many movies these days, but I try to make an exception for Pixar. The sheer skill level highlighted by films like Finding Nemo or The Incredibles is mind-blowing. But as much as I like Pixar's long-form experiments, I think I like their short films even more (apparently I never got over my love of Saturday mornings spent in the company of Bugs, Daffy, and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang). So I was really excited to get the chance to track my eyes all over this one.

Unsurprisingly, it's terrific. The disc consists of all 13 Pixar shorts released to date, from 1984's "The Adventures of Andre and Wally B." to 2007's "Lifted." The growth in technique and storytelling is visible in each film, but the leap in quality from "Andre" in 1984 to "Luxo Jr." in 1986 is breathtaking.

From there, all bets are off as the writers and animators seem to effortlessly top themselves every time. For my money, "One Man Band" tops the list, but "Lifted" and "For the Birds" and "Knick Knack" run a pretty close second. The folks at Pixar have a positive gift for wordless storytelling that loses none of its humor or pathos or emotional impact.

But the shorts themselves are only part of the story here. We also get commentary for 12 of the 13 shorts (only "Jack Jack Attack" has no commentary), mostly from the directors. The commentary here is, like commentary tracks in general, hit or miss. Sometimes, like for "Lifted," it's both informative and funny. Other times, like for "Mike's New Car," a funny idea (the directors' small children do the commentary) is allowed to drag on way too long.

Some of the commentary here is identical to that on previous releases, but others are new to this collection. All new commentary would certainly have added value to this disc for everyone who already owns most of these shorts attached to the various Pixar feature-length discs.

The Special Features are an aptly named documentary, "Pixar: A Short History," and some Luxo Jr. short-shorts done for Sesame Street. We spend a lot of time with John Lasseter in the documentary, but we also get to spend time with many other people, which is great.

We get a nice overview of how a computer hardware company ended up with an animation division, and the descriptions of the early shorts and their impact on software development and importance in animation history was fascinating. The short-shorts illustrate some basic principles like "front" and "back," and, although clearly aimed at a very young audience, manage to entertain.

If you go to the Sound Set-Up, there are two Easter Eggs. I only bring this up because they are the only Easter Eggs I have ever found all on my own. If I can find them, you can, too, and then you, too, can watch a short snippet of flags waving and a beach chair having its first encounter with water.

If you already own these shorts in other forms, then there aren't enough extras to recommend picking this up, especially at $29.99. If you don't, then you should definitely give this one a look-see; most of the shorts are good, a few are brilliant, and the extras are nice, but not spectacular.

Already own most of these shorts: 4

Don't own any? 9

Peggy often forgets that Finding Nemo is a cartoon.

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