I have never quite been able to deduce why Pixar has put short films at the start of their feature-length ones, but the newly released Pixar Short Films Collection has allowed me to finally figure it out. These shorts are far too bland to stand alone.
A good deal of the shorts included in the collection are already available as bonus features on existing Pixar DVDs and the other, pre-success ones (with the exception of the very funny “Knick Knack” and “Geri’s Game”) the majority of them feel like rough tech demos that were never meant for public consumption. This work in progress feel that most of the DVD has could potentially be very fascinating in the way that a good B-side compilation is, but this collection is not even capable of that. While funny in three to five minute doses before the start of a movie, the fact is, the majority of these shorts are hardly interesting enough to sustain themselves for their individual run times, let alone the combined 54 minutes they comprise.
That’s not to say that all of the shorts are bad, some, especially “Geri’s Game” and The Incredibles off-shoot “Jack-Jack Attack” are actually very entertaining. The catch is, with the exception of “Geri’s Game”, the good ones are already available on existing DVDs that you most likely own if you are interested enough in Pixar to consider purchasing his collection. The earlier shorts, which are new to DVD, are incredibly bad. These are shorts that, while technically impressive for their times, do not showcase Pixar at their full strengths. These films, completely devoid of the humor and heart that Pixar has since become known for, come across as cold, soulless cartoons that should be nothing more than curiosities for only Pixar’s most rabid fans, eager to see the now colossal studio’s humble origins. I highly doubt that anyone other than extreme fans will be able to find anything to like in these early shorts, and they offer very little replay value.
The few special features on this disc do very little to sweeten the DVD package, and this is not a fact that should be received as bad news. A fairly standard featurette provides a “short history” of Pixar’s shorts, and provides exactly what you would expect of typical featurettes that gloss over any real substance in favor of offering everybody a chance to talk about how much they love working at their studio. Commentaries by the animators for each individual short are no more interesting than the rest of the features, as they focus far too much on the technical part of the process, and will only appeal to die-hard animation buffs. However, a series of odd “Sesame Street” segments featuring the lamps from Luxe Jr. are wonderfully bizarre, and should you leave you very entertained.
There is no way that I can truly recommend the Pixar Short Films Collection. The majority of its good shorts are already available on DVDs that you most likely own, as mostly the Pixar obsessed will be the only ones that find this interesting in any way. Even at that, the price tag is too high (this is the same price as the much superior Ratatouille DVD and I was even hard on that one) and the run time is too short for me to suggest anything other than a casual rental. If you try to forget the standards of excellence that Pixar has come to represent, then you might be able to somewhat enjoy this.