I think all of the shorts on this DVD can be found somewhere on Pixar’s other releases, but for those who love them and want to learn more about this aspect of the company’s history, this release should fit the bill. It includes: “The Adventures of Andre & Wally B,” “Luxo Jr.,” “Red’s Dream,” “Tin Toy,” “Knick Knack,” “Geri’s Game,” “For the Birds,” “Mike’s New Car,” “Boundin’,” “Jack-Jack Attack,” “One Man Band,” “Mater and the Ghost Light,” and “Lifted.” Many of the later ones played in front of Pixar’s full-length films in theaters, which was the company’s way of hearkening back to the old days of movies, when you always had a cartoon before the feature.
Watching these shorts in order, you can see the dramatic progression of Pixar’s technical abilities, which, of course, coincided with the rapid improvement of technology during the 23 years since they made their first one. Commentary tracks are included with all of the videos except “Jack-Jack Attack,” and an Easter egg allows you to see the wireframe animation for “Luxo Jr.,” whose smaller star now graces the Pixar logo seen before all of their films.
We also have four very short animation pieces that Pixar created for “Sesame Street;” they star the two lamps from “Luxo Jr.” Finally, there’s the 23-minute “The Pixar Shorts: A Short History,” which is a must-see for anyone who’s a fan of the studio. I’d also recommend it to those who don’t realize that Pixar, under a different name, was once part of Lucasfilm, among other fun historical facts. What if George Lucas hadn’t sold the division to Steve Jobs? Perhaps this animation revolution, which one can easily compare to the early days of Disney, would have never happened.
Before closing this review, I want to point to something John Lasseter says in the featurette. He relates a discussion he had with someone about the software he used to create “The Adventures of Andre & Wally B.” The person told him it was very funny and wanted to know what software he had used. Lasseter quickly realized that he was being asked what software package made the film funny. And we realize that Pixar’s incredible technical abilities mean nothing without the solid storytelling skills that they bring to every project.