I could review the second season of The Dragon Prince but I’ll save that for a week when I actually have the energy to make through 9+ half hour long episodes, which may or may not happen in the near future. Work is tiring. And while I love watching these shows and movies, watching them for the purpose of review is work.
But luckily, Pixar has recently released three short films as part of their SparkShorts program. And those have all gotten a lot of press, and they deserve it. They cover a wider range of topics than the shorts attached to the feature movies, and have a wide variety animation styles.
And best of all, they’re all free on YouTube.
And let me tell you, what they’ve put out is generally wonderful. Like these are the types of films I’m looking for. This is what I want to see in my animated movies.
I’ll be focusing on the current releases, since more are expected to come in the future.
Out of all the shorts, this was my least favorite. Probably because it has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. The main character is a ball of yarn named Purl, who gets a job at a very male-dominated tech start-up. She is the only girl.
Though at first, she tries to be herself, she finds herself ignored by her male colleagues. And so she gives up flowers, glitter pens and her shape to fit in better. And she succeeds. She becomes flat, literally, and knits herself a suit.
For a while, everything is fine. And then, another ball of yarn starts at the company. Upon being mistaken for a guy, Purl realizes her mistake and becomes herself again. She reaches out to the new yarn, and brings her out to lunch with the rest of the group.
Not long after, the workplace becomes more equal with yarn and man working together.
And while that’s not a bad thing, I… I’m just really tired of these themes personally, with people acting as though they’ve come up with a new and groundbreaking idea. Also, I feel a bit insulted with women all being yarn; like they’re associating female with knitting. Why do we need an amorphous representation of womanhood?
And why is she basically like Mabel Pines? Like very goofy, likes sparkly things, and is very extroverted. It’s not a bad thing, but it makes her come across as a little immature. (Not that there’s anything wrong with liking pretty office supplies. I love them. Just want to make that clear.) But it feels like it’s equating femininity with childhood and creativity and masculinity with being grown-up….
It feels off.
I’m not looking for things to be offended by because I’m not offended by this video; just unimpressed. It feels less like a Pixar movie and more like the kind of student short film that somebody who wants to be accepted in to Pixar makes.
The animation was, of course, great, and the adult jokes weaved in were an unexpected and pleasant surprise but it’s too heavy-handed for me.
Producer: Gillian Libbert-Duncan.
Director/Writer: Kristen Lester
Smash and Grab
Did you like Wall-E? Then here’s the short film for you. This film, focuses on two unnamed robots who are working in the engine room of a train in some undefined future. The robots are stuck in their jobs.
They cannot even leave the room, as they’re connected to some kind of battery. If they disconnected, they would die. They pass the time by playing a version of baseball, with their future coal.
One day, they get the chance to escape, and they go on an adventure to the outside world, willing to risk everything in order to be free.
There are a few emotional moments, of course, and even without dialogue. Like even less dialogue, beeps and bloops than its predecessors, it’s easy to get connected with the characters. Somehow, the robots are very expressive.
It has a really cool style that I haven’t seen before.
And it’s a great journey to follow them on. According to Pixar wiki; the title is in reference to the robots’ names, which also describe their jobs. But names aren’t so important here.
Producer: David M. Lally
Director/Writer: Brian Larsen
I was so scared going into the one. I was sure someone, one of the characters was going to die. I mean, it’s a Pixar film about an abused pit bull and a stray kitten and how they become friends… Sad stuff, that’s Pixar’s bread and butter.
And much like Smash and Grab, there was no dialogue. The first character we see is an extremely tiny black cat, who lives in a cardboard box, in what seems to be a junkyard. She only has a stuffed elephant for company.
One day, the owner the home, a man’s whose face is never seen, brings home a pit bull puppy. The puppy is innocent and doesn’t really understand what’s happening. The cat, of course, is scared of the dog and vice versa.
Eventually, the dog frees the cat from some plastic rings and the two bond over playing with a bottle cap.
Then things take a turn; it’s revealed the owner is running a dog fighting ring and the pit bull isn’t that tough. One night, bloodied from a fight, the dog collapses inside his doghouse exhausted and the kitten snuggles up against him, securing their bond.
Then, they decide to escape.
I won’t say what happens, but you might be able to guess. I really liked this, even it was similar to Smash and Grab. I really liked the art style, which was more 2-D, than Pixar’s usually stuff.
It suited the film very well. Out of them all, I think this was my favorite.
Producer: Kathryn Hendrickson
Director/Writer: Rosana Sullivan
And that’s the scoop. Next week’s review will be: How to Tame Your Dragon: The Hidden World