PIXAR RELEASES OVER A BAKER'S DOZEN OF TREATS @ 21 November 2012 01:33 PM
Many of the Pixar principles of creativity have their roots in the concepts of Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and the people in their orbit. One of ways Walt was able to nurture talent, sustain characters, test new ideas and techniques, and generally keep the studio rolling, was to produce short films through the golden age until the '60s with occasional forays into later decades.

Pixar always does this, creating shorts to accompany their features and some of those released by Walt Disney Pictures, some for TV and others as special bonus material for home video releases. This is the second collection in the series and is a must-have for families and animation buffs alike.



For all ages and levels of interest, you get two excellent "Toy Story Toons" each of which are impressive considering how many characters they include in such a short time. There are also two "Cars Toons" starring Mater the tow truck -- one nodding to a future Pixar "Planes" series and another enhancing the back story of Radiator Springs, which ties in with the new Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure Park.

Three shorts present an aspect of their feature films' storylines from another point of view: BURN-E happens during WALL-E and Dug's Special Mission and George & A.J. occur during the course of UP. George & A.J., by the way, has the funniest audio commentary of all twelve -- in which a stentorian announcer relentlessly "oversells" the film.

All twelve films have commentaries (thank you!), many of them revealing how personal some of these films are to their creative staff. Partly Cloudy was inspired by the non-English speaking mother of its director (as well as Walt Disney's Dumbo). La Luna captures the  memories of the adults of its director's youth.

Personally, I think La Luna is the most beautiful of the films, with a breathtaking score -- reminiscent of that of Pinocchio -- by the amazing Michael Giacchino. (If only a soundtrack album of all these films was released!!)

Presto boasts the most classic treatment of the films, in that it has the wild humor and frenetic timing of the best Warner, MGM and Disney cartoon shorts. And My Friend, the Rat, which opens the set, is especially delightful for those of us who enjoyed the Disney factual animation/live action films, most directed by Ward Kimball. The design and the music are spot on. These creative people know their material and clearly love it.

Another wondrous extra are seven student films by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter, fun to watch but also fascinating while considering what magnificent futures would lie before these three icons -- and some likely roots of their subsequent films. You can also see how their sense of childlike wonder had not been beaten out of them by "too cool" peers or bitter adults.

Says Lasseter, with a chuckle, of his student days: "I was a bit of a procrastinator. The hardest part of making these films was getting them done, 'cause I would wait way too long to start my project! It's interesting now, having five sons. I go to them, 'I was a procrastinator.  Please don't be a procrastinator in your life!"

And for those who have DVD but not Blu-Ray, you still get the extra films -- and the commentaries on the DVD disc.

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