Saturday, September 12, 2015

Movie Review: Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection Volume 1

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great shorts filled with laughs
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Modern Disney shorts
With a wide range of subjects
That all entertain

Twelve Shorts Brimming with Disney Magic

I must admit that I was hesitant to buy the two Pixar shorts compilations that have been released.  I had most of them from the various Blu-Ray releases of the films.  (Okay, so I didn’t hesitate too long, but the thought did cross my mind.)  However, the instant I heard about the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection I knew I had to get it because I hadn’t seen many of the shorts and knew I didn’t own them.  I’m glad I did because there are some wonderful shorts here.

This disc contains 12 shorts, with release dates ranging from 1999 up to 2015.  Yes, that means we’ve got some hand drawn animation mixed in with computer animation.  The shorts range from one about American legend “John Henry” to a new Goofy short “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater” and Mickey and Friends in “Get a Horse!” as well as the sequel shorts “Tangled Ever After” and “Frozen Fever.”

There are quite a variety of styles and subject matters covered in these 12 shorts, but all of them are good.  You can definitely tell that some of them are experiments in style.  That is especially true of “John Henry,” which features some artwork that has stitching on the edges and rough sketches on the character’s faces.  It works for the short, although I don’t know that I would want an entire animated feature that way.

A couple of the ones I hadn’t seen before feel like they could be part of either of the Fantasia movies.  “Lorenzo” is set to a Tango and features a cat whose tail comes to life thanks to a curse.  In classic Disney shorts fashion, it has a few “Don’t do this at home” moments, but it is lots of fun.  “The Little Matchgirl” is also all set to music, but it is a much more somber piece, in fact the most somber short on the disc.

The ones I had seen before, I really enjoyed watching again.  “How to Set Up Your Home Theater” harkens back to some of the classic Goofy how to shorts, and the results are hilariously funny, partially because they are so true.

Then there’s “Get a Horse!” which is a brilliant piece of animation.  It starts out like an old black and white Mickey short, complete with Peg Leg Pete, Minnie, Horace, and Clarabelle.  However, suddenly the characters start popping through the screen and winding up as 3D computer animated characters.  Any fan of classic Mickey needs to watch it.  The gags are wonderful and the result is a new classic short.

Fans of Tangled and Frozen will enjoy the respective sequels.  In the first, Flynn and Rapunzel’s wedding day almost turns into a disaster when the rings start to roll away.  You won’t believe what Pascal and Maximus go through to get them back.  There are so many great cameos from the film in this one.  “Frozen Fever” shows us that one kind of cold can still bother Elsa as she tries to create the perfect birthday for Anna.  Both shorts feature the return of all the original voices for a true treat.

Finally, there are the brilliant “Paperman” and “Feast.”  One features love at first sight and how paper plays a part in the couple getting together.  In the second, we see a man’s relationships grow and change from the viewpoint of his dog and the meals the dog gets.  Both are funny and touching and both are well deserved Oscar winners.

All the shorts here average 7 minutes or so, but they manage to give us full stories, good characters, laughs, and tender moments in that time period.  Obviously, some focus more on one than the other, but just because these are short doesn’t mean you aren’t getting a full story.

In addition to the 12 shorts in the set, you also get optional introductions to each short by the producers, directors, and writers (or some combination thereof) who worked on each short.  Each intro is just under a minute and gives some fun backstory and/or things to watch for.  The only other extra is a short documentary hosted by T.J. Miller on the process of creating these shorts.  At only seven minutes long, it feels like one of these shorts and really could have been much longer.  Still, it’s worth watching if you are a Disney animations fan.

The shorts included in the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection are fun, and I’m glad I have them as part of my collection.  I’ll enjoy pulling this out from time and time and watching them again, and any fan of Disney animation will feel the same way.

Included Shorts:
John Henry
The Little Matchgirl
How to Hook Up Your Home Theater
Tick Tock Tale
Prep & Landing – Operation: Secret Santa
The Ballad of Nessie
Tangled Ever After
Get a Horse!
Frozen Fever

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