In many DVDs, the commentary tracks and bonus documentaries are of interest only to diehard fans of the film. In the case of the Pixar Short Films Collection, the commentary and appended feature “The Pixar Shorts: A Shorts History” are the primary reason to purchase the DVD. The first five shorts represent the pre–Toy Story phase of Pixar’s history, when animation was produced specifically to demonstrate the capabilities of the hardware and software the company produced. (The animation department was but a miniscule component of the original Pixar company.) Hearing director John Lasseter and his co-creators talk about the start-up days is illuminating, and though the animation on several of the early shorts is strikingly rudimentary, it’s important to consider how technologically groundbreaking these pieces were at the time. Of the post–Toy Story shorts, Jack-Jack Attack (an appendix to The Incredibles) is the best, both in terms of animation and comic-timing genius, but all 13 films – and their associated commentaries – help define an evolutionary history of this remarkable studio.
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