‘Pixar Popcorn’ – A Ranking

This past Friday, Pixar released ten all-new shorts – the longest runs about three minutes – with little to no dialogue, each one containing characters from the studio’s previous films. Why? An article from Polygon tells me it was a quarantine experiment, and while I’m sure that’s a half-truth, ‘Pixar Popcorn’ was announced this past December as part of Disney’s Investor Day presentation. Essentially, it’s another layer of content being used to pad out Pixar’s subsection on Disney+. But is it good content?

The short answer is, the quality is about what you would expect from content that has no real purpose other than to be content. At one to three minutes in length, ‘story’ and ‘plot’ are on the backburner. Since ‘Pixar Popcorn’ only runs about 21 minutes overall, there’s also never any time to get lost in the shorts’ atmospheres. None of these shorts feel like they need to exist, because they don’t. And now for the long answer.

#10 – ‘Unparalleled Parking

Believe it or not, one of my favorite Pixar films to watch on a bad day is Cars. What can I say? I love the look of the world, the design of the characters, and I worked in Cars Land for seven months back in 2014. That film means a lot to me. This short is more along the lines of Cars 2, one of my least favorite Pixar films. We watch as several cars try to parallel park. That’s it. That’s the short. There isn’t any dialogue, either. And all your favorites show up, even Cruz Ramirez Miss Fritter. Yes, you read that correctly. There is no Cruz Ramirez, the female protagonist of Cars 3, but there is a cameo from the sentient school bus from the same film who somehow exists in a world without humans. Perhaps this was a short made for young kids, but if that is the case, make it long enough to actually hold a child’s attention for a while.

#9 – ‘Dancing With the Cars

You would think this would be a parody of the Disney-owned ABC show “Dancing with the Stars”. You would be incorrect. Instead we watch the citizens of Radiator Springs – minus Cruz Ramirez again, and with the addition of three random pit crew cars – dance to different styles of music being played by an enormous jukebox outside of Flo’s V8 Cafe as unrealistic lighting shines don’ from a non-existent light source. Seriously, Pixar, you’re better than this. Also, like the last Cars short, if this was meant for small children, which it really feels like it was, it needed to be longer and have dialogue. At least one “get ‘er done” or “kachow” would have been nice.

#8 – ‘A Day in the Life of the Dead

While Cars is one of Pixar’s most rewatchable films, Coco is one of Pixar’s best films, next to Toy Story 2 and Soul. I would have loved to have seen a short that followed a day in the life of a random denizen of the world of the dead. Instead, we get more silly stuff, like two skeletons losing control of their bike down a steep hill or a skeleton playing fetch with an alebrije using his own arm. This just wasn’t my type of humor. At all.

#7 – ‘Dory Finding

I don’t know what to write about this short because only one specific part of the short bugged me: Its use of Hanna-Barbera logic. If you’ve ever seen an old episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, you’ll remember the chase sequences where a character would enter through a door on the right side of the screen only to exit through a door on the left side. These sequences made no sense, and were just meant to be goofy filler. That’s what this short tries. Dory blows into a series of sunken bottles while baby crabs shoot out of the other bottles due to the forcefulness of her blow. I’ve never seen Pixar attempt this level of comedic absurdity, but I do hope they stop trying. It wasn’t good.

#6 – ‘Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love

‘Pixar Popcorn contains two Ducky and Bunny shorts. One is funny, the other isn’t. Neither, though, are awful. This short’s failure is that Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, Ducky and Bunny respectively, talk over each other for almost the entirety of this short. And the joke? A Ducky/Bunny version of Looney Tunes’ Rabbit Season/Duck Season. If I want to watch Looney Tunes, I’ll watch the new shorts on HBO Max. When I watch Pixar shorts and features, I do so because they give me what Looney Tunes and other animated franchises cannot.

#5 – ‘To Fitness and Beyond

This was a cute short. It’s basically just Bonnie’s toys (post-Toy Story 4) working out and failing miserably. There’s zero dialogue, but there’s never any reason for any. It’s just a cute little acknowledgement that after Woody left, life in Bonnie’s room was still the same as ever. Was it amazing? No, but it was cute and inoffensive!

#4 – ‘Chore Day’

All this is, is a day in the life of the Parr family as they do their chores in Incredible fashion. As one would expect in a movie of Pixar’s caliber, they find excuses for each family member to use their powers in fun, clever, and believable ways. The lack of vocals really sticks out in this short, as does the short’s length, but the idea and visual execution of that idea surprised me enough that I wished I could have seen more of this rather than more of the shorts I didn’t enjoy.

#3 – ‘Soul of the City

Okay, so I’m pretty sure this short is just deleted footage from Soul, but honestly, I’m completely okay with that. So what if scenes don’t mesh with one another? So what if cutting to a frantic hospital from a serene scene makes absolutely no sense? It’s still another chance to bask in the beauty that was Soul‘s presentation of New York. You can tell just how much time went into making New York Feel feel real. It would be lovely to have a short like this with modern renderings from every Pixar film, although I don’t believe that’s possible. But if they can, they should! I’d watch in a heartbeat.

#2 – ‘Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads

This is Key and Peele roasting Bo Peep’s three-headed sheep. I don’t know if this was improvised by the comedy duo, or if it was written by a writer, since no one specific is mentioned in the credits, but whoever wrote it did a great job. The comedy felt natural coming from those Key and Peele’s voices. I hope they make more of these. I would watch a 10 episode series of these!

#1 – ‘Cookie Num Num’

Wow, an Incredibles story that has nothing whatsoever to do with Jack-Jack. In fact, he’s asleep the whole short! And it’s great. We get a silent story in which Bob, Jack, and Violet fight over a cookie in the kitchen using their powers as Helen sleeps with Jack-Jack on the couch in the living room. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it uses the lack of dialogue as a plot point and tells a concise story in a condensed period of time. I was very impressed by the Incredibles shorts, and I wouldn’t mind a series on Disney+ about the Parr family fighting crime as a family. But I digress. This was the shorts series’ best short!

BONUS: The Pixar Logo

All ten shorts have a different Pixar logo animation. One of them doesn’t even end with the lamp jumping on the ‘I’. They’re all really clever for how short they are, while also having to incorporate popcorn in some way. Small details like this are why I love Pixar.

Now you’re ready to go forth and watch this shorts yourself on Disney+. I’d say watch them in the order I ranked them, but it’s much easier to just use the ‘play all shorts’ feature.

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