Disney+ short film anthologies
SparkShorts * Short Circuit * Pixar Popcorn * Launchpad

SparkShorts, on YouTube & Disney+
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The first three of these Pixar shorts were released on YouTube from February 4 to February 18, 2019. (The three shorts previously had a limited release in 2018.) On November 12, 2019, they, along with the fourth short, were released on Disney+, where all subsequent SparkShorts would be released. Most are CGI, but some are traditionally animated.

tek's rating: ½

Purl (CGI; 8:43 on YouTube / 12:04 on Disney+)
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Caution: spoilers.

So... an anthropomorphic ball of yarn named Purl gets a job at a company called B.R.O. Capital. At first, it's almost easy to dismiss the fact that all the men who work there are shocked by her presence and generally dismissive of her as being because she's a ball of yarn. But given the name of the company and the fact that she's the only female employee there, it's just as obvious that the film is an allegory for how women are treated in the workplace. Anyway, Purl soon finds a way to fit in: by completely reinventing herself, from her appearance to how she talks, acts, and jokes, just like one of the guys. (One of the really shocking and amusing things about this film is there is actually some risqué humor that is definitely not kid-friendly.) Of course, it's unfair that she has to change everything about herself in order to be accepted, but she does eventually find a reason to be herself again. And there's a happy ending that leaves me with a sense of hope (albeit surreal) for inclusiveness and diversity in the real world.

tek's rating: ¾

Smash and Grab (CGI; 8:07)
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Two robots (who don't speak) work together in the engine room of a futuristic train, tossing some sort of energy minerals into the engine. Soon, they start using the mineral rocks to play a sort of sport. But when they try to high-five each other (not that they have five fingers, or anything), they find that they cannot, because they're both connected to tethers that deliver their own energy from a power source somewhere above them. One of the robots devises a way to escape their constraints, but then security robots show up to stop them from escaping from the train itself. I won't say how it ends, but... it was kind of a sweet short, I guess. And I liked the animation. But the story didn't really move me enough for me to really care that much. It was just okay.

tek's rating:

Kitbull (8:57)
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The film has no dialog. A stray kitten meets a pit bull, which at first the kitten doesn't trust at all, even though it obviously wants to be friends. As the kitten slowly learns to trust the dog, the film becomes increasingly cute... until suddenly it turns very dark, for a reason I won't spoil. But through that darkness, the friendship (and the film) becomes truly beautiful.

I have no idea how to rate this film.

Float (CGI; 9:56)
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A father (presumably single) discovers that his baby can fly. The neighbors seem shocked, and the father is scared for his son. The story soon flashes forward to when his son is a young boy, and the dad is still trying to make him appear "normal." The father eventually has an outburst of frustration, which he immediately regrets... and learns to accept his son as he is. I've read that the film is a metaphor for autism, or really for anything that makes some kids seem "different." It's definitely an affecting film, though I'm not sure how effective it actually is. Not that it really could be expected to fully convey the gamut of difficulties for both father and son over the course of years in such a short run time (six minutes, without the credits). And it was, as I expected it would be, difficult for me to watch. But I suppose it's a worthwhile film, whatever its limitations.

I have no idea how to rate this film.

Wind (CGI; 8:41)
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So... there's no dialogue. But there's a boy and I'm guessing his grandmother, living on a floating rock, with other rocks of various sizes floating all around, and sometimes the boy floats, too, and collects junk he finds floating around, so he and his grandmother can build a sort of rocket ship, which is just big enough for the boy to fly away in, up out of the sort of crevasse they live in with all the floating rocks and junk. And I have absolutely no idea what any of it means.

I have no idea how to rate this film.

Loop (CGI; 11:29)
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At a summer camp, a counselor assigns a boy named Marcus to go canoeing with a girl named Renee, who doesn't speak, though she does make vocalizations. And she frequently plays a ringtone on her phone. Marcus is frustrated because he never has any idea what she wants to do, and I'm sure it's frustrating for her, too. And I don't really know what else to say. It's definitely... well, I guess it's a good film. And I suppose Marcus learned some empathy, or whatever. But just like with "Float," I feel like the issue being addressed is too big to adequately deal with in a short film like this. And it makes me sad.

tek's rating: ½

Out (CGI; 9:34)
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On the day that a young man named Greg is about to move far away from home, his parents unexpectedly show up to help him pack. He's afraid to tell them that he's gay, and has a boyfriend named Manuel. And things are complicated by... um... a magical dog and cat who are watching over the scene, and imbue Greg's dog's collar with magic that ends up causing Greg and his dog to swap bodies. Hilarity ensues. But also there's a happy ending. (And of course they eventually return to their proper bodies.) It's certainly weird, but very heartwarming. (Also I got a weird sense of deja vu, like I'd seen a similar story before, albeit without the body swapping. But I can't remember whether I actually have seen something like this before, or it's just my imagination.)

tek's rating:

Burrow (6:19)
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This was originally intended to be released theatrically with the movie Soul, but that movie ended up being released on Disney+ instead of in theaters, because of Covid-19. So, this short also debuted as a SparkShort on the same day.

A rabbit tries to burrow underground to build a home she's designed for herself, but keeps running into other animals who already have (much nicer) homes where she's digging. And that's all I want to say except that it has a happy ending. It was a cute film, I guess, but I just couldn't get all that into it.

tek's rating: ½

Twenty Something (10:52)
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On her 21st birthday, Gia's older sister takes her to a club for drinks and dancing. But Gia has trouble accepting herself as an adult. In fact, she envisions herself as her 10 year old, 16 year old, and one year old self in a trench coat. I can't say I've ever had quite the same experience, but I think any adult can relate to seeing themself as still a kid. The short is fairly amusing, with an upbeat ending.

tek's rating: ½

Nona (CGI; 8:49)
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Nona is totally pumped to watch a wrestling show on TV, but then her young granddaughter is unexpectedly dropped off for her to watch. This constantly interferes with her ability to watch the show, which is aggravating. But ultimately there's a fun and cute ending to the story. Plus a bonus scene after the closing credits. I definitely felt bad for Nona, but I'm glad she found a different kind of happiness.

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