For the Birds (2000)

Genre: Family, Animation, Short, Comedy

Director: Ralph Eggleston

Writer: Ralph Eggleston

Rating:  ★★★★½

Pixar were developing quickly making huge big-selling popular feature films, with their shorts somewhat taking a back seat three years after their last (Knick Knack 1997) it was up to new Ralph Eggleston to buck the trend with “For the Birds”. To say Pixar were developing quickly is somewhat an understatement, the quality, graphics and all round animation is flawless. As always it’s witty, fun and sweet all with that magical Pixar feel making you feel like a child again, that’s if you’re not already one. Ralph Eggleston’s story follows a group of “stuck up” snooty birds sitting on a telephone wire, they mock a recently arrived “goofy” looking bird but get there just desserts in a shocking accident. You find yourself rooting for the goofy bird, feeling sympathetic and when he gets his revenge you laugh and cheer and then of course after realise it’s just a short film.

It was Eggleston’s first edition for Pixar and lasted a very entertaining enjoyable three minutes. Being released with Monsters, Inc. a very popular feature it stole some of the headlines winning an Oscar, for Pixar that was two successful wins in the last two attempts. What makes me love For the Birds so much was the way you could relate to the big goofy bird being shunned upon and when karma played its role you couldn’t help but laugh and smile. In a way from the story, quality and characters it is flawless however I do feel there’s an element missing nevertheless its brilliant and simply great.

Let me know you views, watch it here.

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Knick Knack (1989)

Genre: Animation, Short, Family

Director: John Lasseter

Writer: John Lasseter

Rating: ★★★★

Knick Knack is another Pixar animated short, again the ever so talented John Lasseter playing creator. In my opinion this is the most hilarious and funny story yet providing many laughs, its also accompanied by a fun feeling score only adding to the entertainment. This time Pixar bring a bunch of holiday souvenirs to life as the story follows a snowman trapped in a snow-globe who attempts to escape in order to attend a hot party with the other souvenirs however the dome around him causes more than a few problems. As the other souvenirs watch on the snowman attempts to smash the dome, drill through the globe and even blow it up but that only leads to more trouble as the globe frantically leans over the edge of the shelf. The attempts provide us with many laughs and the persistency of the snowman only makes it more entertaining.

Knick Knack is certainly funny with a good inventive story by John Lasseter but for me the adding of the fun score is why this animated short stands out from those previously made. More so the addition of more “characters” and those extra details just show how amazing Pixar have progressed. The short film of just over three and a half minutes was released with the feature of Finding Nemo (2003) but surprisingly didn’t win an academy-award nor get a mentionable nomination. Out of those watched so far I think that Knick Knack is my favourite just for its fun feel, it also has more of that modern Pixar touch. Simply brilliant and unique.

Let me know your views on Knick Knack, watch it here.

Red’s Dream (1987)

Genre: Family, Short, Animation

Director: John Lasseter

Writer: John Lasseter

Rating; ★★★½

In 1987 came Pixar’s third short film and with that they decided to be more adventuress than those previously made. Red’s Dream is funny and adorable with “Family” written all over it, once again bringing life to most common objects this time Pixar choosing a bike. Sitting in a shop we see Red the unicycle hidden away in the for sale corner, sleeping away we enter his dreams of a better place and life. This is where the humour begins as we see Red’s dream about becoming a circus act juggling away and stealing the show from a clown. The animation of this short is again amazing for 1987 with improvements on those previously made.

John Lasseter also behind Luxo Jr. is the man behind Red’s Dream writing and directing once again. This time the short is four minutes long, twice as long as previous films made giving Lasseter the chance to produce more magical stuff. Red’s Dream is a simple story but once again it has that brilliant execution and although simple it makes a lot of laughs and even some sympathetic “awww’s” from the audience as poor old Red sits there in the for sale corner. Although not released as part of a feature this short film has made cameos in many Pixar films over the years. Fun, inventive and again simply brilliant showing the progress Pixar have made and foreshadowing those great things to come.

Let me know your views on Red’s Dream – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA1vZ8wJTys

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family

Directors: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich

Writers: Pete Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, Ralph Eggleston, Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, Rhet Reese, Johnathan Roberts

Staring: John Goodman, Mary Gibbs, Billy Crystal

Rating: ★★★★

Due to the recently released sequel “Monsters University” I decided to revisit one of my childhood favourites. “We scare, cause we care” is the slogan of the monsters in Monsters, Inc. Pixars animated creation states the legend that monsters do exist in the closet is obviously true. With another inventive storyline and some adorable lovable characters here’s a film that is for everyone in the family. I loved this film when watching it twelve years ago as a kid and I love it now as a seventeen year old.

The story follows the two lovable monsters James P. Sullivan (Sulley) and Mike Wazowski voiced by John Goodman and Billy Crystal. The two work for Monsters, Inc. the utility company who powers the city with the screams and goosebumps of children. Sulley big, blue and the companies best scream-generator accidentally finds trouble with cute, little two-year old girl Boo as he accidentally lets her into the city, Monstropolis . Mike, short, green and one-eyed has to help Sulley get Boo back home before the city gets a big shock. The twist in the plot of Monsters, Inc. is that it’s the monsters who are scared of the children and not the other way round.

The story feeds of the relationship between our adorable monsters and Boo, how the three together become close leading to a watery-eyed moment when it times to say goodbye. The other characters in the film purely represent those In the work place making the film more relatable for the adults. Monsters, Inc. released after the two Toy Story’s shows once again the brilliant, inventive imaginations of Pixar as well as their technical skills with their animation.

Just like other Pixar films it provides plenty for the family, as a child the characters alone were enough to entertain me but the silly gags and behaviour of our monsters create many chuckles. Like most children films there are also many adult humour moments creating those sneaky laughs that you miss if you’re a kid. Before viewing kids were kept awake at the thought of scary monsters hiding in the closet, after watching they will be jumping in looking for the door to meet Sulley and Mike.

Monsters, Inc. is a film that has just like most Pixar Films set a template for future family films, I personally love it and its one of my favourite animated films of all time. It has it all, lovable characters, a great storyline, laughs and an ending that leaves you with a lump in your throat no matter how old you are. I hope Monsters University is half as good as this film and does the franchise some justice, if you haven’t already seen this film then you’re missing out.