On January 22, Disney+ added Pixar Popcorn to its catalog. Consisting of ten shorts, Pixar Popcorn provides bite-sized showcases of some of the studio’s most endearing characters, be it The Incredibles‘ Parr family, Soul‘s Joe, or Finding Nemo‘s Dory. The series is undoubtedly a treat for fans, but the shorts are limited in what they can do in terms of animation and storytelling; consequently, they mostly come across as inconsequential (but still entertaining) filler.
Along with its award-winning feature films, Pixar has crafted plenty of mesmerizing shorts throughout its existence, and the SparkShorts initiative has inspired some of the studio’s most ambitious mini-projects. Currently, eight films have been released through this program, all of which can be viewed on Disney+. Which is the best according to IMDb?
8 Purl (6.5)
Released in 2018, Purl introduced the world to the SparkShorts program. The movie follows an anthropomorphic ball of yarn as she enters her first day of work at a company filled with human employees. Unfortunately, Purl is ignored until she adapts her behavior to fit in with the crowd, losing herself in the process. While this initially works, Purl has a change of heart once a new ball of yarn joins the office.
With decent but bog-standard animation for a Pixar project and a story with a good but telegraphed message, Purl struggles to leave much of a long-lasting impression. It is a perfectly serviceable way to spend ten minutes but that’s all.
7 Smash And Grab (6.7)
The second SparkShorts film, Smash and Grab tells the sweet tale of two robots who just really want to give each other a high five. Unfortunately, that will require a heist, a nailbiting battle, and a near-death experience.
Told without any dialogue, Smash and Grab accomplishes a lot in its short runtime, even if it mostly treads familiar ground for Pixar. The short does a marvelous job showcasing the friendship between these two robots, something it manages to accomplish within the span of two minutes.
6 Loop (6.8)
As these shorts showcase the voices and individual talents working at Pixar, they tend to tackle themes that might not feature in the studio’s more mainstream productions. Loop centers around a non-verbal autistic girl, Renee, and her attempts to communicate with her canoe partner, Marcus.
Loop certainly covers a unique subject for animation, and the movie’s depiction of autism is realistic, sensitive, and informative. This aspect elevates Loop‘s otherwise rudimentary storyline, one that mostly serves as a catalyst to highlight Renee’s sensory impairment.
5 Wind (7.1)
Pixar’s talent for inciting tears is thoroughly documented, but these instances stick because they are backed by genuine emotions and real situations. Set in a bleak and nightmarish world, Wind follows a boy and his grandmother as they eat potatoes and try to survive. Eventually, they find the tools to escape their hell and reach greener pastures, although such a journey comes with its own sacrifices.
A metaphor for immigration and a tribute to those people willing to abandon their own futures for the sake of others, Wind is heartbreaking.
4 Float (7.4)
Even if most circumstances do not usually involve an airborne toddler, Float‘s depiction of a parent who fears that their child will be bullied or rejected for being different is relatable. In order to hide his son’s tendency to float, the film’s dad protects his boy by keeping him on a leash. The parent’s anxiety prevents Alex, the son, from being himself.
Told almost exclusively through visual cues rather than dialogue, Float wears its humanity on its sleeve as it emphasizes the importance of acceptance.
3 Burrow (7.5)
Utilizing a hand-drawn art style, Burrow oozes charm. Revolving around a rabbit that wants to build a burrow but ends up ashamed by her own plans when she meets some of her potential neighbors, Burrow is all about not judging a book by its cover and the value of accepting help.
More lighthearted than most films released as part of the SparkShorts program, Burrow is an absolute delight. The short’s art style allows it to stand out from Pixar’s other movies, while its message is simple but effective.
2 Out (7.7)
As the first Pixar-related project to center around an LGBT+ character, Out is undoubtedly an important film. The fact it also happens to be really good just sweetens the whole package. Greg and Miguel are planning to move, but the former has yet to come out to his family. When his parents show up to help with the packing, Greg inadvertently wishes to switch bodies with a dog. Naturally, hilarity ensues along with a few gentle tugs at the heartstrings.
Although the film takes its subject matter seriously, Out maintains a light and breezy tone throughout, which is amplified by its colorful visuals.
1 Kitbull (8)
The third short released in the series, Kitbull was the first to truly take advantage of the freedom afforded by the SparkShorts program. Not only is its use of traditional animation a departure for Pixar, but it also goes to places that might be considered too dark for the studio’s feature films.
Generally, Kitbull is about the unlikely relationship that forms between a kitten and a pit bull. On the surface, that might sound fairly unspectacular, but Kitbull touches upon animal abuse with a brutal honesty typically reserved for subversive projects like Watership Down. Obviously, Kitbull is nowhere near as graphic as that film, and it also ends on a hopeful note, but Pixar’s short gets the message across just as clearly.