Volume 3 is the latest release in the Pixar Short Films Collection series, presenting 13 shorts that were released between 2012 to 2018. The feature film the short has been paired with will be identified in parentheses and can be found on its home media release. Presented in reverse chronological order on the menu, the following shorts come with optional introduction and audio commentaries:
Bao (Incredibles 2) is notable as the first Pixar short directed by a woman, Domee Shi. It is a touching, humorous story about the relationship between a mother and son. Academy Award-nominated Lou (Cars 3) is about an unusual, magical creature, comprised of toys and other things lost by children at an elementary school. Lou teaches a lesson to a young bully and to viewers. While the story has a nice message, it makes no sense why none of the children ever bothered to look in the Lost and Found box for their stuff. Academy Award winner Piper (Finding Dory) tells a sweet story about a baby sandpiper that combats its fears in order to learn about the world and obtain wisdom. The art is stunning, most notably the photorealistic sand and crashing waves.
The title cards of Academy Award-nominee Sanjay's Super Team (The Good Dinosaur) note it is (mostly) based on a true story and centers on a recently immigrated Hindu family. Sanjay, the young boy is more interested in cartoons and superheroes than he is his father’s religion. That is until he imagines the old gods as superheroes and finds a connection he’d never felt before. The animation is standard Pixar (with some 1990s Playstation graphics thrown in) as is the story, which is to say it's very well made and filled with mirth and heart-string tugging, but it never quite moved me the way their best stuff does.
Riley's First Date (Inside Out home-video release) shows the minds of different characters as Jordan comes over to take Riley out skating. It's funny to see different perspectives of nervous parents and an indifferent kid. Lava (Inside Out) is an odd, love story between volcanoes that offers a simplistic and bad-faith idea that all you need to do is wish someone comes into you life.
“The Radiator Springs 500 ½” is the fourth and final episode of Tales from Radiator Springs, which aired on the Disney Channel. Owen Wilson reprised his role Lightning McQueen for the first time in the series. Some hooligan cars show up to challenge Lightning to a race, but a wrong turn puts them all in danger. The vehicles get into some perilous situations but the most memorable aspect is how terrible Mater's corny jokes are.
The premise of Party Central (Muppets Most Wanted) is an idea cut from Monsters University where Mike and Sully help their frat throw a party in inventive, funny ways. When Mrs. Squibbles catches them, it gets even funnier. The Blue Umbrella (Monsters University) is visually stunning in its photorealism. The story finds a blue umbrella falling in love with a red umbrella during a rainstorm. In addition to the short's outstanding appearance, the creativity seen in the number of inanimate things brought to life is equally awesome.
The Legend of Mor'du (Brave home-video release) finds the witch from the film expanding upon the story Elinor told about the huge demon bear whose notorious acts include the taking of the left leg of Merida's father King Fergus. Partysaurus Rex (3-D theatrical re-release of Finding Nemo) finds Toy Story's Rex playing with new toys in the tub but things get out of control when he tries to shed his party-pooper image.
Under “Mini Movies,” Marine Life Interviews (Finding Dory home-video release) includes clips of characters from the film talking about Dory with the footage made to appear like it's old and damaged. Miss Fritter's Racing School (Cars 3 home-video release) is a brief infomercial.
The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer. The colors pop off the screen in vibrant hues. Blacks are extremely inky and whites are bright. The image delivers a strong contrast. Some of the shorts that went for a photorealistic look, like Piper, exhibit more depth. Texture details vary depending on the director's vision.
The audio is available in 7.1 HD Master Audio and immerses the viewer within the on-screen worlds. Effects fill the surrounds and move across different channels to contribute to their sense of movement. The scores are robust and the instruments come through with great clarity. Dialogue is always clear and understandable. The shorts have a wide dynamic range and the bass delivers great oomph when called upon.
- Making Bao (6 min) - Shi talks about bringing the short to life
- Caricature: A Horrible Way of Saying “I Love You” (4 min) - a look at how Pixar artists draw one another, including a peek inside at Mean Caricature Night.
Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 3 is a must-own for animation fans just like the previous volumes. It's evident the studio takes as much care with creating their shorts as they do their features and they have a similar, high ratio of success. The cartoons look and sound great on Blu-ray.