How many times will you cry watching the latest collection of Pixar Short Films on Blu-ray? Your mileage may vary, but “Bao” opens the program on a strong note, turning on the waterworks with its heartwarming story of a parent’s loving protectiveness, and culture clash. Directed by Domee Shi, the short also represents a step forward in the traditionally male comapny; it’s the first short film from Pixar to be directed by a woman, and, along with “Sanjay’s Super Team” on this disc, one of the first shorts to be helmed by a person of color.
Voume three of the “Pixar Short Films Collection” gathers eleven short films from 2012-2018, some of which were shown theatrically, some of which were previously available as bonus features on earlier home video releases. Five of the eleven shorts utilize previously established characters, such as the hilarious “Partysaurus Rex” starring the green dinosaur from “Toy Story,” or the ho-hum “Radiator Springs 500 1/2,” created for the Disney channel’s popular “Cars Toon” series.
What makes most of these short films special is the immense amount of creativity and personal storytelling that goes into them, such as the aforementioned “Bao,” and even something like “Lou,” about a mysterious playground creature whose only desire is to give of himself until there’s nothing left, or “Sanjay’s Super Team,” another culture clash story from Indian-American director Sanjay Patel, who remembers a childhood spent in awe of super heroes. His father, intent on introducting the boy to Hindu traditions, frowns upon the American influence. But after a striking fantasy sequence involving the gods Vishnu, Durga, and Hanuman, little Sanjay finds new respect for his father’s prayer practices, and the two find common ground.
It’s interesting to compare these recent shorts to the company’s earliest efforts, documented some years ago on a “Volume One” collection. Where once the figures were expressively (and exclusively) geometric, the ability of Pixar’s computer artists to recreate sand, waves, and marine life, shooting in a documentary style from an imaginary long lens in the Oscar-winning film “Piper” will take your breath away, proving once again the old adage that good things often do come in small packages.