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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this collection of 13 short animated movies is entirely wholesome, with just a few minor moments that might bother the most sensitive children. The elements of surprise, exaggeration, and slapstick are common in many of the shorts, so be prepared to see some mild cartoon violence. In "Mike's New Car," characters from Monsters Inc. have difficulty operating a car and the monster Mike gets smashed by the car's hood, bumped against its running motor, and altogether frustrated and upset by the experience. In "Geri's Game," an older man plays chess with himself and fakes a heart attack to distract his opponent -- a twist of logic that might escape, or even slightly disturb, younger children. In "Jack-Jack Attack" a babysitter has trouble with the baby from The Incredibles when he catches fire and shoots destructive laser beams. The humor in each of these films overwhelmingly overshadows any potential dark side.
What's the story?
The stories of the 13 short films in this collection vary from simple to more complex. Several include characters from feature-length Pixar films, like Cars, Monsters Inc., and The Incredibles. The first bunch of films do not have dialogue. Even though the films are short, some pack a great deal of action or emotion into a few minutes. In "Tin Toy," a brand new plaything is both fascinated and terrified of a crawling baby. When he seeks shelter under the couch, he finds dozens of other terrified toys hiding out too. "Boundin'" tells the story of a freshly shorn lamb who's getting teased by other animals for the way he looks. A friendly Jackalope teaches him to brush off the teasing and find a way to enjoy himself -- by jumping up and down joyfully. "For the Birds" shows a bunch of little birds chirping away on a wire, until they're interrupted by a bigger bird. They reject the big bird and pay the price when they get flung off the wire dramatically.
Is it any good?
Each of the short films is a tiny jewel of animation and filmmaking. The 13 films improve chronologically, too, with the first one being more of a record of Pixar's early work and the later ones being masterful combinations of visuals and storytelling. Some of the shorts will be more appealing to children, like the slapstick antics of "Mikes New Car," and some might appeal more to adults, like "Lifted," which chronicles the attempts of a young alien to perform a complicated human abduction under pressure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about inanimate objects as characters. Who are the lamps in the Luxo short -- mom and kid, older and younger friend, some other combo? What makes you think that? Are there other household objects that you think could be good characters?
Talk about imagination. Many of these shorts and the Pixar features came out of a discussion between friends. Can you imagine what those conversations were like? Have you ever had wild, imaginative discussions with friends? What happens when you try to draw or otherwise create the things you imagine?
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