Entertainment

Peek Behind the Scenes at Pixar and Win!

This month, Chronicle Books releases The Art of Pixar Short Films which goes behind the scenes of the small films that helped Pixar become an animation fan favorite. Many look forward to seeing these shorts when they accompany Pixar’s feature-length films in the theaters.

We asked author Amid Amidi, also author of Cartoon Modern and co-founder of Cartoon Brew to give us some behind the scenes trivia that he discovered while writing the book. When you’re done with the list, enter our contest to win a copy of the book and a copy of the Disney DVD, “Pixar Short Films Collection, Vol. 1” See the bottom of the post for how to enter.

10 Interesting Facts about the Pixar Shorts

1. The names of the characters in “The Adventures of André & Wally B.” are a nod to the names of the characters in Louis Malle’s art-house film “My Dinner with Andre.”

2. “Luxo Jr.” marked the first time a fully computer-animated film was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Animated Short Film.

3. In 2003, the United States National Film Registry selected “Tin Toy” as one of twenty-five films to preserve because of its “cultural, historical or aesthetic significance.”

4. The clown in “Red’s Dream” was cheekily nicknamed “Lumpy” by the crew members due to his awkward appearance.

5. When the film “Knick Knack” was re-released in 2003 in front of “Finding Nemo,” the “Sunny Miami” knick knack character and the “Atlantis” mermaid were re-rendered with cleavage reductions to make the film more family friendly.

6. Director Ralph Eggleston came up with the idea of “For the Birds” while he was an animation student at CalArts in the early-1980s, nearly twenty years before he made the film at Pixar.

7. “Boundin’” director Bud Luckey agreed to sing the song in his short film only after his first two choices for singers died.

8. Early in the design process of the animated short “Lifted,” director Gary Rydstrom held a crew party with two food items: Mallomar cookies, to help inspire the shape of the aircraft, and Jell-O, as a model for the skin texture of the aliens.

9. “Jack-Jack Attack” is based on an idea that was originally part of “The Incredibles,” but during the production of that feature, director Brad Bird “discovered the story had enough momentum without it” and decided to create the short as an extra for the film’s DVD release.

10. Joe Ranft, who was the original co-director of “Mater and the Ghostlight,” was tragically killed in a car accident during the making of the short. The short was completed by John Lasseter and Dan Scanlon. When “Cars” was released in 2006, the film was dedicated to the memory of Ranft.

Want to win a prize pack containing The Art of Pixar Short Films and a copy of the Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 1 DVD? Add a comment below with the name of your favorite Pixar short. Feel free to share why you love it so. Two winners will be randomly chosen to win a prize pack. Deadline is Tuesday, March 3rd at midnight.

April Whitney, Publicist & Amid Amidi, Author

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107 Comments

  • April, Publicist February 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Is it too obvious to say “For the Birds”? I love those little guys. I remember watching the first season of American Idol (just the early audition parts, ya know)and thinking that Brian Dunkleman looked like one of the the birds in the film. HA!

    I can’t participate int he contest, but I had to show my love For the Birds…:)

    Reply

  • lori February 24, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    geri’s game – beautiful story + animation.

    Reply

  • Zack February 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Geri’s Game and Presto are both aesthetic and comedy marvels (Presto especially left me utterly hoarse from laughter when I first saw it), but I’d have to say Luxo Jr. is my favorite. That the animators were able to bring so much character and emotion out of table lamps never ceases to amaze me.

    Reply

  • ren February 24, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    i love “knick knack” for the frustrated expressions but “presto” made me laugh more than any other short and for that i adore it.

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  • Wendi Gratz February 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I haven’t seen all of them, but I think Luxo, Jr. is my favorite. The first time I saw it I think I watched the whole thing with my mouth hanging open in amazement. No faces – and pitch-perfect emotion. How do they do it?

    Reply

  • Lolly February 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    I love Boundin’ for that silly sheep. And I love For the Birds because of all those adorable bird noises they make. I haven’t seen all the Pixar shorts, but these are two of my favorites.

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  • edina February 24, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Presto is definitely my favorite – the story and music went together perfectly!

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  • Jonel B. February 24, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Toss-up between “For the Birds” and “Geri’s Game”
    Both are so playful!

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  • jinnie February 24, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    For the Birds! I love how each bird’s character comes through their facial expressions.. they are so fun.

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  • Joyce February 24, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    One man band. I love music

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  • Thien-Kim February 24, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    I can’t remember the name of it, but my favorite is the one with older man playing chess with himself.

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  • Aimee B. February 24, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Boundin’…hands down. I just love the animation and the song!

    Reply

  • Tisa February 25, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Hard choice but my favorite is Tin Toy! ~ :)Thanks!

    Reply

  • mary grace February 25, 2009 at 10:55 am

    for the birds is by far my favorite. i’m not sure if it’s because of the content, or the memories associated with it :) my friends and i would go into fits of laughter resulting in stitches and tears while watching that clip. fun times :)

    Reply

  • Teresa February 25, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Geri’s Game. I had to go look it up – in my head it’s always been “The Old Man Who Loses His Teeth Playing Chess.”

    Reply

  • Cakespy February 25, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    This is so cool!! I loved getting the inside story. I’d have to say “Tin Toy”…I haven’t seen all of them but sure do love that one.

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  • Marina February 25, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    For the birds. That is my definite favorite.

    Reply

  • Heather February 25, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    What a fun prize! My favorite is Knick Knack, it was the first Pixar short I recall seeing and I just adored it.

    Reply

  • Thomas Huxley February 25, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    My favourite Pixar short is Lifted. It’s sci-fi, and absolutely hilarious. I could see a feature film coming out of it anytime.

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  • Mai February 25, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I love Boundin’ for its message–no matter what the circumstances are, your hopes and joy are always in your possession.

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  • Justin February 25, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    I don’t want to sound silly since it is their latest theatrical short, but my favorite has to be Presto. I was crying with laughter when I first saw it! Pixar did an amazing job with their tribute to classic cartoons. Just to spice things up, rounding out my top 3 are Lifted & BURN-E (because I absolutely adore WALL-E!)

    Reply

  • Jorge February 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    one man band…beautiful…

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  • Sant Arellano February 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    My favorite is Tin Toy, when I was 4 years old my grandma recorded Dumbo on a betamax cassette, when the film ended it kept recording. The network aired Tin Toy afterwards.

    I probably saw Dumbo and Tin Toy more than 100 times.

    Reply

  • Scott February 25, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    My favorite is One Man Band – I’ve anylized it to death and even wrote a paper on it in college (for a literary critiism course). Next in line is Presto: that short is filled with excellent character animation.

    Reply

  • Mark Grambau February 25, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Geri’s Game would have to be my favorite. It’s not the funniest one, it’s not the most beautiful, but I have such strong memories associated with it. I saw Toy Story in theaters for my 9th birthday, and Geri’s Game was the first Pixar short I had ever seen. I was enthralled. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that Pixar has been the primary motivating factor behind my desire to become a character designer. Now at age 22 with a degree in illustration under my belt, that desire is stronger than ever and my love of Pixar is overshadowed only by my love for the art of visual storytelling.

    That being said, thanks for releasing these great books on animation. I own three Pixar “Art of” books, as well as “Cartoon Modern.” I get inspired by them every time they come off the shelf.

    Reply

  • Mark Grambau February 25, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Correction – I got my films wrong – Geri’s game came out with A Bug’s Life. Regardless, I did see Toy Story for my birthday, and Bug’s Life for it as well two years later. Just got my dates wrong. I still associate seeing Geri’s Game with my understanding of Pixar as a studio and the dawn of full length 3D animation.

    Reply

  • Mel February 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Oh Pixar, you always make me laugh in a way that gets right to the point. It’s so hard to choose between such great things, but I’d have to go with The Birds. For me, the simple things are almost always the best, and this story hits the me right on the spot with laughter. Wonderful, wonderful.

    Reply

  • Chris February 25, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    For the Birds.

    I’ll never forget how funny, charming, and unexpected that film was the first time I saw it.

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  • J. Chad February 25, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I’ve always been a fan of Geri’s Game

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  • Winston Chee February 25, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    ‘One man band’ is the first to catch my attention and it was ‘One man band’ who brought me closer to Pixar’s animation. I simply loved the colors, the characters and background designs. I will extremely stunning. Most importantly, what amazed me the most, is how the director managed to squeeze such a wonderful script in this short amount of time. I salute to the director, I salute to Pixar. Pixar, you are always my inspiration.

    Reply

  • Kenneth Vandel February 25, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    “Geri’s Game” or “For the Birds” – can’t decide which I like the most :)

    Reply

  • Barry February 25, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I love “Lifted!” It’s nothing like anything Pixar had ever tried before. Its smart, funny and who hasn’t been in a situation where you thought you had it all under control but when the pressure is on it all fell apart.

    Brilliant!

    Reply

  • Fabio Ferrero February 26, 2009 at 12:48 am

    For the birds. Simple and hilarious. (but I like all of them!)

    Reply

  • Jamie February 26, 2009 at 1:52 am

    My favourite is Knick Knack. It was the first one I saw, and it really captured my imagination. I loved the stylisation and the humour. Others since have been wonderful, but I still have a special fondness for Knick Knack.

    Reply

  • Peter February 26, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Geri’s Game.

    It’s thought-provoking. We are all going to be olderand there will be a time when our days are gone.

    Reply

  • Shahin February 26, 2009 at 6:41 am

    The best pixar short film is definitly “one man band”! it’s a brilliant short with lovely characters, designs, musics and …
    it’s definitly the best !

    Reply

  • Jeff February 26, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Geri’s Game. It was the first Pixar short I had seen and I thought it was amazing. Close behind would be For the Birds and Knick Knack.

    Reply

  • Julia S. February 26, 2009 at 8:04 am

    My favorite has to be Boundin’, but I just love all of them. I’ve been following Pixar since I was in college in the 80′s (we studied their short films in class) and I’ve always looked forward to their short films – they’re all jewels!

    Reply

  • Benoit Jean February 26, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Knick Knack

    Because when I saw it the fist time at an Image du future competition in Montreal in the 90′s, I found the music very particular and almost annoying, but in a friendly kind of way, this music was simply staying in your mind! And those images at that period of time were simply mind bottling!

    Reply

  • Dave February 26, 2009 at 9:14 am

    My favorite Pixar short is Presto, not because it is the latest but because it reminds me of the great Looney Tunes cartoons that I grew up watching. It’s all there: the simple two character conflict, the wonderful animation (especially the strong poses!) and the music!

    Of course my favorite thing about Pixar’s shorts is that they keep doing them!

    Reply

  • Oswald February 26, 2009 at 11:12 am

    For the birds. It’s so simple, yet the many birds’ reactions are simply too much for one viewing. Next in line would be One Man Band.

    Reply

  • Jennifer Lies February 26, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I like Luxo Jr. and Red’s Dream.

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  • Mike February 26, 2009 at 11:46 am

    “Knick Knack” for that pessimistic ending.

    Reply

  • Lauren February 26, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    My favorite was by far “Geri’s Game.” The animation was impeccable and the story adorable. It might be close to my heart because I, too, used to play chess with myself (my little brother refused to play!)

    Great contest and I’m excited to check out the new book!

    Reply

  • Samir February 26, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    One Man Band – the girl’s facial reactions and movements are the best.

    Reply

  • Frank February 26, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Wow, tough choice! But if I have to pick one I would say Boundin’ its narrative arc is so charming and this short is so self-contained despite the short running time, LOVE IT!

    Reply

  • beth February 26, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I love them all, it’s so hard to choose… But Geri’s Game is one of my very favorites. That devilish sparkle in his eye always make me smile.

    Reply

  • Soue1313 February 26, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I want this SOO bad! My favorite would probably be Presto, because I love how magicians are so cool! : )

    Reply

  • oberlinjoe February 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    I really can’t say… I love them all so much! They are all example of brilliant story and stunning animation.

    Reply

  • Alok February 27, 2009 at 5:21 am

    For me it’s For The Birds, because of its awesome character animation and the depiction of mean human behavior in one of the most funniest ways..

    Though I doubt being an Indian I’ll be chosen a winner, but being an ardent Pixar Fan, hope & dreams play an important role in whatever I do…

    -Alok

    Reply

  • Alan February 27, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Although they are all great, one Man Band is probably my favorite. Ah the irony.

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  • Shikishiki February 28, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Lifted was by far my favorite short!! Just seeing the little guy go nuts with the endless rows of buttons and seeing the emotionless face of the proctor was hilarious!!!

    Reply

  • Tommy Rainwater March 1, 2009 at 9:45 am

    They are all wonderful, but my favorite so far is “Presto.” Pitch perfect. A timeless animated short with gorgeous art direction. Even the credits were beautiful.

    Reply

  • Rachel March 1, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Geri’s Game is hands down my favorite. that mischievous yet satisfied grin he has at the end brings me glee

    Reply

  • Doug T March 2, 2009 at 12:40 am

    My favorite Pixar short is “Jack-Jack Attack”. It fit the full length feature so well, and was a great surprise when my kids and I watched it for the first time. It still draws laughs and enjoyment time and time again.

    Reply

  • sandra murta March 2, 2009 at 4:40 am

    definitely “Geri’s Game”. It is warm, sweet and fun.

    Reply

  • podbaydoor March 2, 2009 at 5:17 am

    “Knick Knack” is my fav. The Snow Man trying to escape his snow globe. Especially when he tries to blow up the place. Plus the music by Bobby McFerrin works very well. Very funny and clever animated short

    Reply

  • Chris Cookson March 2, 2009 at 6:18 am

    either Geri’s Game or One Man Band, often with the Pixar short films the simpler the premise the better.

    Reply

  • Angelica Gonzalez March 2, 2009 at 6:55 am

    knick knack, I love the idea and i love the -first stuff make in 3D- atomosphere.

    Reply

  • Philip March 2, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I’d have to say For the Birds is my favorite of the theatrically-released movies. The egg-like design of the birds make me chuckle by itself (especially a wide-shot of them bouncing down the wire), but I also loved their expressions throughout. Very subtle.

    I’d also like to add that I enjoyed Your Friend, The Rat and Burn-E (although they were ‘only’ DVD extras), the former for its variety of animation styles and jokes, the latter because I love silent comedy.

    Reply

  • George Taylor March 2, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Presto has jumped to my favorite.

    Every time I watch it with my two boys, we can’t stop laughing. It reminds me of watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. Brilliant!

    Before that, Lifted was an easy favorite. Everyone can relate to the first time you are allowed to take the family car out for a spin!

    Reply

  • Jessie March 2, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Favorite short? For the Birds!

    Reply

  • AGriffin March 2, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Boundin’

    That’s a tough choice, though. I love ALL of them. But I love the message and all of the symbolism in Boundin’. You just can’t help but think optimistically after a viewing.

    Reply

  • Tyler March 2, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I love all the shorts and it’s too hard to choose just one. Of course everyone loves Luxo Jr. and the one I remember most when I was a kid is Geri’s Game. I can’t pick just one and I think every Pixar fan will agree.

    Reply

  • Brian Griffin March 2, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    For The Birds. Simple and hilarious.

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  • nuno coelho March 2, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    without any surprise… “for the birds”… simple, funny, and captivating…

    Reply

  • Gabriel Yanagihara March 2, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I will always love Geri’s Game.

    It was the first animated movie I owned. I got it on VHS from…uh oh. I forget. A friend of a friend of a friend or something like that.

    I wouldn’t say that caused me to pursue vfx and animation for the rest of my life, but it may have contributed to it.

    Reply

  • Tom March 3, 2009 at 12:32 am

    One not mentioned on the post: Geri´s game! The old man all messed up is so funny and brilliant. hahaha

    This piece even has fan-made versions in both animation and live-action.

    Reply

  • David Cousens March 3, 2009 at 1:03 am

    I cant remember the name off the top of my head, but the short that featured the two Pixar desk lamps, that was just so cute, and amazing how much character you can get across without adding faces…

    Reply

  • Alex March 3, 2009 at 1:57 am

    Lifted.

    It’s just so damn funny.

    Reply

  • Rui Ramalheiro March 3, 2009 at 2:58 am

    “Jack-Jack Attack”. I absolutely LOVE the Incredibles, and i hope they do a second film.

    But, i must admit that i haven’t seen all the pixar shorts, so that choice may have to be changed when i finally get the chance to watch the rest of the shorts.

    Reply

  • Jennifer Lee March 3, 2009 at 3:23 am

    I’s have to say Geri’s Game!

    Reply

  • Nicolas Burki March 3, 2009 at 3:36 am

    I love For the Birds and Presto, but Stompin’ is really a suberb short film, but all frames of animation from Pixar is a must see…

    Reply

  • Serge March 3, 2009 at 3:39 am

    Well… I think my favorite Pixar short is ‘For the birds’.
    There are few backgrounds, few characters and the idea is great, really funny.
    (The second one for me is Boundin, for its poetry)

    Reply

  • Kevin Richter March 3, 2009 at 4:16 am

    Presto for me is the best of the shorts. Pure entertainment all the way through, with fantastic comedy timing and amazing animation. This short, for me, is probably the best example of a 3d version of the old Warner Brothers animation shorts. I LOVE IT!

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  • Mark March 3, 2009 at 4:50 am

    For the birds is my favorite!

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  • asna March 3, 2009 at 6:23 am

    For the Birds! The bird design is attractive and chukling.

    I also like Jack-Jack, whether he is attack or not.

    Reply

  • Marcelo March 3, 2009 at 6:46 am

    One man band.

    Rly cool…

    Reply

  • Andre Kishimoto March 3, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Hard to choose, but that would be ‘Luxo Jr.’
    It’s a perfect example of the principles of animation and how one can suggest force and emotion with inanimated objects. Wonderful work!

    Reply

  • esya March 3, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Love Pixar!
    Great post

    Reply

  • scott March 3, 2009 at 7:30 am

    “For the Birds” is my favorite! It’s really funny, and reminds me of when the birds are eating in the backyard and a big crow or seagull swoop in to hog all the food.

    Reply

  • paulo Castillo March 3, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Luxo Jr. Firts story, very simple, and with two object without life, they come alive with creativity and heart….and inspiration for future animators.

    Reply

  • Luke Radl March 3, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Geri’s game, and Jack-Jack Attack. Man. I love those. Can’t wait for the book!

    Reply

  • Bill Stewart March 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I really look forward to getting my hands on this book.

    Reply

  • Jennifer March 3, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    My favorite is One Man Band, though they’re all pretty great!

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  • Gregory March 3, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    One man band, because of the story and a perfect rythm !!!

    Reply

  • Lexi March 3, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    For the Birds is my favorite, followed by Presto. Presto reminded me of playing “Portal”, that Half-Life spinoff. My bet is that the animators channeled their favorite Steam game into the short itself.

    Reply

  • Tanja Bungardt-Price March 3, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    tough to chose. But I love Geri’s Game. It is actually pretty deep. It makes you smile and be sad at the same time and the animation is amazing. The facial expressions are just unbelievable. You really fall in love with this old guy.

    Reply

  • millie March 3, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Birds On a Wire/For the Birds is my fave. The Pixar short are really great!

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  • Mateus March 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Lifted.. The expression in face of the Aliens it’s so magical

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  • Lemon March 3, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Great prize..I love Pixar..I cant wait to watch UP

    Reply

  • michael March 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    boundin or for the birds,they`ve got a wackiness missing from a lot of digital animation.

    Reply

  • Ahim March 3, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Presto for it’s bunny cuteness!

    Reply

  • Vicky March 4, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Geri’s Game – it was my first and still my fav!

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  • Super-Munkyboy March 4, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Its a toss up between For the Birds, Geris Game, Jack Jack Attack, and Lifted.

    For the Birds just because I always laugh out loud at it. Mainly at how evil little sods the little birds are and how dumb the other one is.

    Reply

  • sébastien March 4, 2009 at 5:04 am

    “For the birds” et “Gerry’s game” sont les deux courts métrages que je préfére…
    Merci encore à “Chronicle books” de nous faire découvrir à travers ses différents ouvrages le travail fantastique des créatifs aux doigts de fées des studios Pixar.
    Continuez à nous faire rêver…
    ++

    Reply

  • alberto March 4, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    For the Birds ! super

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  • Gabe Fullilove March 10, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    My favorite is definitely For The Birds! Great timing in the short.

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  • Rachel March 18, 2009 at 11:54 am

    It’s hard to choose just one because, let’s face it, they’re all pretty amazing . . . but I think I’m going to have to say Presto! The animation is gorgeous and I’m a sucker for (well-done) slapstick. Go Alec!

    Reply

  • Kyle Jones March 20, 2009 at 10:16 am

    My favorite would have to be Presto- I laughed so hard in the theater, the timing and expressions are unbelievably good. I’ve been a diehard Pixar fan ever since I saw Toy Story- their work never ceases to amaze

    Reply

  • Robert Kelley March 25, 2009 at 1:26 am

    I would have to say ‘For the Birds.’ Classic naive, underdog story with a humorous twist. Those tiny birds are so maliciously funny and the voice for the larger bird fits perfectly!

    Reply

  • Tim Kallok March 26, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    It’s way too hard to choose just one! For best story, I would have to say “Boundin”. Bud Lucky is such an amazing storyteller and songwriter. If any one remembers “Ladybug Picnic” from Sesame Street, you know what I’m talking about…

    Reply

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