Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection

by Al Kessel 

What's better than a Disney Animated flick? TWELVE DISNEY ANIMATED FLICKS!!! Ok, well, TECHNICALLY, twelve Disney Animated Short Films, to be exact.  Today, August 18, 2015,Walt Disney Animation Studios released a collection of twelve animated shorts, in an extraordinary new collection of award winning and beloved short films. These shorts range from a continuation of the hit films Frozen and Tangled, to some original shorts, destined to be classics. 

Ok, here's the scoop: These animated shorts aren't new, with the exception of Frozen Fever, which was shown in front of the 2015 live action version of Cinderella. But that doesn't mean they're not worth watching. The great thing about this collection is that Disney has compiled several fan favorite animated shorts into one pretty great presentation. However...out of the twelve, there were a few that, although cute, well drawn and interesting, were not shorts that we would watch over and over. Ok, on with the review...

Now, if you've ever read any of our reviews, you know that we don't like to add anything that would spoil the movie for you. So, with that in mind, here we go:

Here are the twelve animated shorts, in order as they appear on the Blu-Ray, with a short (yeah, pun) synopsis and my (our) thoughts on it.

 * John Henry

    Originally released on October 30, 2000, John Henry is a musical short that celebrates the life and legend of a great African-American folk hero. As viewed through the eyes of his widow, Polly, the film explores Henry's tall tale adventures as he challenges a powerful steam drill in a climactic confrontation of man versus machine. We really did enjoy this short, even the musical numbers didn't bother me too much! The only odd thing was that in a lot of the scenes, the animation style was kind of strange, they left in some of the guide lines in the characters, like it was almost an unfinished piece. 

* Lorenzo 

   Well, THIS one was strange. Originally released on May 28, 2004, this very colorful short centers around a pompous, pampered cat named Lorenzo who teases the neighborhood felines, until he faces cat-astrophic consequences when he's hexed by a rival cat. Ok, when I say strange, I mean, kind of like someone on a drug trip strange. Really don't know how else to say it! You'll have to see this one for yourself. 

* The Little Matchgirl 

  Originally released on September 7, 2006, The Little Matchgirl is a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen classic tale about a poor homeless young girl whose burning desire to find comfort and happiness. Very richly animated, and honestly beautifully scored with some great classical music, this one is a tad depressing. If you know the story, then you know what I mean. Although we enjoyed it for it's style, it was kind of a bummer. 

*How To Hook Up Your Home Theater 

   Originally released December 21, 2007 in front of National Treasure: Book of Secrets, this is probably one of our favorite shorts in the collection. Disney's beloved animated "everyman," Goofy, returned to the big screen for the first time in 42 years to entertain and educate viewers about the challenges of modern technology and following directions when it comes to hooking up a home entertainment system.  The enthusiastic but clueless Goofy is confronted by a huge instruction "manual," and has to deal with a gargantuan universal remote as he tries to install a new home theater in time to enjoy the big game. Voiced by the very talented Bill Farmer, Goofy once again proves his name! This is without a doubt an instant classic, as far as I'm concerned! I've always loved these Disney shorts. 

* Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa 

   Yeah, we LOVE the Prep & Landing movies!! Originally released December 7, 2010, "Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa” follows the further comic adventures of Santa’s stealthiest elves, Lanny and Wayne (who debuted the previous year in the Emmy® Award-winning ABC-TV special).  With Christmas only a few short days away, Mrs. Claus (voiced by Betty White) and Magee (Sarah Chalke) enlist Wayne (Dave Foley) and Lanny (Derek Richardson) on a secret mission to retrieve a mysterious item hidden deep within the office of Santa Claus!  Can the intrepid duo acquire the target in time, or will they be discovered by the Big Guy (Morgan Sheppard) and doomed to placement on the Naughty List? How can you NOT love this?! This will be a welcome addition to our Holiday traditions. 

* Tick Tock Tale 

   Originally released on June 8, 2010, Tick Tock Tale is a Walt Disney Animation Studio's computer animated short film that transports audiences to the foggy streets of Victorian era London, when, after the shop closes, the clocks all come to life, and one discarded old clock has to save the day from a burglar!! We liked this one a lot as well. Great animation and a great story. 

* The Ballad Of Nessie 

    Originally released on July 15, 2011 in front of Winnie The Pooh. Have you ever wondered where the Loch Ness Monster came from? Well, wonder no more! Set in the 'bonny blue highlands' of Scotland, this is a cute, whimsical and very colorful (literally) tall tale about how the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie to her friends, came to be in the Loch Ness! Narrated by the wonderfully talented Billy Connolly, The Ballad Of Nessie is another short for the entire family! 

*Tangled Ever After 

   Originally released on January 13, 2012 in front of Beauty And The Beast 3D, Tangled Ever After picks up where Tangled left off, and we see Rapunzel and Flynn tying the knot...but, when Pascal and Maximus are in charge of delivering the wedding rings, well, suffice it to say, a very funny and raucous time ensues! We LOVED this animated short and are sure most will as well.  

* Paperman 

   Originally released on November 2, 2012 in front of Wreck-It-Ralph, Paperman is one that we've seen before. This one introduces a groundbreaking technique that seamlessly merges computer generated and hand drawn animation techniques. Presented in a minimalist black and white style, this short follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful young woman. The animation in Paperman is truly spectacular, and, although it IS animation, it's kind of easy to get caught up in it! 

*Get A Horse! 

  Originally released on November 27, 2013 in front of Frozen, this is another one we've seen previously, BUT, will gladly watch over and over. Get A Horse !” follows Mickey, his favorite gal pal Minnie Mouse and their friends Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow as they delight in a musical hay wagon ride—until Peg-Leg Pete shows up and tries to run them off the road. With both classic black-and-white, hand-drawn animation and up-to-the-minute technical wizardry (often in the same frame), this groundbreaking short takes a sharp turn when Mickey finds himself separated from Minnie and must use every trick up his sleeve to find his way back to her. THIS is a MUST SEE! It starts off as all classic Walt Disney Mickey Mouse cartoons did, and in fact, truly looks like one. A very groundbreaking and unique short, and the coolest thing about this one? Walt Disney was the voice for Mickey Mouse!!

* Feast 

   Originally released on November 7, 2014 in front of Big Hero 6, Feast is the story of one man's love life as seen through the eyes of his best friend and dog, Winston, and revealed bite by bite through the meals they share. Ok, cute doesn't even begin to describe Feast. The animators got the actions, expressions and well, everything PERFECT on Winston that it looks and sounds so lifelike. In fact, our dog Kate got so excited when we watched Feast, she actually thought Winston was a real dog! Seriously! She jumped off the couch, ran up to the TV and started barking and wagging her tail!! An instant classic. 

* Frozen Fever 

   Originally released on March 13, 2015 in front of the live action Disney movie Cinderella, it's Anna's birthday and Elsa and Kristoff are determined to give her the best celebration ever, but when Elsa catches a cold, her powers may put more than just the party at risk. This original continuation of Frozen is 100% pure cute and fun. All the original voice actors return for this short, and honestly, it may even be better than Frozen. Yes, there is a musical number through it, and yes, Elsa does sing, but not Let It Go!! And they even poke a little fun at Frozen! 

Like I said, all of these shorts have been around awhile, and odds are you've seen at least a few of them. But the cool thing is that now they're all in one easy to view collection. Without a doubt, Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection is a must have addition for any Disney fan, or, for anyone who loves a great short animated film! Two Thumbs Up from us!!!!

Each short runs at about 5-9 minutes, so it's simple to watch all at one sitting, or watch a few and continue later. 

Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection is available everywhere now, on Blu-Ray and Digital HD/Disney Movies Anywhere.

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