Was privileged to see two new CG shorts last week: Disney Animation’s Glago’s Guest and Pixar’s Presto. Both films couldn’t be more different, yet both succeed in accomplishing their modest goals with style to spare.

Glago’s Guest is the second film from Disney’s new shorts unit, established by John Lasseter when hne took over the studio. The sole intent of producing new shorts at Disney is to experiment with style, test new techniques, and to develop new directors. Chris Williams was a story artist at Disney (Mulan, etc.) for fourteen years. His original tale of a Russian soldier stationed in a remote Siberian outpost is so far removed from what a Disney cartoon has been, it’s just what the staff needed to flex their muscles. To tell you what happens, or who his guests are, would ruin the experience – but the short is layered in luscious detail, and filled with more heart than most features ten times its length. It’s being released in 3-D on November 26th with Disney’s Bolt and it looks incredible in that format.

Pixar’s Presto is as perfect as any homage to classic Hollywood cartoons could be – especially with it’s opening title tribute to Disney shorts (against burlap) and MGM cartoons (note the type style). The story is a mash up of UPA’s Magic Fluke (1949), Avery’s Magical Maestro (1952), and Jones’ Case of the Missing Hare (1942) – magician versus his adversarial rabbit, who gets revenge via a magical hat. It’s the fast pace, strong poses, appealing characters and visual gags that turn this into a charming original entertainment – top notch fun from first frame to last. An absolute winner from Pixar. Catch it on the head of Wall-E this weekend at a theatre near you.

These shorts are special – that’s something we can’t usually say about short form films. I’m delighted Disney is producing films like these. Could a modern day equivalent of Melody Time grow out of such a program? After seeing these two, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

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