At the beginning of the year, I watched a Pixar Sparkshorts for the first time. These are short films that are created by different Pixar employees in six months with a limited budget. That one in particular, called ‘Burrow’, was one that I really enjoyed. And now that the Marvel shows are lacking, I decided to cover another short. I had heard of ‘Kitbull’ before and remember it being described as cute. So, I went in expecting an adorable story about a stray cat and, while I did get that occasionally, I also got a heart-wrenching story.
Written and directed by Rosana Sullivan (Story Artist – Incredibles 2 / Soul), ‘Kitbull’ follows a stray black kitten and a Pitbull who form an unlikely friendship, resulting in them escaping the dangerous situations they’re in.
The one aspect I love about the Sparkshorts is it encourages different art styles that would not normally be seen in Pixar’s feature length films. It’s a welcomed aspect because viewers get to see more of the staff’s creativity and talent, and ‘Kitbull’ is no exception. The almost stop-motion style animation is fantastic and works beautifully for this story.
Despite its bleak subject matter, it’s colourful and the two focal animals look adorable, making them immediately likable; something that is needed for this short. Their movements are also animated differently to match their maturity levels: the kitten’s movements are exaggerated and cartoonish to reflect its bouncy, young age while the Pitbull’s movements are slow and more grounded. The latter is also because the dog is being trained by its owner to take part in dog fights and, unfortunately, loses one, leading to it being injured. Because of the subject matter, the short could’ve easily have gone down the route of ‘humans are the real monsters’, but it lets the imagery speak for itself and, instead, focuses on the animals.
The other aspect I like about ‘Kitbull’ is that it’s focused on two animals who hold a bad reputation: a black cat and a Pitbull. Pitbulls are banned in the UK for the very reason this short highlights, while black cats are, unfortunately, seen as bad luck. Both animals are subject to man-made reasoning and don’t deserve it. But, if we look past an animal’s appearance, we see an innocent creature which the ending displays when the two animals are taken in by a woman whom the kitten had met at the beginning of the short. When she first sees the dog, she steps back in shock only to then gently pet the injured animal; she’s shocked by the dog’s injuries and the dog itself.
Despite the unexpected sobs the short gave me, ‘Kitbull’ is adorable on the surface, but goes on to tell the story of a wonderful friendship that is formed under awful circumstances. It also holds a message: don’t judge by appearances. This is something that people do, even if we don’t realise it, but it’s an important lesson to learn. Like the ‘Burrow’ review back in January, I would highly recommend watching this Sparkshort; just remember to have the tissues at the ready!
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