After watching ‘Monsters Inc.’ last week and finally watching Pixar’s latest film ‘Luca’ a few days ago, I have decided to dive back into the world of the Pixar shorts. They’re just as great and enjoyable as the feature films and manage to provoke a genuine reaction from me, whether that’s feeling emotional or happy due to the silly nature of the short. This week’s short belongs to the latter category.
‘Knick Knack’ was a short that was theatrically released in 2003, accompanying ‘Finding Nemo’. In this 4-minute film, a snowman on a shelf decides he wants to join the other summer ornaments and attempts to break out of his snow globe with hilarious results.
Like a lot of the Pixar shorts, this one doesn’t feature dialogue but, instead, pushes the humour and visuals to the foreground and lets them tell the story. And this short is fantastic and hilarious. The slapstick humour is perfectly illustrated and occurs whenever it can, but it doesn’t feel forced. The humour also comes from the snowman’s various attempts at escape, which become more and more ridiculous as the film progresses. As a fan of ‘Tom & Jerry’ specifically, this is actually one of my favourite Pixar shorts. It chooses a scenario as its narrative and runs with it, and it’s wonderful.
The animation is ok but, for the time that it was released theatrically, it’s not as impressive as the feature that it was placed in front of. But there is a reason for that. While I’ve put the release date as 2003, which was its theatrical debut, ‘Knick Knack’ was actually created in 1989.
The short was inspired by ‘Tom & Jerry’ and old ‘Looney Tunes’ cartoons, using slapstick comedy to tell the story. After Pixar created the 1988 short ‘Tin Toy’ and became frustrated with animating the baby in it, John Lasseter decided that he would step away from animating human characters and, instead, focus on creating characters that used geometric shapes as their base. Not only was this easier to animate, due to lack of detailing, but it was also easier to animate on the Pixar Image Computers, the computer that the company were trying to sell at the time. It even won an award for Best Short Film at the Seattle International Film Festival a year later. However, after creating the short, Pixar would then choose to focus on animating commercials, leaving ‘Knick Knack’ on the shelf for them to restore 12 years later.
‘Knick Knack’ is not only one of the earliest animated shorts that Pixar have created, but it’s also one of the funniest. While the animation is a little dated, due to it being created at a time when the company were still finding their feet, it’s hard to deny that it is hilarious. Slapstick humour speaks all languages and this, retrospectively, is an example of how good Pixar are even in 1989.
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