Pixar Spark Shorts [Updated]

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Pixar is usually the 3D counterpart to Disney’s 2D animation studios. But Pixar has been releasing new short featurettes recently (Update: which also live on Disney Plus) to give their talented creators another outlet of expression, and one of them is hand-drawn. These three animated shorts are not the typical whimsy you’re probably used to by now. Singing volcanoes and snowmen don’t exactly speak to the darker aspects of life.

The new ones sort of tread that line, though. Their titles are Purl, Kitbull, and Smash and Grab. Each one explores a gloomier side of storytelling that Pixar and Disney often steer away from. This isn’t to say that their films are never sad. Quite the opposite.

I cry my eyes out every time I watch Up or Inside Out. Wall-E forces us to reckon with our environment and the future of our planet and species. Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph show us what sacrificial love looks like.

Importantly, though, these movies explore the tragic in a way that is accessible to younger and older viewers alike. The new Pixar shorts aren’t exactly intended for children like the Toy Story or Nemo/Dory franchises are.


The first one is called Purl. The main character is a pink ball of yarn named Purl. Purl goes to work one day at a big office where everybody else is a tall man in a suit. Purl is a small, pink ball of yarn without a suit.

The firm is more of a fraternity than an office. The men all kid around, have inside jokes, and some even tell more ribald fare than we’ve ever heard in a Pixar film before. Basically, all the men are crude, short, and cliquey. Purl can’t seem to find a way into their graces, much less the inner circle.

I won’t spoil the film, but suffice it to say we aren’t in Arendelle anymore. Take a watch here.

Purl – Pixar SparkShorts


The next Pixar SparkShorts short film is called Kitbull. It gives us a glimpse at the lives of two lovable animals: a street cat and a dog with less-than-desirable owners.

This short is the one that’s hand-drawn, making it stand out immediately from anything else that Pixar has ever released. The animation style is reminiscent of some anime (though I’m certainly no expert on that medium).

Again, I won’t ruin the story, but there is at least one moment that will make you question whether what you’re watching was indeed made by an arm of Disney/Pixar. After, check out the Behind-the-Scenes video for more about how it was made.

Kitbull – Pixar SparkShorts
Behind the Scenes of Kitbull – Pixar SparkShorts

Smash and Grab

The final entry (so far!) in Pixar’s SparkShorts series is more like what we’re used to from Disney/Pixar in some ways. It reminded me of Wall-E a little bit. Even so, it, too, enters new territory.

The characters here are robots tethered to a mission, boring and monotonous in the extreme. Their freedom is limited to a single room, though not even the whole space is truly theirs.

Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments. Did it make you think of Wall-E or any other Disney/Pixar films or shorts? Okay, enough from me. Watch Smash and Grab and enjoy!

Now that you’ve seen all three, which one did you like best? Personally, I’m a huge fan of Kitbull. All three are fantastic, but as a lover of both dogs and cats, I found that one hard to resist and the only one that I’ve watched over and over. The characters are simply irresistible.

Let us know your favorite in the comments section below. If you enjoyed this post, share it with your friends and family that also love Pixar.

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Neal Tucker is one of the world’s most engaging Disney influencers, with thousands of views and responses across his blog, podcast, and social media profiles every month.

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