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Staff
May 31 2018
Large toons

Award-Winning Animated Short Films That Go Great With This Summer’s Big Animated Releases

Though the Summer of 2018 doesn’t officially begin until June 21st, the Memorial Day cookouts, high national temps, and, of course, the steady releases of blockbuster movies, are all signs that summer

It’s great to hit the beach, start a barbeque or do any number of outdoor events with friends and family, but when you’re trying to beat the heat, little else works as well as a day in the air-conditioned movie theater.

Honestly though, if you have kids, the only incentive you’ll need are the list of animated titles slated for the coming months:

Incredibles 2. Hotel Transylvania 3. Small Foot. Say any of these titles in front of your children and they’ll surely be begging you to go.

Plus, you’ve gotta admit it…you enjoy them quite a bit, too.

Before loading up the minivan for the next matinee, how about watching some of the below bite-sized animated films with the family? As you surely know from the animated shorts played before all Pixar films, there is as much creativity, passion and artistry put into these as in the multi-million-dollar features. Plus, we’ve suggested the films that we think are good pairings with upcoming releases.

 

The Incredible 2/Bao & Aeolian

The animated movie equally-anticipated by kids and adults has to be Incredibles 2. It’s the rare Pixar sequel the world has been asking for but didn’t get until over a decade later! But we wouldn’t be Miniflix without also expressing our excitement over the short film preceding it. Bao is the heartfelt story of a Chinese-Canadian woman who is left to look after one of her dumplings that magically come to life. As with all good Pixar shorts, there are sure to be poignant ruminations on the cycle of life and death mixed into this otherwise lighthearted premise.

Still from Bao, Pixar’s upcoming animated short film

 

Aeolian also confronts the circle of life and death head-on. Placed in several short film festivals, including the 30th Annual Environmental Film Festival, this quite unconventional animated short film follows the brief journey of an unspecified (yet undoubtedly adorable) organism.

 

The viewer follows this being as it discovers animal and plant life, the cosmos, and such concepts as death, infinity and natural beauty. The only animated part about this short film is its main character. In a stunning and surprising move, directors Cameron Lowe and Tom Shrapnel put this animated creature into live-action filmed environments, creating an effect both realistic and otherworldly.

There were clearly many cinematic influences on the mind of these filmmakers, with such well-composed, meditative shots of nature as would be worthy of a Terrence Malick-Emmanuel Lubezki collaboration.

 

One can also find a direct invocation of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona and its famous opening scene in this short’s avant-garde opening.

Still From Ingmar Bergman’s Persona

Another still from Ingmar Bergman’s Persona

 

Obvious too is a connection in melancholic tone (and style) between Aeolian and the Spike Jonze adaptation Where The Wild Things Are.

Still from Where The Wild Things Are

 

Perhaps most important of all though, at least for the kids watching this, is the camera’s eye of wonder, capturing several different plants and animals with the serenity and interest of a National Geographic documentary.

 

Aeolian is not your typical animated short, but it will be as educational as it is entertaining.

 

Hotel Transylvania: A Monster Vacation & The Boy in the Bubble

Now that we are about to be three films into this enormously successful animated franchise, we should know what we are in for. Despite the Hotel Transylvania hook being in its connection to horror Gothic literature, most of the potency has been traded in for hilarity and farce once Adam Sandler’s performance combines with the kid-proof premises. The Boy in the Bubble can best complement the Hotel Transylvania series in that the Gothic horror elements are not only inspired but thoroughly committed to.

It’s the classic story of a boy who finds love (and heartbreak), only to find the value of true love because of it. Its literal use of the beating heart brings to mind the viral hit In A Heartbeat that we featured earlier this year.

 

Besides that, though, the visual palette’s dark-grey wash and gothic sensiblities bring to mind something more expected to come out of the mind of Tim Burton. As if the influence wasn’t apparent enough, a visual homage to Nightmare Before Christmas appears mid-way through.

Still from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas

 

True literary horror fans will find easter egg references to Bram Stoker and H.P. Lovecraft.

 

Neither is it coincidental that writers Kealan O’Rourke, Niall Murphy and Ray Kane chose literary references, since the entire story is told in soothing poetry by none other than the late Alan Rickman. If Professor Snape and the world of Harry Potter instantly comes to the mind of your children while watching, it surely was not by accident. Magical properties, including spells and books, keep the film’s storyline zipping along. Everyone will love this moody but heartwarming winner of the Best Animation prize at the 2012 Irish Film and Television Awards.

 

Small Foot & The Tosser (Three Fools)

The Tosser (Three Fools) should easily help your family get in the mood for the Channing Tatum-starring Small FootThe Tosser will give your kids the same dose of the prehistoric and legendary as they follow three wholly original creatures who discover a tropical paradise on the other side of a lonely desert.

 

Two of the three creatures duke it out for the biggest, most elaborate piece of man-made real estate possible. This quickly results in them bulldozing trees, killing fish and otherwise corrupting the environment out of greediness. The moral at the center comes with the third creature, who chooses a remote location that emphasizes harmony with the natural world rather than dominion. The pro-environmental message is very necessary for the newest generations, so kudos to the animated short’s all-age accessibility that goes perfectly with its themes.

Adult viewers will find resonance in The Tosser’s opening visual palatte and comedic sensibilities, which for us at Miniflix immediately brought to mind the 1980s classic comedy Three Amigos! In fact, many of the short film’s slapstick elements can take one’s pop culture-fandom all the way back to The Three Stooges.

Still from 1986’s Three Amigos

The Three Stooges

 

This Jury Prize winner at the 2016 Berlin Short Film Festival also uses visual motifs from the pop culture landmark The Lord of the Rings series, borrowing in particular many of the film and book series’ pro-environmental and anti-industrial themes.

Still from The Lord of The Rings

Still from The Lord of The Rings

 

One need not analyze the film too closely to enjoy its humor and its message.

 

The Happytime Murders & All Consuming Love (Man In A Cat)

Leave the kids at home (or out of the living room) for this last one. Though the upcoming The Happytime Murders is not animated or kid-friendly, its uncanny (and controversial) resemblances to the iconic Jim Henson Muppets series earned it a slot on this list. If you haven’t seen the trailer (NSFW!) that has had people talking for days now, check it out.

 

All Consuming Love (Man In a Cat) too pushes the boundaries of adult-oriented animation, though in much more subtle ways than we are perhaps used to. An embarrassment of riches have come our way in adult animation, whether through Family GuySouth ParkSausage Party and many other raunch-fest/adult-humor shows.

Still from Family Guy

Still from South Park

 

Yet this 2011 British short film (nominated at the Edinburg International Film Festival), tackles lust, body horror and the absurd while walking us through an otherwise traditional story of unconventional love.

 

Yes, there is literally a man in a cat (and the way the man leaves this cat is better left a surprise), and the greatest elements of this short film come out of the inventive ways director Louis Hudson plays with perspective and world building.

 

Some may find this British comedy a little too stuffy, but for us, this off-kilter short hits our funny bone just right.

Watch All Consuming Love (Man In a Cat) Now!


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