Luxo Jr. ★★★★

Having watched this short immediately after The Adventures of André and Wally B., the leaps and bounds Pixar had taken in just two years are immediately apparent. First off, the animation is so much cleaner. Granted that the latter film had to deal with more complicated textures and backgrounds while this is one static shot, everything is still much smoother and more realistic in nature than what had come before.

Here, the storytelling and characterization aspects are that much more pronounced. I never thought I would be charmed and won over by desk lamps, yet here I am. Without speaking a word, the personalities of both the carefree, curious child and the observant, matured parent figure are crafted successfully, giving the simple story a genuine degree of weight.

Yet most of the time (re)watching this short, I was just astounded by how well light and shadows were constructed through its entirety - certainly a vital task for a film that uses desk lamps as characters. Its especially notable in the moment at the beginning when Luxo Sr. is examining the ball before Luxo Jr. enters the screen, the shadows around the ball shifting naturally. Moreover, Jr.'s bouncing movements and even the moment when it pushes the ball and it bounces back off its own cord demonstrates an astute understanding of how to transcribe gravitational realism into CG animation. Truly impressive stuff.

The fact that the quality of animation here is pretty close to that of Toy Story, eight years later, is something to marvel at. And those sound effects will forever in my brain be tied to the Pixar brand.

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