The 20 best shorts on Disney+ UK
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You don't always have the hours to spare to watch movies or TV box sets — sometimes you only have five minutes to kill. Or five minutes may just buy you enough time with the kids while you finish off their dinner.
Disney+ features hundreds of animated shorts spanning over 90 years, from classic Mickey Mouse cartoons to the latest Oscar winners from Pixar.
Here is our pick of the 20 best short films available to watch now on Disney+.
Toy Story: Small Fry
Pixar's Toy Story shorts lack none of the studio's big-screen magic. In fact, the Toy Story Toons are arguably more impressive, given how funny, gorgeous and polished they all are, and all wrapped up in under 10 minutes.
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Small Fry is the funniest of three Toy Story shorts available and sees Buzz Lightyear temporarily replaced by a short toy doppelgänger from a burger joint. Check out the scene in the attic, which cycles through a dozen discarded Happy Meal-esque toys in around 30 seconds, to see just how economical Pixar's design and storytelling skill is.
Mike and Sulley made their Pixar short debut in Mike's New Car in 2000, but their younger selves made another appearance in this 2013 Monsters University short that was attached to the theatrical release of Muppets Most Wanted.
The Oozma Kappa students attempt to throw the rager to end all ragers by using a door portal to cleverly steal another frat house's party — and party-goers — with hilarious results. It's a great example of how Pixar are able to mix physical comedy with ingenious storytelling in such a short space of time.
If you, like us, love Edna Mode of The Incredibles fame, then you'll be delighted to learn that this little-seen short, attached to the Incredibles 2 DVD, is an Edna showcase and is available on Disney+.
It's essentially an extended deleted scene, showing us what happens when Edna babysits Jack-Jack while his parents are out saving the world. It gives a tantalising glimpse into the full — and frankly terrifying — range of Baby Parr's superpowers. Poor old Kari the babysitter was not being paid enough.
The Blue Umbrella
Pixar is capable of making even the most mundane objects spring to life in this beautiful animated short that illustrates how love can be found in the strangest of places. This is Pixar's most photo-real short, with painstakingly detailed visuals - and no dialogue - expertly telling the story of two umbrellas who find each other in a rain-lashed metropolitan city. Moving, imaginative and sincere, it's a nice change of pace from the usual Pixar antics.
Day & Night
The plot for most of Pixar's shorts could fit on a post-it note, but although it might sound simple, Day & Night is deceptively complex and all the more spectacular for it. Two transparent silhouettes, one a window into the world during the day, the other at night, seemingly couldn't be more different to each other, until they find they each want what the other has.
Day & Night is clever, funny and wonderfully animated, but it's also mind-bogglingly creative in the extreme — try to consider how this story was pitched if you want to develop a headache.
Exclusive to Disney+, the Sparkshorts program gives up and coming Pixar animators a chance to join the studio's topline talent in developing short animated features. Float is the pick of the shorts available at launch, in which a young baby has the unnerving ability to, well, float, much to his father's chagrin.
It has the same emotional core running through it as the studio's theatrical shorts, and it contains an inspiring message of acceptance and tolerance that the likes of Docter, Bird and Stanton would be proud of.
A real curio, Destino is not like the other shorts available on Disney+. For one thing, it was started in 1945. A long-dormant collaboration between Walt Disney and surrealist painter Salvador Dali, Destino was scrapped after World War II forced Disney to put the brakes on all productions.
However, Walt's nephew, Roy E Disney, discovered 17-seconds of test footage in 1999 and the short was eventually completed in 2003. A rich, vibrant and yes, surreal short about the love between a god and a mortal woman, Destino is utterly unique and essential for Disney completists.
A true throwback to good old-fashioned Tom and Jerry-style cartoon violence, Presto is arguably Pixar's funniest short to date, and was nominated for an Oscar.
Vaudeville magician Presto DiGiotagione gets into a very public on-stage spat with his rabbit Alec Azam after the bunny refuses to appear out of his hat until he's fed his carrot. More fun with portals, it's a riotously amusing five minutes in which the magician is electrocuted, crushed and has his trousers fall down, all at the mercy of a very cute-looking rabbit.
"It all started with a mouse." The wise words of Walt Disney there, placing his entire empire at the feet of one Mickey Mouse — the anthropomorphic rodent who became an animation icon.
Steamboat Willie is technically not Mickey's first cartoon as many assume — 1928 short Plane Crazy was the first to be released in a test screening — but it was the first to be released with sound. That catchy whistle would go on to become part of the studio's ident. It's quite sobering to think Disney have been in this game for almost 100 years.
The best Pixar shorts are relatable, recognisable and a little bit weird. This 2018 offering ticks all those boxes and more. It's the story of an Asian mother who is unwilling to let her son grow up and leave home, who ends up befriending and mothering a tiny dumpling instead.
Bao is pleasingly authentic, created by Chinese-Canadian writer-director Domee Shi, and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. We weren't kidding about it being weird: how many short films can actually make you gasp like this?
How to Play Football
Often overshadowed by Mickey and Minnie and less marketable than Donald Duck, Goofy remains an integral member of Disney's 'spectacular six' and his classic cartoons from the 1940s are much wittier than the rest of the studio's output of the time.
Part of the How To series in which Goofy often starred, the loveable goof is used as a prop here to show us the ins and outs of American football in his own inimitable style. Goofy's classic physical comedy alongside the serious voice-over is a great comedic blend that remains side-splitting to this day.
Pixar doesn't like to make things easy for themselves. Sure, they could just slap a pair of eyes and a mouth on any old household object and give it a personality, but where's the challenge in that? In Lou, they create a character from not just one item, but a whole box-full.
The titular Lou is a sentient pile of lost and found objects, composed of toys, clothes and more. He sounds quite frightening, but typically, it's an emotional tale of attachment and imagination that won't fail to make you tear up come its close.
Forky Asks a Question: What is Time?
The breakout star of Toy Story 4 gets his own animated series of shorts on Disney+ in which he asks the Toy Story gang some challenging questions, such as What is Love?, What is Money? and What is Cheese?.
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Perhaps the best of the ten shorts available sees the spork question jittery toy dino Rex about the concept of time itself. Forky continues to be a bizarre mix of anxiety and eagerness, so the pair make a great comedic double-act, and the visual gag in which Forky slowly scooches himself up to Rex is funnier than anything he did in his feature debut.
Pixar doesn't completely run the game on animated shorts on Disney+. This Disney-branded short film is easily the equal of anything that's come out of the Emeryville-based studio over the last ten years.
A fable warning of the perils of an improper work-life balance, Inner Workings takes the anthropomorphic body part concept of Inside Out and the boxy animation style of Up to create a thoughtful and fun five-minute story that'll make you want to break out of your cubicle and start living your best life. Catchy tune, too!
Lambert the Sheepish Lion
Significantly less well-known in the cartoon lion stages than Simba and friends, Lambert is still a classic Disney big cat. Animated by Disney legend Jack Hannah in 1952, Lambert the Sheepish Lion does what it says on the tin and tells the story of a lion cub who was taken in by a flock of sheep — a concept that was later recycled to great effect in 1967's The Jungle Book.
Carrying an important message of being true to yourself, it's a wonderful eight minutes of classic era pen and ink.
Pixar shorts often come without dialogue, not only because they are experts at communicative storytelling, but also because it's less expensive to dub. Piper, though, is a great example of how story can be told through sound, visuals and emotions alone, as a non-verbal sandpiper bird learns the hard way how to overcome her fear of the sea.
It has cuteness to spare, but it also doubles as a swoon-worthy tech demo, with incredible water, wave and foam visual effects.
Olaf's Frozen Adventure
At 22 minutes long it's a slightly longer short than the others on this list, due to its original broadcast on TV in the US, but no youngsters in your house are going to be complaining about having too much Frozen to watch.
Rightfully singling out Olaf as the star of the show, this Christmas special sees the snowman investigate the numerous holiday traditions of the citizens of Arendelle. As always, it's an absolute joy to see Josh Gad let off the leash, and it'll fill the snowman-shaped hole on Disney+ until Frozen II is eventually dropped.
With Disney launching a new Olaf series voiced by Josh Gad from home, there’s plenty more of him to come.
Another non-verbal Pixar classic, La Luna is a moving animated short that dispels a few myths about the moon and the stars and shines a light on the hard-working maintenance staff who have to wax and wane on a nightly basis.
There's a touch of the Studio Ghibli about the animation style and more than a dash of Italian stereotyping, but the sentiment is pure Disney: making the mundane magical.
Mickey Mouse Thru the Mirror
Perhaps one of the most iconic Mickey Mouse shorts after Steamboat Willie, 1936's Thru the Mirror sees Mickey fall asleep after reading Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and tumble into a nightmarish dreamland that bears more than a passing resemblance to Alice's wonderland.
For all the technical wizardry of Disney and Pixar's latest shorts, sometimes you can't beat the classics, and they don't come much more classic than this.
This forerunner to Toy Story was not Pixar's first animated short — that honour goes to The Adventures of André & Wally B, also available on Disney+ — but it did win them their first Oscar in 1989. That’s a full six years before Woody and Buzz would grace our screens.
It's a relatively simple story of a tin toy who finds himself at the mercy of an aggressive baby, but it was a testing ground for Pixar's at-the-time cutting-edge CG effects. Tinny even made a cameo in Toy Story 4 in 2019, proving that some toys endure the test of time better than others.