Doug Sweetland | 5 mins | cinema | U / G
The last Pixar film I bothered to head to the cinema for was 1999’s Toy Story 2, back in the days before “it’s made by Pixar” was reason enough to see a film (remember those times? They seem so long ago…) Their only other releases had been the first Toy Story (my enjoyment of which being the motivation to see the sequel) and the unappealing A Bug’s Life. Since then I haven’t had enough desire to expend the effort — or the money — to catch any of their films on the big screen. I explain this because, I’m reliably informed, all Pixar films are preceded by a short while in cinemas… but, because I’ve only seen most of them on DVD, I forgot this, so was initially surprised to see a caged rabbit when I was expecting an adorable little robot.
This rabbit, it turns out, is called Alec, and he’s a bit of a bastard. I think we’re supposed to root for him, and I’m sure kids (and many adults too) will, but while his owner (the titular magician) isn’t especially nice to our starring bunny (the plot is concerned with Alec trying to get a carrot that Presto won’t give him, yet), Presto doesn’t treat Alec quite as badly as Alec treats Presto. On the other hand, the overload of OTT physical violence is all in the name of humour, so that’s OK. It’s not as satirically extreme as The Simpsons‘ Itchy & Scratchy though, which will ironically lead some to declare it promotes violence as comical. But then such ludicrousness is political correctness for you — in fact, Presto‘s brand of violence is very funny indeed. Completely dialogue free, it quickly becomes a breakneck feast of visual, mostly slapstick, humour. It may be violent, but it’s also highly witty, marvelously inventive, and wholly entertaining… even if the hero is morally dubious. But then, Roadrunner was a total wanker and he always won.
You can’t judge shorts on the same level as features, because they’re a different form — that’s why I don’t include them in the main numbering on this blog, and why I once felt the need to go on about that. So while awarding Presto a full five stars doesn’t mean it’s likely to be vying with The Dark Knight or… well, The Dark Knight… for my Film of the Year, it is thoroughly deserved. It’s a perfectly entertaining piece of short comedy, and it’s great that Pixar continues to facilitate wide exposure for such work.