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11 Pixar Short Films That Are Guaranteed To Brighten Up Your Day

All the emotion of Toy Story or Wall-E, but in just a few minutes.

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1. Partly Cloudy (2009)

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Clouds make adorable baby animals and storks carry them to their new homes in Partly Cloudy, except there's one cloud who doesn't quite get it. Instead of puppies and kittens, he's making crocodiles and porcupines, much to the horror of his poor stork. As with a lot of Pixar, the animation is cute and the story is both funny and heartwarming – without being overly soppy.

2. Day & Night (2010)

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Day & Night is made brilliant by its outstanding use of animation and sound, but it also carries a really strong message of leaving your comfort zone and embracing new ideas – which is put across perfectly through the use of an extract from a speech by Dr Wayne Dyer called "Fear of the Unknown". This is up there with Pixar's very best shorts, and it may even be the best of all. If you've not seen it, it's an absolute must-watch, and if you have, then watch it again.

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3. Luxo Jr (1986)

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Pixar has a knack for making things that shouldn't be cute extremely so – as here, with the inanimate lamp that has gone on to become its mascot and one of the most recognisable logos in the world. The short is only a minute and half long, but it's simple, amusing, and adorable all at the same time. How do they make such a boring object so completely human?

4. Lifted (2006)

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Originally shown before Ratatouille, Lifted is five minutes of laughs centring around an incompetent young alien trying to impress his disgruntled dad by pulling off his first abduction. It might not quite have the emotional hook of some of Pixar's very best shorts, but is definitely one of the funniest, and the ending is perfect.

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5. La Luna (2011)

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Wait for the end – that's all we can really say about La Luna. For a good part of the film you're wondering what's really going on – are they trying to steal the moon? But when it all comes together, the short's lesson is put across in a beautiful way, and the way the moon's brightness is created by the glow from fallen stars is original and sweet.

6. Lava (2014)

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If you haven't seen Inside Out, the latest Pixar movie, yet, you should, because it's excellent, but the ticket is worth it purely for Lava, which is being shown before it. It's the story of a lonely volcano whose only wish is to have "someone to lava"; the song is beautiful and the animation is pretty spectacular. Who knew a lava-spewing volcano could make you cry?

(Unfortunately, the film itself isn't on YouTube yet, but even the song and still images are probably enough to get the tears jerking.)

7. For the Birds (2000)

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"Don't be a dick" – that's basically the message of For the Birds, which is the story of how a bunch of little birds get pissed off (you could call them angry birds) when a friendly bigger bird wants to come along and share their telephone wire with them. As always, the bullies get their comeuppance in the end.

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8. Geri's Game (1997)

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We all used to play games against ourselves when we were kids, so why not do it in old age too? Geri's Game, which shows an old man sitting in a park with his chessboard, is maybe Pixar's cleverest short. It captures the power of imagination and also that irrational feeling of really wanting one particular side to win, even when you're playing against yourself. The twist is excellent, and the ending will leave you with a satisfied smile on your face.

9. Tin Toy (1988)

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You could think of Tin Toy as a kind of teaser for Toy Story – in fact, it was one of the inspirations behind it, and helped convince Disney to make Woody, Buzz, and Co a reality. It's about a one-man band toy called Tinny and a baby, Billy, whose playing method (shaking toys around and putting them in his mouth, usual baby stuff) terrifies all his toys. You can absolutely see Toy Story's origins in this short – the theme of jealousy is strong (and Billy also looks a little bit like Sid).

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10. Presto (2008)

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Presto might not carry a deep moral message like some of these other shorts, but it does carry a very important one – don't mess with someone when they're hungry. It tells the story of magician Presto DiGiotagione and his rabbit, Alec Azam. All Alec wants is his carrot, but Presto is happy to toy with him to amuse his crowd. The combination leads to them putting on a hilarious show.

11. The Blue Umbrella (2013)

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Lamps, volcanos, umbrellas... Pixar really can make you care about anything. The Blue Umbrella plays on one of its classic themes – the simple desire for companionship – as well as our tendency to see faces in everyday objects. The combination of the two makes for an incredibly cute short that takes your heart on a journey, and it has an animation style that makes it a little different from Pixar's usual pictures.

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