Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
It's all here, from the genius (Lifted, One Man Band) to the banal (Mater and the Ghostlight, Boundin') to the pre-movie-era stuff, where you get to see Pixar in its infancy.
In fact, there's stuff from before Pixar was Pixar, including The Adventures of Andre and Wally B., made as part of an experimental Disney division. It's rough stuff, but enlightening: Pixar's first attempt at animating humans in Tin Toy (which features a baby chasing a toy around the room) is so creepy and disturbing that I'm going to have nightmares about it. Still, you gotta learn to crawl before you run, right?
Pixar's short form storytelling is nowhere near as exciting as its features. Only two of the 13 shorts (Lifted and One Man Band, as mentioned above) have anything approaching an interesting plot. Lifted involves an alien abductee trainee who can't get a handle on getting a sleeping victim out of bed and through the window. One Man Band involves dueling street performers, both trying to get a precious gold coin out of a fickle kid by one-upping each other with outrageous acts.
Sadly, much of the fare (Mater and the Ghostlight, Jack-Jack Attack, Mike's New Car) comes across as promo material for the Pixar features, including characters from Cars, The Incredibles, and Monsters Inc., respectively. With the possible exception of Jack-Jack, they don't do much to enhance the stories we already know too well.
If you're a die-hard Pixar-head and want to see how the studio got to where it is now, give the DVD a look. Commentary tracks and a "short history" of Pixar are also included. But be advised, this one really isn't a "mandatory" purchase for the kids.