It’s not often that you see something as inventive and imaginative as Puddles, an animated short from the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Circuit program. It’s refreshing and hilarious, full of magic and wonder. In other words, it’s exactly what you expect from Disney, but not what you always get.
Young Noah is being supervised on a city street by a teenager who is so wrapped up in her cell phone that she can’t glance up, no matter what is happening. While splashing through puddles, Noah discovers that they send him into another world and back out a different puddle on the same street. In his efforts to get her attention, he and an adorable puppy use the puddles to jump high in the air and do tricks in hopes that she will join them.
Of the Short Circuit films presented at the D23 Expo, Puddles was the only one that looks like a scene from a modern animated feature, maintaining a typical CG look. But at the same time, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Director Zach Parrish wanted the film to look like a children’s book, with bright and bold colors and simple shapes.
When I saw the short at the D23 Expo, Zach Parrish pointed out that his film is full of Easter Eggs for fans to find. Several of them are from other Short Circuit films, but the fish in the magical world are mostly from Moana and even Maui as a whale makes an appearance, albeit with a new paint job.
Puddles is perhaps the safest, most “Disney” of the Short Circuit films. While none of them feel as far removed from the studio as Pixar’s Spark Shorts often do, Puddles manages to be fresh and inventive within the confines of what you expect a Disney short to be.
I give Puddles 5 out of 5 splashy puppy mid-air backspins.
You can watch Puddles when it premieres exclusively on Disney+
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.