Geri's Game

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Geri's Game
Poster for Geri's Game
Poster for Geri's Game
Directed by Jan Pinkava
Produced by Karen Dufilho
Written by Jan Pinkava
Starring Bob Peterson
Music by Gus Viseur
Edited by Jim Kallett
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • November 24, 1997 (1997-11-24)[1]
  • November 25, 1998 (1998-11-25) (with A Bug's Life)
Running time
5 minutes
Country United States

Geri's Game is a 1997 computer animated short film made by Pixar, written and directed by Jan Pinkava. Although Pixar had started out with a successful string of shorts in the 1980s, these were put on hold for most of the 1990s to focus on for-hire work, and development of the feature films Toy Story and A Bug's Life; Geri's Game was the first Pixar short since the 1989 short Knick Knack. The film won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1998.


The film is set in an empty park during autumn. The title character, Geri (voiced by Bob Peterson), is an elderly man who plays a game of chess against himself, "becoming" each of the players in turn by moving to the other side of the chessboard, where he changes his personality and either puts on or takes off his glasses to show this change. As the game progresses, it seems as though there are two people playing; at one point, the hands of both "opponents" are in frame. Black Geri (without the glasses) soon gains the upper hand over White Geri (with them), capturing every piece except his king and putting him in check. However, White Geri outsmarts Black Geri by faking a heart attack to distract him and spinning the board around. While Black Geri is still distracted, White Geri checkmates what is now his opponent's king. Finding that now he is the one with only his king left and discovering what has happened, Black Geri resigns the game and hands over a set of dentures as the prize. White Geri puts them in, then chuckles and grins in his victory, before the camera pulls back to reveal that he is alone at the chessboard.


The first Pixar production to have a human main character, Geri's Game was produced with the goal to "take human and cloth animation to new heights".[2][3][4]

The face of the character Geri resembles actor Jonathan Harris, who also provided the voice of Geri for his later appearance in Toy Story 2, where he is a toy repairman who fixes Woody's torn arm. Chess pieces can be seen in his carrying case, in a nod to the short. Jan Pinkava, the film's writer and director, has said the character is loosely based on himself and his elderly relatives, particularly his grandfather who was a frequent and avid chess player.[5]

Chess inconsistencies[edit]

The chess game itself has many mistakes with impossible moves being played and pieces changing locations between frames. The game begins 1.e4 e5 2.f3 d5 3.Be2 Nc6 4.Na3 Bxa3. At this point, the white bishop that had moved to e2 disappears from e2 and re-appears at f1. The game continues with 5.d4 Nxd4 6.Nh3 and then Black makes an impossible move, apparently capturing a pawn on c3 with his dark squared bishop. In the next frame that bishop is back on a3 and most of the subsequent moves are illegal/impossible. The game then fast-forwards to the end, where a checkmate already appears on the board, but neither player appears to understand that the game has ended. The white player switches the board around and then makes one last move to end the game.


Geri's Game premiered on November 24, 1997 at Laemmle's Monica Theater in Santa Monica, California.[1] It was also attached to the theatrical release of A Bug's Life in 1998[6] and was subsequently featured on that film's VHS and DVD releases.[7] A VHS recording of the short film was released in 1998, but it was not widely available and is considered rare. However, Geri's Game can be found on the DVD Pixar Short Films Collection - Volume 1. It was also released on super-8 film with stereo sound.




  1. ^ a b Pixar Animation Studios (November 24, 1997). "Question: Where Can You Get a Glimpse of the Future of Animation?; Answer: At an Exclusive Screening - From the Makers of 'Toy Story' - Tonight!". The Free Library. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ Geri's Game - Behind the Scenes at Pixar
  3. ^ Robertson, Barbara. "Meet Geri: The New Face of Animation", Computer Graphics World, 1998.
  4. ^ DeRose, T; Kass, M; Truong, T (1998), "Subdivision surfaces in character animation", Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 1998 
  5. ^ "Interview with Jan". Pixar. February 2002. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  6. ^ Maslin, Janet (25 November 1998). "A Bug's Life (1998)". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "The $152 Million Hit Movie That Broke All Thanksgiving Box Office Records". Pixar. 29 January 1999. Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  8. ^ "The 70th Academy Awards (1998) Nominees and Winners". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Knick Knack
Pixar Animation Studios short films
Succeeded by
For the Birds