Smash and Grab (2019 film)

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Smash and Grab
Film poster
Directed byBrian Larsen
Produced byDavid Lally
Written byBrian Larsen
StarringKenny Pickett
Music byBarney Jones
CinematographyMatthew Silas (camera)
Farhez Rayani (lighting)
Edited byNicole Vanderneut
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
Running time
8 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States

Smash and Grab is a 2019 American computer-animated science fiction[2] action[3] adventure[3] short film written and directed by Brian Larsen, and produced by Pixar Animation Studios. It is the second film in Pixar's "SparkShorts" program, and focuses on two robots who try to escape from their work routine.


Smash and Grab, two robots who live on a futuristic Mars-like planet, have spent all of their lives working in a futuristic steam train fueled by glowing rocks that have been mined on the planet. One day, Smash notices that there is a world outside the train, and he tells Grab; however, they are held back by their power cables. Smash then discovers that other robots, outside the train, use spherical, crystallized energy-powered batteries. Smash cuts his cable, exits the train, and steals two batteries. When he gets back, he hooks a battery up to Grab, and they escape. Security robots then come in and notice that the robots are gone. Smash and Grab are found by the security guards while standing on the train. Grab is deactivated when a security guard shoots him in the arm. Smash then throws his battery at the security guards, destroying all of them, as well as derailing the train, while Smash is deactivated. Later, Grab reactivates Smash with a battery he found and that he was using as his, thus leaving them attached. The two then begin travelling towards one of the structures that were on the landscape's survey.


Smash and Grab is the second short of Pixar's "SparkShorts" program, which consists in Pixar giving employees six months and limited budgets to produce short animated films.[4] Writer/director Brian Larsen was inspired by the concept of people wanting a change in routine, particularly him wanting a change in his work as a head of story in Pixar.[2] Larsen used robots as main characters in the film because he felt it was "a nice way to express" the idea of wanting a change.[2] As the film focused on robots, Larsen developed it as a science fiction film, which departs from most of Pixar's previous projects (with the exception of WALL-E).[2]

Larsen and the animators used Art Deco designs for the film, as Larson felt that "it felt heavy, it felt fast".[3] The animators also used "simple" character designs in the short, which Larsen described as "almost like appliance toasters".[3] The animators also used motion-capture for Smash and Grab's movements, while having screens in the same room to animate their movements as the characters, something Larsen said it was in order "to capture data and very quickly get [the character's movements] into the computer".[3] Larsen was very pleased with the film's production, stating that he "[loves] making [the] story come to life".[3]


Smash and Grab (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
Released ()
GenreFilm score


Smash and Grab received generally positive reviews from critcs, with many positively comparing the short to Pixar's feature film WALL-E. Jacob Oller, of SyFy Wire, wrote that the short "is a delightful bit of art deco sci-fi outside of Wall-E’s decrepit view of the future".[5] Chelsea Steiner, of The Mary Sue, said that "Smash and Grab, like its predecessor Purl, takes a simple idea and expands it with delightful and entertaining results. It makes us root for two wordless robots and care for them over the course of an 8-minute runtime. That’s animation at its finest".[6] Andy Meek, of BGR, wrote: "if you loved Wall-E, you’ll definitely want to check out these ridiculously adorable robots performing mindless, factory-like jobs and somehow managing to exude charm and likeability with their beeps and boops, human-like motion and luminescent eyes a la our protagonist from Wall-E".[7] Similarly, Michelle Jaworski, of The Daily Dot, said that "Smash and Grab will instantly invoke images and comparisons to Wall-E for its futuristic feel and the robotic focus".[8] Alex Reif, of Laughing Place, said that "[f]ans of WALL-E will feel instantly welcomed into the world of Smash and Grab", and felt that the short has "a clear message inspired by a major societal issue. However, it handles it far more delicately and with a lot more subtlety. This story about two workers who don’t get the same luxuries as those who control them also doesn’t present a sugary solution to a problem while ignoring others".[9]


Smash and Grab was first shown during a limited release at the El Capitan Theatre on January 18, 2019,[10] before officially premiering on Pixar's YouTube channel on February 11, 2019. The short is also set to be released on Disney+.[10][1]


  1. ^ a b Lally, David (Producer); Larsen, Brian (Director) (February 11, 2019). Smash and Grab. Pixar/The Walt Disney Company/YouTube. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Meet the Filmmakers Behind Smash and Grab". Pixar/The Walt Disney Company/YouTube. February 11, 2019. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Go Behind the Scenes of Smash and Grab". Pixar/The Walt Disney Company/YouTube. February 11, 2019. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  4. ^ "Introducing Pixar SparkShorts". Pixar/The Walt Disney Company/YouTube. January 10, 2019. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
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  10. ^ a b Orange, B. Alan (January 10, 2019). "Pixar Announces New Short Film Program Sparkshorts". MovieWeb. Retrieved January 10, 2019.

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