Smash and Grab crystallises the central cooperation of workers for a brief examination on societal segregation. Two functioning robots, one that smashes luminescent minerals and the other grabs the crushed rocks to toss into a furnace, are hooked up via power cables with limited space to roam about within a futuristic locomotive’s carriage. So restricted, that the two are unable to high-five. They soon witness several droids high above outside equipped with spherical batteries to maintain their power level, a freedom that both robots yearn for. And so, they disregard the rules and operate as a team to escape their confinements for a better life together.
Think of this as Stanton’s ‘WALL-E’ with the cooperative boundaries of the puzzle video game ‘Portal 2’, specifically the multiplayer aspect. Larsen’s visual narrative, equipped with zero dialogue, manages to superfluously establish a story revolving around escape. The working class desiring the middle class lifestyle. Only one tiny scene unfortunately briefly explores this theme, as further exploration could’ve made the robot’s motivation more potent. However, its typical Pixar charm comes from the delightful characters that comprise of monotonous “beeps” and “boops”. Both Smash and Grab (yes, that’s their self-titled names) exude different personalities and statures from animation alone. Smash’s one eye in particular garnering the ability to reflect emotion by increasing or minimising its diameter. Simplistic character models, yet hugely effective in resembling human motion and exerting infectious energy.
The animation, as per usual, maintains the studio’s highest quality. Especially the broadening horizons when viewing at the locomotive’s exterior shots. There was a grainy aesthetic implemented to enhance a rustic style, although this ultimately made certain darker scenes look too fuzzy in comparison to the more beautifully glowing frames. The 2D panels of the towering floating stacks of minerals against a 3D backdrop also felt out of place. Still, Smash and Grab is an exquisitely delightful short that manages to just implement its themes with the utmost subtlety whilst offering a splendid direct adventure of escapism.