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Red's Dream (1987)

 -  Animation | Short | Family
6.5
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With a sale tag hanging from his seat, propped up in the corner of a bicycle store on a rainy night, Red the unicycle dreams about a better place.

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Title: Red's Dream (1987)

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With a sale tag hanging from his seat, propped up in the corner of a bicycle store on a rainy night, Red the unicycle dreams about a better place. Written by Kathy Li

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The legacy of Red the unwanted unicycle
30 May 2004 | by (East Anglia, UK) – See all my reviews

'Red's Dream', at the time of writing, currently ranks as one of Pixar's lesser known efforts, something which I find quite ironic considering the subject matter of this endearing little short - a lonely and dejected unicycle has to deal with being the only item in a bicycle store restricted to the clearance corner. His only real coping mechanism is to sit there dreaming of better things, and the amazing stunts he could pull if only given a chance to prove his worth, in particular upstaging a rather clueless clown in the circus ring. It's more of a situation than a story, really, but it works very well, and you get a good feel of Red's sorrow and predicament as it goes. And I can't help but love it as much as any of the company's classic material

  • it's downbeat, there isn't a great deal to laugh at, and its overall


sombreness will probably come as quite a shock to anyone raised solely on 'Knick Knack', 'For the Birds' and Pixar's other various laugh-out-loud contributions. But 'Red's Dream' manages to hold the viewer's attention through something a little more striking than just its potential comedy value. For all its fantastical personification, it succeeds in capturing a very real and very poignant aspect of human nature - that is, the desire for escapism from a bleak reality.

The reality in which our protagonist lives - as reflected in the colourlessness of the bicycle store - is cruel and harsh, and subjects him to constant negligence from those around him (not even the other bicycles seem to respond to him). But Red finds solace in his dream, however temporarily, and I know that everyone can identify with him on that one on at least some level, just as we can all see something of ourselves in both Woody and Buzz of the 'Toy Story' realm. Strange as it may sound, you really end up feeling for this poor little wheel, and when he envisions his colourful circus scene, and being loved by the audience, you really wish that it could come true and that he could stay there. But at the same time, you're left with the uneasy awareness that that's all it is - a dream, and nothing more - and that Red will have to face up to the real world sooner or later.

The 3D animation quality is nice enough - that clown does look pretty grotesque and chunky I'll admit, being Pixar's first real attempt at an organic character, and a telling sign of their current lack of expertise in this particular field, but then again, he IS a clown, so I don't think it really matters! Otherwise, the visuals are thumbs up, and Red himself is undeniably cute (it says, a lot don't you think, that you can end up getting attached to an animated unicycle with no organic features whatsoever?) On the whole, the general mood of the short did leave me feeling a little cold, but appropriately so, and it's definitely worthy of being a classic in the same league as 'Luxo Jr'.

Above all, Pixar are capable of making me actually care about such everyday inanimate objects as desk lamps, tin toys, miniature snowmen and unicycles - and that has got to be worth something.

Grade: A-


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