One of the many advantages Disney+ has given Disney, is the ability to experiment a little more and with that, we’ve seen a number of short experimental programs launch across the streaming platform, including “Short Circuit” from Disney Animation and “Sparkshorts” from Pixar. While the live-action division of Walt Disney Studios released “Launchpad”, and a second batch of six episodes is set to arrive on Disney+ on Friday, 29th September 2023.
The second season features six shorts from underrepresented backgrounds who were given the opportunity to share their perspectives and creative visions. The idea behind the series of shorts is to allow Disney to diversify the types of stories that are being told by giving access to those who historically have not had it. And while watching this second batch of shorts, it’s certainly great to see Disney trying to tell different stories.
In general, every one of these shorts had one major problem, they just felt too long. Coming in at just under twenty minutes per film, they often felt a little stretched out and, in some cases, could have easily have been trimmed down to possibly a third of the time, especially when you compare them to the run time of the “Short Circuit” and “SparkShorts” ones, which I think are just far superior. Giving new talent an opportunity to tell a story and to allow some talent to get some experience at being a director and a writer is fantastic, but Disney really needed to be much stricter on the time available to them, to focus the story down and make it more compelling.
Determined to win an ice cream competition with a flavour inspired by her late Tia Abuela’s Puerto Rican treats, a teen girl turns to her trailer park neighbours to help figure out the winning recipe. Unfortunately for me, “Beautiful, FL” was my least favourite of all the shorts, because I feel it was easily the worst offender for being overbloated. They could have easily trimmed it by half and received the same result. The story about a young girl wanting to replicate her late Granma’s recipe is nice, but with some odd trailer park neighbours, including “The Goldberg’s” Wendi McLendon-Covey, it just seemed unnecessary.
Rating 2.5 out of 5
Twelve-year-old Clarice Cheung feels like she’s invisible, especially next to her older sister Naomi. But when a fight breaks out at the dinner table, it awakens a ghost that begins taking the family, one by one. Now Clarice and Naomi must work together to stop this powerful spirit, before their family is torn apart forever. This short is one of the strongest ones in the collection and the concept could have easily been scaled up to a feature-length horror movie, as the idea is pretty interesting. One of the most interesting elements of this story is the relationship the youngest girl has with her mother, as they are struggling to communicate since the girl’s Korean isn’t that great and the mother’s English isn’t that great, but the older sister is desperate to fix the situation. If you were only to watch one or two shorts from this collection, this would be one of those!
Rating – 4 out of 5
Determined to prove himself a Compton legend like his ex-fighter dad, an offbeat teen steals the family’s secret martial arts technique to use at a well-renowned underground dojo. Seeking respect amongst peers, he learns quickly that there’s more to being a man than throwing hands. The short stars Seth Carr from “The Mysterious Benedict Society”, who is really good in the short. Once again, it could have been trimmed down a little and having recently watched multiple seasons of “Cobra Kai”, this one just didn’t seem that original.
Rating 3 out of 5
This is a really charming story about Allie, who is struggling to introduce her first girlfriend to her family. While the family is celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival, Allie gets help from the spirit of a long-lost relative, who has been forgotten by the family, as she left to be her true self, but never reconnected with her family, who didn’t understand. It’s a heartwarming story of acceptance, especially within an Asian family and how difficult it can be. There are some fun moments as Maxine discovers the joys of leaping from body to body, but it’s also heartbreaking to see how she struggles with the same issues Allie has with her parents. “Maxine” is probably my favourite short from the collection and was one of the few shorts that needed to be around twenty minutes long to deal with the situation. It’s certainly a highlight of this collection.
Rating 4 out of 5
A brilliant child scientist must join forces with her sister when a cloning experiment goes awry while trying to make a clone of her recently deceased best friend. This short deals with a pretty hard topic, grief, and I think it handles it okay, but it’s also a short that could be shown on the Disney Channel. It’s got a hard-hitting storyline, but there is plenty of kid-friendly humour in here to keep you entertained.
Rating 2.5 out of 5
After being sent to stay with their grandfather, a Northern Cheyenne teen discovers a connection to their family and community in a way they never thought possible. This is a charming story of acceptance, and also just of a generational difference, with a lovely conclusion. However, it also was way too long to get to the actual point.
Rating 3 out of 5
Overall, the idea behind “Launchpad” sounds great, but this collection suffers from most of the shorts being too long and bloated. I also feel Disney is 100% right in wanting to tell new and unique stories from a different perspective, but I can’t help but feel this program should take more inspiration from how the other short programs, just because live-action is cheaper to make than animation, shouldn’t necessarily mean they should be longer.
“Launchpad” season 2 has a few standouts like “Maxine” and “The Ghost”, which I did enjoy watching, but the rest just aren’t up to the standard you’d hope to see from Disney. While it is an experimental program to find new talent and tell different stories, these shorts just aren’t going to entertain the main Disney+ audience like a “Sparkshort” can. I really hope the “Launchpad” program continues, but I think they need to set a much shorter time limit and broaden the stories out to a larger audience. Obviously, the short programs are a vital “Launchpad’ for those looking to step up in the industry, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in this series of shorts, especially after so many amazing shorts from the other short programs Disney is running.
Overall Rating – 3 Out Of 5
“Launchpad” Season 2 arrives on Disney+ on Friday 29th September 2023.
Will you be checking these out? Let us know on social media!
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.