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Western Animation / Knick Knack

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Knick Knack is a 1989 short film from Pixar, written and directed by John Lasseter.

On a bookshelf filled with vacation-themed souvenirs, a snowman named Knick (who is the cousin of Frosty the Snowman, according to the audio commentary), who resides in a Nome, Alaska snow globe, wants to reach a "Sunny Miami" knick knack that shows a pretty blonde girl in a blue bikini. Knick tries several unsuccessful methods to break out of the globe, culminating in detonating TNT explosives. None of these work, but the TNT causes the globe to fall over the shelf's edge. Knick notices an emergency exit in the base and frees himself just before he and the globe fall into a fishbowl. Here Knick sees a pretty mermaid souvenir from "Sunny Atlantis" and runs toward her, but before he can reach her, the globe settles to the bottom and traps him again.


Knick Knack's production is one of the most noted from Pixar's early days. The team all agreed to do something simpler that would not "drive us all crazy," according to producer Ralph Guggeinheim. When watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit during the production of Tin Toy, Lasseter became inspired to create a Chuck Jones-type of cartoon. Rather than to challenge the limitations of the computer as they had done in the previous shorts, the animators wanted to make a short based on geometric shapes instead, which was a strength of the computer. In a discussion with the group, Lasseter brought up famed Warner Bros. and MGM director Tex Avery, noting that his cartoons were wild and exuberant, yet not necessarily very complex.


Knick Knack provides examples of:

  • Bowdlerization: In the version on the Toy Story CAV LaserDisc boxset, Sunny Miami and Sunny Atlantis have larger spherical breasts and revealing bras. Starting with the 2003 reissue, they are flat-chested and covered more. This also counts as an Orwellian Retcon.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: At the end, the snow globe just happens to fall on Knick such that he’s right underneath the open door, trapping him inside again instead of flattening him under the globe’s floor.
  • Chekhov's Gun: You can spot the doorknob to the snow globe's exit fairly early on in the short. Knick makes use of the doorway when the snow globe falls off the shelf.
  • The Exit Is That Way: It's only as the snow globe is falling off the the shelf that Knick realizes the bottom of the snow globe has a door.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Knick hates being stuck in his snow globe and wants to join all the other knick-knacks having fun.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Sunny Miami and Sunny Atlantis, the former of whom kickstarts the plot when she gets Knick's attention.
  • Orwellian Retcon: In the original version, Sunny Miami and Sunny Atlantis have very large spherical breasts and revealing bras. In the 2003 release and after, they are flat-chested and covered more. This also counts as Bowdlerization.
  • Silence Is Golden: The closest thing this film has to dialogue is Knick's Donald Duck-like noises while using the jackhammer.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Knick's final attempt to break through the snow globe involves detonating a pile of explosives right next to the globe. This only shakes the globe to the point it hangs over the edge of the shelf.
  • Visual Pun: The "Sunny Palm Springs" trinket is a plastic palm tree mounted on a metal spring.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: At the end of the short, Knick finally gets out of his snow globe after landing in a fishbowl and is running toward the mermaid knick knack, when his snow globe falls on top of him again.