Posted: 06/27/2008


The Animation Show 4

by Lauren Sepanski

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After seeing The Animation Show grow from year one while I was living in Chicago, (one of the more artsy-fartsy areas of America), I have come to expect certain things. I have come to expect a Mike Judge short (if only a pencil test), a new Don Hertzfeldt and this year’s Bill Plympton. There are other studios I have come to know in the past 3 years, such as the PES shorts and Tomek Baginski, that were there and at their best or not there at all. This is the second year I would be seeing The Animation Show in L.A., and it’s not that it’s diluted—it just seems like it’s been going downhill for awhile. Last year’s show wasn’t as good, but there was still a Hertzfeldt short (as depressing as it was). This year, The Animation Show 4 was good. I had fun and laughed my ass off, it just didn’t feel like a part of the past Animation Shows.

Bill Plympton’s latest in his series of “Dog” toons was, as usual, hilarious and clever. Plympton’s “Dog” tries so hard to contribute to society and be of use to people, but he always ends up killing or maiming them instead. It’s a lot like a Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon, or a Sylvester and Tweety, but it’s Dog versus his own misfortune. It’s always a crowd favorite, as well as a personal favorite.

“Psychotown” by Dave Carter stood out as, perhaps, a new favorite, as the limited animation but hilarious dialogue stood out among the audience. From Australia and using stopmotion animation with cardboard cut outs, it seems to remind people of a slightly more intelligent Terrance & Philip of South Park cartoon, (minus the farting). “Angry Unpaid Hooker” by Steve Dildarian was one of the better shorts, but again rode the great dialogue/crappy, limited animation idea. It must have worked with more than just The Animation Show’s audience that night, because during the Q&A portion after the show, Dildarian mentioned that it was picked up by HBO as a show called The Life and Times of Tim. We’ll see how it pans out. It was odd to see so many French shorts as The Animation Show usually takes from all over the world in a wider variety. There were more French animated shorts this year than any other year, maybe all three past years combined. Not that I have anything against the French or their cartoons (yet).

All in all, I was disappointed by the lack of a new Don Hertzfeldt, but that’s all. Everything else this year was funny, entertaining and worth the time to drive all the way out to your semi-local art theater and sit through some irritating documentary and experimental film trailers. It’s better when you’re with a group, and I highly recommend seeing the past three Animation Shows on DVD first.

Lauren Sepanski is a writer and film critic in Los Angeles.

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