Meeting MacGuffin

Humanity is fraught with stories of rebirth after great disasters. From artist Catya Plate comes Meeting MacGuffin, her latest stop-animation short and second part of her “animated ecological thriller” trilogy. In case you missed the first part, Hanging By A Thread, far into the future, humanity is but a memory. What’s left of humans are scattered pieces of brains, pelvises, and feet. A strange humanoid race known as the Clothespin Freaks have gathered all the brain, pelvises, and feet they could find and wired them together into living creatures they call Homeys.

In Meeting MacGuffin, their story continues as the Clothespin Freaks go on the search for more body parts. A Lost-And-Found sign comes to life and leads our crew to the groundhogs because this species has a way of finding alternative solutions to problems. Upon arrival at groundhog lair, everyone must work together to find and create the remaining body parts of the Homeys, including skin, hair, and much more.

“…everyone must work together to find and create the remaining body parts of the Homeys…”

During their search, we learn that ages ago, humans ruled the earth and as they grew too large in population, they used up all the Earth’s resources, primarily water and air. The human race died out as they collapsed, dried up, and then fell apart. A question arises. If the Clothespin Freaks rebuild the human race won’t the environmental problem return?

If you’ve ever attempted to create a stop-motion animated short, you know it’s hard to do. Quality ranges from simple objects pushed a few millimeters per frame, to articulated action figures like Robot Chicken, and then the highly advanced puppets and sets from Aardman Animations along with the work of Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas)—a high standard indeed.

“It’s like cooking. Read the recipe and perform step one, then two, then three, and so on…”

Along the stop-animation spectrum, Meeting MacGuffin lands on that last step before you bring advanced articulation to your puppets. Catya Plate’s sets are skillfully built with materials purchased at a hobby/model store, and her creatures are essentially wire-skeletons with no joints. Mouth movements are doing through a series of replaceable parts. All this to say, the animation is pretty clunky and nowhere near the quality of Robot Chicken. But she is persistent, and she can manage a dozen characters at one time. It’s quite a feat for a small budget animated short.

Quality aside, let’s discuss story. So far the story is a straight linear line of events. This event happens, then that event happens. We go to see the Ground Hogs, and they help us out, and then we move on to the next. It’s like cooking. Read the recipe and perform step one, then two, then three, and so on. No one has a character arc; the story just happens with little drama. So it lacks depth in both story and character. That said, the last part of the trilogy may address this issue, but Meeting MacGuffin pretty much serves as an extension of the first part, which is basically to add body parts to the Homeys.

Meet MacGuffin (2017) Written and directed by Catya Plate. Starring Richard Horvitz, Misty Lee, John McBride.

5 out of 10 stars

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