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Nate & John

By Alan Ng | June 21, 2024

Director Jumai Yusuf’s animated short film, Nate & John, written by David Bickel and Michael Bickel, is a story of the enduring quality of friendship.

Nate is a young black apprentice at a local barber shop in 1966. One afternoon, John is dragged into the shop by his father to have something done about his son’s hippie haircut. Taking the challenge, Nate finds a cut that will appease both father and son. Now a regular, John returns the favor by introducing Nate to a beautiful woman standing just outside the window.

“…John is dragged into the shop by his father to have something done about his son’s hippie haircut.”

In seven minutes, Nate & John follow the bonds of friendship over the titular characters’ lives. Nate feels lost after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., and John just sits on the couch to be there. At one point, John brings his son in to see Nate cut off his punk locks. The barber refuses. Throughout, the emotional beats are clearly established.

With minimal dialogue (the only voice heard is the reporter talking about MLK’s death) and a jazzy soundtrack, Yusuf effectively communicates a great deal in their animation without uttering a word. The themes of friendship and loyalty are skillfully conveyed through body language alone. This feat is challenging even with live actors, let alone animated ones.

3D animation has not diminished the love of 2D animation. If anything, 3D makes me yearn for the traditional art and animation of the past. Nate & John satisfied that longing in me, and I know it will for you too.

Nate & John (2024)

Directed: Jumai Yusuf

Written: David Bickel, Michael Bickel

Starring: Ben Holtzmuller, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Nate & John Image

"…friendship and loyalty are skillfully conveyed..."

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