The Surgeon Image

The Surgeon

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | April 15, 2024

The holly jolly knob is cranked up to eleven in the marvelous claymation holiday short The Surgeon by the talented filmmaker Mike O’Reilly. On a snowy night, a man (Mike O’Reilly) and a woman (Margret O’Reilly) welcome the surgeon (Ryan Sean O’Reilly) into their home. They thank him for coming over on such short notice, but the surgeon gruffly gets down to business.

The surgeon lets them know the condition is very serious and asks them to bring some distilled water immediately. The man lets him know they only have tap water. The surgeon is clearly disgusted, especially when the man says the man at the tree lot said tap water would be fine. The surgeon informs the couple about how ignorant the man in the lot is and that their Christmas tree is completely dehydrated. The surgeon works feverishly through the night, trying to keep the poor tree alive…

“…the surgeon gruffly gets down to business.”

In just five minutes, O’Reilly delivers a triple scoop of passion points smothered in sweet satire sauce. The only thing that makes hand-done claymation even more enticing is adding that holiday TV special sheen, a potent combination that decks spray patterns of sentimentality across the halls. O’Reilly brilliantly utilizes the less polished clay work to increase the venom his Rankin & Bass parody carries in its fangs. The rough aesthetic carries that magic charm found in the old Mr. Bill shorts on SNL but with much better animation utilized here.

O’Reilly wisely sets up his shots as if using real human actors, with close-ups and intimate angles, instead of the traditional puppet theatre medium shot. This method increases the humor sparks by contrasting the serious framing and the cartoonish clay creations. The details are remarkable, especially when liquid is replicated, which are gorgeous sapphire gelatinous drops that are so fun to watch high. All the colors pop so creamy, thanks to the color correction by Andres Sercovich, who also applied his laser putty knife to the fine editing.

A special note needs to be given to the handmade costumes by Chetna O’Reilly, which are adorable. In the credits, they are described as “custumes,” which is either an amusing typo or a clever trademark. The Surgeon is a wild gumdrop of a short with a powerful kick for all ages. 

The Surgeon (2024)

Directed and Written: Mike O'Reilly

Starring: Ryan Sean O'Reilly, Mike O'Reilly, Margret O' Reilly, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

The Surgeon Image

"…a triple scoop of passion points smothered in sweet satire sauce."

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