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By Mark Bell | March 9, 2014

Owen’s parents turned into cats before they could teach him about sex. So when Mary (Allie Gallerani) asks Owen (Jonathan Gordon) if he wants to have sex, he’s caught off guard. What to do, how to act and what’s with his constant fixation on this image of a chocolate heart?

Harrison Atkins’ short film, Chocolate Heart, is one of those films where you have to be careful what you share in a review, because you don’t want to ruin any of the surprises. I don’t think I’ve given away much more than what the film’s own synopsis does, but if I did, I apologize. It’s still a hilariously odd experience.

I mean, any film that opens with “my parents turned into cats,” without any lead-in or explanation, has my undivided attention. Owen’s is a world of strange commonalities. His eventual grasp of sex being one that I’ve heard expressed before in jest, but seeing it actually come to life, on screen, is another matter entirely.

The short has a dry, matter-of-factness to its absurdity, but that’s why it works. Had it committed entirely to over the top or quirky, without the contrast, I doubt the humor would resonate for as long as it does. It’s the juxtaposition of the insane with the straightforward that keeps it all so wonderfully awkward. If only Mom and Dad had been able to teach Owen before their cat transformation! Then again, if they had, we wouldn’t have this tale to enjoy.

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