When one thinks of world domination, the Amish aren’t exactly way up there at the top of the list of threats. Yet, as an unsuspecting homeowner examines his housewarming gift, a bowl of seemingly innocent Amish Friendship Bread dough, he hears a television announcer warn that the very same stuff is currently taking over the world. Regarding his gift in horror, he watches as the TV anchorman explains how the stuff actually arrived on a meteorite, festered underground for millennia, and is currently overrunning the globe. The live feed shows the Army, under the hard-bitten General Biffton, attacking the lava-like dough, with disastrous results. When the TV cuts to a blurb stating that “War of the Worlds II” will return in a moment, however, the panicked homeowner lets out a tremendous, and slightly embarrassed, sigh of relief. He looks at his gift. It was just a movie.
Or was it?
The animation in “The Amish Friendship Bread Conspiracy,” an effective blend of claymation figures topped by highly expressive photographs of the respective actors’ faces, is undeniably superb. It’s a technique that’s both disarming and even a little disorienting, yet, definitely eye-catching, colorful and highly unique.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with animated shorts, the skillful animation totally outclasses the storytelling. Just explaining something as relatively exotic as Amish Friendship Bread nearly takes up four minutes, let alone trying to combine that with a goofy “War of the Worlds” parody. As enjoyable as director Joram Schwartz’ film is to watch, it’s fairly difficult to keep up with the rapidly evolving storyline. That, or it looked so cool, I simply wanted to watch more of what I was seeing which, in a way, is sort of a backhanded compliment.
Either way, “The Amish Friendship Bread Conspiracy,” like dough riddled with lazy yeast cultures, just doesn’t quite rise to the occasion.