Put together by Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt, “The Animation Show” is a traveling animation festival screening the best in…well, animated shorts…the best to Judge and Hertzfeldt anyway. In case you missed the show – you lazy bastard – or live in a shithole town without a theater classy enough to run a program of animated shorts, here’s the Volume One DVD of “The Animation Show,” a collection of films screened during the festival’s first theatrical tour and it is indeed CLASSY. I’ve never really seen a collection as cohesive as this one. It really is all about the entire program and not just the individual films hoping to stand out more than others. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have my favorites here, but I still consider them a piece of this larger work that is “The Animation Show” unlike other compilations I’ll throw on just to see maybe six or seven shorts and be done with it. This disc is solid all the way through and when you’re through, there are plenty of extras to check out such as production galleries, commentaries and bonus clips.
Class, baby, class.
Welcome to the Show ^ Directed by Don Hertzfeldt
Don “A monkey poured coffee in my boots” Hertfeldt provides us with his own version of the classic drive-in “Lets all go to the lobby” concession stand promo. Anyone that’s seen “Rejected” or “Billy’s Balloon” can imagine what that can be like. For those of you who haven’t, you need to see more cartoons!
This is the first in a trilogy of shorts on this DVD, created exclusively for “The Animation Show” by Hertzfeldt, which makes this disc a must have for “Rejected” fans.
Mt. Head ^ Directed by Koji Yamamura ^ As it’s played quite a few festivals over the past year, I’ve heard quite a bit about this animated short and now I know why – it’s a gorgeous work, blending 2D animation with CGI.
A man eats a bunch of cherry seeds only to soon find a cherry tree growing on top of his head and then soon after, a an entire civilization of tiny human beings, which end up driving the man insane. What’s it all mean? Damned if I know, but it sure is purty to look at.
Brother, Cousin, Uncle ^ Directed by Adam Elliot ^ Created by Academy Award winner Adam Elliot (“Harvey Krumpet”), this is another trilogy spread throughout this disc. Through claymation, this trilogy of shorts details the eccentricities of Elliot’s family, playing out like animated versions of “Gummo,” just not as brutal.
Each short focuses on the titular family member and the bizarre relationship Adam has with them. These relationships are so off the wall that there’s more than plenty of humor to be found in each film, but you’re more likely to be drawn in to the amazing storytelling rather than slap your knee silly.
Parking ^ Directed by Bill Plympton ^ This is Bill Plympton’s version of a Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam showdown, but with a parking lot attendant and a pesky weed instead. Only fuckin’ Plympton, man.
The Adventures of Ricardo ^ Directed by Corky Quakenbush ^ And yet another trilogy of shorts – each of these clay animated films details the thoughts and adventures of a kind of retarded kid named Ricardo. You have stuff like Ricardo tying up his cat just like he’s seen Madonna tied up in her “Sex” book and his illustrated thoughts on the Incredible Hulk. It’s material like this that works great to break up the serious tone from some of the other shorts.
Moving Illustrations of Machines ^ Directed by Jeremy Solterbeck ^ The title pretty much says it all. This is XXX rated porn for cyberpunks and gearheads.
La Course A L’Abime ^ Directed by Georges Schwizgebel ^ You always get at least a couple of these in compilations like this. Experimental pieces that are usually nice to look at, that is if they’re not too long. This one is just right and hopefully by this time in the program your drugs have kicked in so you can enjoy the full effect.
Billy’s Balloon ^ Directed by Don Hertzfeldt
It’s the Hertzfeldt classic that proved a stick figure holding a balloon can be one of the funniest things you’ve ever seen.
The Cathedral ^ Directed by Tomek Baginski ^ And just when I was wondering if there was going to be anything completely CG – WHAM! – there it was. “The Cathedral” is a really impressive piece about a man reaching a cathedral at the end of the world. I won’t tell you anymore as it’s the end that makes the whole film. Just trust me that it’s the goods.
Intermission in the Third Dimension ^ Directed by Don Hertzfeldt ^ The puffy little characters with stick arms and legs from Don’s “Rejected” shorts return to take a trip into the world of 3D. During this intermission you don’t want to be caught haggling for a hot dog out at the concession stand.
Fifty Percent Grey ^ Directed by Ruairi Robinson, Seamus Byrne ^ A dead soldier wakes up in the afterlife, a blank, white world with nothing but a widescreen TV telling him that he’s dead. When the plan to kill himself again doesn’t quite pan out, he finds himself in worse trouble than he was before.
Despite being a powerfully scary story, what stands out most in this CG short is the character design of the human character. It seems that when it comes to human characters, so many CG animators feel the need to bring as much realistic quality to the subject as possible. Not the case here. This character has a more cartoony look about him and I buy that way more than someone trying to replicate a live action actor.
Early Pencil Tests and Other Experiments ^ Directed by Mike Judge ^ Mike Judge fans will pack their shorts when they see this tidy little collection of never-before-seen pencil tests and short clips. It’s nice to see what led to the creation of two of television’s biggest dumbshits – no, not Regis and Kelly Ripa – Beavis & Butthead.
Aria ^ Directed by Pjotr Sapegin ^ This stop-motion reimagining of “Madame Butterfly” is the prettiest piece on this disc. It also features one of the most rousing sex scenes bewteen stop-motion characters.
I said “rousing”.
Bathtime in Clerkenwell ^ Directed by Alex Budovsky ^ A Flash musical number, or what at least appears to be Flash, about birds taking over the world or whatever. A little something to pick up those who maybe have had too much to drink during the previous films.
The Rocks ^ Directed by Chris Stenner, Heidi Wittlinger ^ A couple of rock formations watch and comment on the growing world around them throughout the ages. They watch as technology builds skyscrapers and freeways, only to tear itself down without any effect on them.
The End of the Show ^ Directed by Don Hertzfeldt ^ Don leads us out with a magnificent laser battle that will make sci-fi nerds stand up and shout.