If Terry Gilliam was hired to direct the next Disney/Pixar film, you would end up with “The Freak.” This 6 minute computer generated short delivers as any great animated piece should. There are stunning backgrounds and landscapes, and the characters – exemplified by the Freak himself – have more personality than many actors in Hollywood films.
The Freak is a warped mutation that lives in the hum-drum city of symmetry and order where the “normal” inhabitants plod through their daily grind like Sims. He emerges from the sewers one day to dance in the streets and is immediately thrown into jail. There, the Sims study him in a dungeon reminiscent of that in “Brazil” and populated with other Freaks. He is given two pictures to choose from – a normal one and a freakish one. Of course, “The Freak” always chooses the freakish one, and because of this he is thrown into a padded cell.
With a little help from a lab rat, the Freak escapes and leads a revolt of all Freaks. (Of course, their revolt is nothing more than a chance to dance in the streets.) The Sim army attacks the Freak parade in the middle of downtown that looks like Rouge City in A.I. – but the Freak finds a way to prevail in the end.
“The Freak” reminds me of some of the earliest CGI films like “Snoot and Mutley,” which gave a warped edge to the cuteness of Pixar’s desk lamps. No watered-down Disney cuteness here – but also no edginess just for the sake of edginess. The Freak’s world is a fun place to visit, if not a bit twisted.
“The Freak” is inventive and unique, and it kicks butt over other popular shorts like “Killer Bean” and Steve Oedekerk’s thumb abortions. Such ingenuity, which is found most often in animation, is refreshing and gives me hope for indie film.