Google Groups no longer supports new Usenet posts or subscriptions. Historical content remains viewable.

REVIEW: Second Animation Celebration: The Movie

Skip to first unread message

Jeff Meyer

Sep 15, 1989, 1:25:16 AM9/15/89
The Second Animation Celebration is a collection of animated shorts put
together by the people who distribute the Tournees of Animation around the
country. It's advertised as being composed of all premieres, which isn't
quite true, but the majority of the shorts were ones I hadn't seen in any
other festival. As animation collections go, this was pretty good; not the
best I've seen, but fairly even, with only a few films which fell flat.

A brief overview:

THE SIMPSONS: Matt Groening of LIFE IN HELL produced about five short
collections of cartoons featuring The Simpsons throughout the film. They're
good -- dead spots exist, but most hit. They're not quite premieres, though
-- I suspect these were originally shown on THE TRACY ULLMAN SHOW. But
they're reliably funny, if a bit drab at points.

LAZAR: Anything that uses some of my favorite classical music as a backdrop,
and then matches the animation with the music, gets points from me. The
lines of the animation, and the perspective, are excellent. Many of the
sight gags fall flat, though, and the ending isn't clever -- very
anti-climatic. A bit long, too, at 11 minutes.

BEAT DEDICATION: Some extremely clever computer animation, merged with
synthesized music, about a mechanical robot drummer bugged (!) by an
electronic insect. Very funny, and uses the computer animation to good
effect with some great p.o.v. shots. Put out by some fellows at M.I.T., one
of those rare computer animation works (outside of the PIXAR shorts) that
don't leave the techniques and the look of the animation to floor you -- the
writer makes his presence known, as well.

PROPAGANDANCE: What if Warner Bros. met Oliphant? Nice music, message is a
bit too simplistic for me, but it comes off without being too chunky.

commercial) from the people who do many of the MTV short animated ads. One
or two high spots (especially the bit on rare, ridiculous animals), but it
began to wear about halfway into the series.

SCAREDY CAT: Very smooth, Disney-like animation, basically aimed at the
kind of gag used in BAMBI MEETS GODZILLA. Doesn't come off as well here.

ASIFA CHILDREN'S FILM: Heaven save me from films made by kids younger than
10. Really, as soon as you seen a half page of credits telling you what
government grants paid for the thing, you know that they're can't be
anything remotely interesting, since it would probably void the conditions
of the grant. I'm sure the parents of the kids who made these films enjoyed
them; next time, give them a video-tape of it, and show an old Looney Tunes
instead for the rest of us, OK?

SALOME: Classical music doesn't always save an animated film. A salami runs
around a room and avoids the cleaver. Ohhhhh-kay...

THE MARATHON: It is supremely ironic that, after tons of hype surrounding
Mickey Mouse's anniversary, the most endearing and touching piece of film to
celebrate this event should come from a group of animators in the Soviet
Union, who certainly had no interest in getting any samoleons out of it.
They did it for the love of the character, and the love of the cartoons they
saw growing up, and both are showed with consummate skill during this
extremely clever and skillful tribute. Mickey and a child as the years go
by, and... but that would be spoiling it. The best film of the Celebration,
and a must for any Disney animation collector. This is one of those films
that reminds you of the magic of animation.

RARG: Twenty-one minutes long, this is more of a story than a short. Good
animation, fairly clever, it tells the story of a utopian society that makes
an amazing discovery one day, and how they deal with it. Excellent for the
first half; bit slow for the third quarter; and then it ends with a
conclusion that leaves me certain that the writer couldn't come up with an
ending to effectively finish the story, so he just threw in what came to
mind. Left me rather frustrated.

KNICKKNACK: Another computer animated short by Pixar, who did TIN TOY (also
shown during the festival). As good, and maybe a touch more entertaining,
than TIN TOY, this film continues the "house style" I've seen in Pixar's
previous work: strong sense of visual humor (especially through p.o.v.),
with a lot of attention on facial expressions, and a visual style in the
backgrounds and figures and colors which identify it as a Pixar short almost
immediately. Classic cartoon humor, redone with computers.

PENCIL DANCE: I can see why this gets a lot of controversy. Black and white
shapes and swirls flow over the screen to music. Some nice stuff; two of
our party (including me) enjoyed it, the other person hated it. It's short
enough not to get wearying.

QUINOSCOPIO #2: More cartoons from Juan Padron of Cuba. Each has a
punchline, and reminds me of some of the cartoons done by the people who did
the Pink Panther cartoons (I forget the name. Not as funny as QUINOSCOPIO
#1, and that wasn't all that good, anyway.

FINGERWAVE: Interesting but not very entertaining. Stop-animated fingers.

UMBABARUMA: Well, I *really* liked the music, but this collection of
images, played to Caribbean music, is a bit too long, and has to be enjoyed
strictly from its visual aspects -- no plot to speak of.

GOODNIGHT NORMA... GOODNIGHT MILTON... : Ack! Too long, too ugly, and
with a point about as subtle as an cruise missile. I hate "message" films
that take their audiences for idiots; angry, without much sense of humor.
The worst film at the show.

TIN TOY: I'm not sure why they call this a premiere -- I've seen it in at
least one other animation collection. Excellent, nonetheless, and even on
its third viewing, it gets its fair share of laughs. Great credits, BTW.

25 WAYS TO QUIT SMOKING: Bill Plympton used to do some fairly bizarre
cartoons for various weekly papers (still does, for all I know); they were
good but not great. About three years ago, he started doing animated films;
they started out at the level of his cartoons, and have done nothing but
improve. His latest work is absolutely his best, and is basically an
absurdist instructional video on getting people to quit smoking. There is
some really zany Monty Python-ish humor here, well done; a few slow points,
but Plympton's ability to twist normal looking characters into all sorts of
bizarre figures is amazing. They saved it for a strong finish, and it works.

MONDO VIDEO with Prof. Fred Hopkins:
"THE LAND BEFORE TIME (MCA). Warm, cuddly,
softly drawn dinosaurs romp through Steven
Spielburg's prehistoric fantasy. Don't you
wish we could revive Reptilicus or Varan the
Unbelievable? They'd kick some ass, you
Moriarty, aka Jeff Meyer
INTERNET: mori...@tc.fluke.COM
Manual UUCP: {uw-beaver, sun, hplsla, thebes, microsoft}!fluke!moriarty
CREDO: You gotta be Cruel to be Kind...
<*> DISCLAIMER: Do what you want with me, but leave my employers alone! <*>

0 new messages