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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt present The Animation Show: Volume 3
Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt present The Animation Show: Volume 3
Paramount // Unrated // June 3, 2008
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Kauffman | posted May 31, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
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The Movie:
Lo and behold, maybe I'm not the hopelessly over the hill fuddy duddy my kids often proclaim me to be. I got my review copy of The Animation Show Volume 3 not expecting much, knowing only that the MTV backed anthology series had played, in it various installments, at art houses throughout the years here in Portland where I live. After having seen the 17 shorts presented in this volume, I can now say I am an Animation Show acolyte and will be seeking out the first two volumes as soon as possible. Overseen by gurus Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill) and Don Hertzfeldt (the Oscar nominated Rejected), The Animation Show has been one of the more successful potpourris of recent festival history, and Volume 3 shows why in a dazzling display of styles and subject matters that will alternately stun and delight most viewers in equal measure.

I don't want to visit each of the 17 shorts here in depth for the simple reason that coming to some of these cold, as I did, will be your best introduction to some truly impressive young filmmakers. However, after a short introduction by Beavis and Butthead themselves, there is everything here from motion capture ("Abigail") to some great stop action ("Collision" and "Game Over") to more traditional cel animation (two delightful Bill Plympton pieces, "Guide Dog" and "Shuteye Hotel") to CGI ("Astronauts") to some really inventive melding of various animation techniques (chief among them the stunning "City Paradise"). Likewise you also get fairly linear, and often very funny, features that play like slightly whacked out versions of the cartoons we grew up with playing next to stream of subconciousness efforts that seem to have sprung up directly from proto-Freudian depths. "Versus," a visually (and actually philosophically) inventive little piece about two armies warring over a spike of rock in the middle of the ocean, reminded me very much of a modernized Looney Tune Road Runner piece, with one delicious contraption-themed gag after another. "Astronauts" also had some beautifully dry humor in its depiction of two space travelers stuck in a tiny ship that's running out of oxygen, capped by a killer (literally) final joke. But even the non-linear, more bizarre offerings have moments of outright hilarity. There's nothing like seeing a plane going down in flames with the passengers singing a hearty "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," as you do early in "Abigail," to bring a smile to your lips.

While some of the shorts are, as may be expected, less successful than others (I personally found "Tyger," supposedly based on William Blake's famous poem, to be less than thrilling, despite some nice visuals), there is such a surfeit of amazing material here that I doubt very many viewers will not find several things to love. Therefore, you get things like the frankly out there ambience of "Rabbit," which combines "Dick and Jane" childhood book visuals (complete with printed labels for all objects, just so you know what they are) mixed with a completely outré storyline of some kind of miniature idol sprung to life after it is freed from a dead animal (I told you it was outré) playing out right next to features like "Dreams and Desires," a very funny (if at times too scatological) depiction of an elderly lower class British woman whose new minicam has changed her life and made her into something of an auteur.

Most of these features were done by either European or UK filmmakers, and at least one ("No Room for Gerald") is in a foreign language (this time German) with subtitles. However most of the features play brilliantly with little or no dialogue and prove that the art of animation is continuing to be expertly exploited by a new generation of creators who are not afraid to push the medium's boundaries, either stylistically or in subject matter.

The DVD

Video:
The bulk of these shorts are in full frame transfers. A handful are in unenhanced 1.78:1 ratios, and it actually looked to me like "City of Paradise" really should have been anamorphically stretched, though it played in Academy ratio. All of the features are pristine, with excellent color (when they're in color) and beautiful detail.

Sound:
A surprisingly robust soundtrack makes excellent use of the full range of frequencies, with some absolutely vibrational lows in some features, and with excellent separation and fidelity throughout all of them.

Extras:
There are three short featurettes, two offering interviews with various animators, but the best showing the animatics of "Abigail" in a split-screen four panel display that's quite fascinating. There's also a preview to MTV's "The Maxx" and a DVD-ROM presentation of text versions of the filmmaker interviews.

Final Thoughts:
The Animation Show has a new fan in me. With a wildly inventive variety of styles and equally varied subject matters, there's something here for nearly everyone, and then some. Highly recommended. (Heh-heh, I said "high").

____________________________________________
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet

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