Bill's Dirty Shorts: A Collection of Bill Plympton's Newest Naughty Shorts
Microcinema // Unrated // $24.95 // August 29, 2006
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 6, 2006
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The Shorts:

Bill Plympton is one of the funniest independent animators working today. He shorts are the highlight of many animation festivals and short compilations. His surrealistic bizarre humor fits well with his rough yet pleasing animation style. He is best known for his award winning shorts especially Your Face, 25 Ways Stop Smoking, How to Kiss, and the decidedly bizarre One of Those Days. This talented animator has just released his third compilation DVD, aptly entitled Bill's Dirty Shorts. These films are of a more adult nature, some depicting graphic sex and cartoon like violence and aren't for children. That doesn't mean that they aren't funny however. This set contains some twisted and outrageously funny shorts.

The main feature of this disc are the nine animated shorts running nearly an hour in length and presented in chronological order. Wildly inventive and surrealistic in nature, anything goes in these cartoons. Car airbags that inflate into naked female blow-up dolls (which causes a rash of not so accidental accidents), and alarm clocks drop vicious snakes on sleepers in Plympton's world. Surprise Cinema involves a cruel game show where the host replaces a toilet with a live alligator and a man's electric razor with a chainsaw, and Can't Drag Race with Jesus is a wonderfully irreverent music video. Parking features a knock-down, drag-out fight between a parking lot attendant and a blade of grass that really wants to grow through the asphalt.

The funniest short in this collection is Helter Shelter, a pilot for a show that was never picked up unfortunately. This parody of Friends is a untypical sitcom that features three totally different people living together. In this episode Driscoll accidently gets his head cut off right before a big date. Not wanting the evening to be ruined, the April and Seth sew Driscoll's head onto the body of the chicken he was going to cook for dinner. Will the date notice? What happens when his headless body wanders back into the house? Which one will the date prefer??? A wonderfully warped show that has the potential to be as big as South Park but was never shown on the air.

In addition to the shorts, there are 5 minutes worth of commercials Bill did for companies like AT&T and Geico. These, while not as violent or raunchy as the other work on this disc, are pretty funny, especially for TV ads.

The volume wraps up with 22 minutes worth of Flash animations. While these are funny, the lack the charm and warmth of Bill's hand-drawn animations. They look flat and rather dull, which zaps some of the humor. It was nice to see these, but I don't think they have the replay value of his other works.

All together this is a funny collection. If you've enjoyed Plympton's other work, this disc won't let you down.

The DVD:


These shorts come with an English stereo audio track. The sound isn't the greatest, it is a bit on the flat side and not as vibrant as I would have liked, but it does the job well enough.


The quality if the full frame color image isn't spectacular. (There are a couple of shorts that are widescreen, but these are not anamorphically enhanced.) There are some spots and print defects as well as a few rare tape dropouts. The image is a bit soft too, but not overly so. The colors are not as strong as they could be, but this could be the way Plympton meant for the cartoons to look.

While most of the shorts look film one of them is pretty bad. Helter Shelter was the worst of the bunch, having a lot of mosquito noise, color bleeding, aliasing and other image defects that weren't intended by the animator. I'm not sure why this short had so many prevalent defects, it looks like it has gone through digital processing a few too many times. Whatever the reason it was a rather poor reproduction of a very funny short.


Though it's not accessible from any of the menus on the disc (why??) there is an audio commentary, accessable from the audio options button on the DVD remote, over the entire disc provided by Bill Plympton. This was interesting, he explains what he was trying to do with the shorts and how he came up with the ideas. A bit dry at times it is still worth listening to.

Final Thoughts:

I have enjoyed all Bill Plympton's work that I've seen, and this disc is no exception. Bizarre, off the wall, irreverent, surrealistic, and odd, these shorts are also very funny. It's too bad that the video transfer and audio are only average, but that shouldn't stop anyone from enjoying these wonderfully comic and twisted shorts. A very strong recommendation.

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