Sunday, March 10, 2013

Singing Short Toons

     I would have loved to have gotten this up while the Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animated were still out in theaters but I believe that most of them can still be viewed online and they will be released as a DVD collection shortly.  They were simply too good not to devote a post to.  Since we know the winner already (and since I've already reviewed it), let's start with...

  Paperman - First, I'll reprint my original review (originally published with "If It Ain't Wrecked", attached to my Now In Theaters review for Wreck-It Ralph, posted January 22):
      A little bonus to the cinematic experience of Wreck-It Ralph is that it was preceded by Best Animated Short nominee Paperman, just like the cartoons that I VAGUELY remember them playing as lead-ins to movies when I was REALLY little.  This film utilized an innovative hybrid of animation techniques to create a look that was slick, wholly original, and slightly surreal.  Add to that a creative storyline with more clever bits and moments than seven minutes should be able to accommodate and I have to say that John Kahr's directorial debut is easily the best animated short I've seen since Logorama... 5 of 5 stars.
     I stand by the five star grade, but would like to add that the great thing about Paperman is that it is the first Disney production in years to recapture the flavor of delight that ran through the Disney feature films of the early-to-mid-twentieth century.  It was fully deserving of its win...5 of 5 stars.

  Adam and Dog - The debut film from director Minkyu Lee (who also works as an animator with Disney), this film is beautifully rendered and must be complemented for remaining tasteful while not presenting the residents of the Garden of Eden as odd, sexless neuters.  I loved this piece, but I'm not sure that it would tug at the heart strings of non-dog-lovers in quite the same manner...4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

  Fresh Guacamole - This is one of the shortest short films that I have ever seen at just two minutes in length.  As you might expect, this does not leave a lot of room for thematic or narrative development.  What it does contain is some of the cleverest, most creative animation that I have ever seen.  I'm not even sure how director PES managed to pull it off.  Watching Fresh Guacamole is like watching a REALLY good magic show, and is every bit as satisfying and refreshing as the name implies...4 1/2 of 5 stars.

  Head Over Heels - The only student film in the mix (by director Timothy Reckert), Head Over Heels is also the lengthiest animated short nominee this year at eleven minutes long.  It makes full use of its extended run time, however, to tell a complicated story about a husband and wife whose lives have become ruled by opposite gravitational poles.  Literally, she lives on the ceiling.  It is also a well thought out allegory about a couple whose lives have grown apart that want to learn to bring them back together again.  This is easily the most complex of these films in terms of story line, character development, and subtext.  It may have lacked some of the sheer charm of Paperman, but it was surely its strongest competitor for the win...5 out of 5 stars.

  Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare - I love the Simpsons.  I grew up on the Simpsons and it is still going strong after all these years.  However...while this short was the most classically structured piece for a theatrically released animated short, that was part of the problem.  It was everything that you would expect from a five minute Simpsons story about Maggie and her nemesis...and little else.  It was cleverly written and handily executed, but hardly innovative.  With such original competition, this left Maggie, for me, crawling along at the rear of this year's pack...4 out of 5 stars.

Related Articles:  If It Ain't Wrecked (Wreck-It Ralph review)

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