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Film Review: Short Films Last Too Long To Stay Entertaining

Despite Stunning Graphics, ...The Animation Show 3... Sags Under Slow Plots

By Ray C. He

“The Animation Show 3”

Hosted by Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt

Somerville Theatre

Jan. 17-18

Eleven short films from various directors are featured on “The Animation Show 3.” Mike Judge of “Office Space” fame and Don Hertzfeldt, animator and narrator of “Rejected” (“My spoon is too big”) do the presenting. In addition, the show includes a number of student-created works from local groups, including the Harvard Visual Effects Studio, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Massachusetts College of Art. The show is running through March in various locations around the country, and it recently came to the Somerville Theatre in Boston.

A few of the animated films were pretty entertaining; so much so that I’d e-mail their links to my friends if I found them on the internet. The opening film, “Rabbit,” by Run Wrake, has a somewhat disturbing plot but was nevertheless memorable for its cut-out animation and twisted humor. “Guide Dog,” by Bill Plympton, is a chuckle-inducing five minute film about a little dog who fails to help three clients navigate the dangers of the real world. “Game Over” puts an interesting spin on fond memories of space invaders, asteroids, and Pac-man without being so long that it becomes boring — the running time is under two minutes.

Hertzfeldt’s “Everything Will be OK” has some pretty good one-liners, including jabs at human behavior, violence in the media, and medical incompetence. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t provide quite enough entertainment to fill its 17-minute length, and by the end, I was consumed with boredom.

The other films in “The Animation Show” are interesting in their various animation styles which ranged from morphing kaleidoscope art to sophisticated computer graphics. One such example is Joanna Quinn’s “Dreams and Desires,” which has a unique flowing sketch motif. The only problem is that the plot seemed tacked on at the end merely to show off the animation. Sadly, this was a flaw that persisted in many of the films. These films may have used extremely innovative techniques, but the techniques were only about as successful in making them good short films as the special effects were in making “Spawn” a good movie.

Taking all of the short films together as an 81-minute show, they were less entertaining, though containing more visually interesting animation, than the last 81 minutes worth of Strong Bad emails I watched.