Posts Tagged ‘“Animal Behavior”’


 56 minutes | No MPAA rating

Traditionally animated shorts were aimed at the funny bone.

Mickey Mouse. Bugs Bunny. Tom & Jerry.

Well, that was then.  As this year’s slate of Oscar-nominated animated shorts makes clear, today’s animators are interested in big themes and deep emotions.

Only one of the nominees is overtly comical.  The others gravitate toward the arty end of the narrative spectrum, with a special emphasis on works that attempt to encompass an entire life (or a big chunk of one). (Remember the wedding album sequence that opened Pixar’s “Up”?  It’s the spiritual grandfather of many of these nominees.)

“ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR”  (Canada, 14 minutes) B

In Alison Snowden and David Fine’s savage spoof of psychiatry, a canine shrink convenes a group therapy session of diverse animals.

Among others, there’s a pig with an eating disorder and a leech with self-esteem problems. But things go really south when a new patient invades the room: a towering gorilla with anger issues.

The dialogue and voices are basically naturalistic; that it’s all being delivered through cartoon animals makes it truly bizarre.

Classic moment: Leonard, the doggy doctor, notices the discomfort in the room when a single-mom praying mantis laments the difficulty of finding a good male of her species. Adapting exactly the sort of diffident therapy-speak that pisses off so many of us, Leonard offers: “Clearly, sexual cannibalism is for some still a taboo.”

Tres droll.

BAO”  (USA, 8 minutes B

If you saw “Incredibles 2” last year you probably caught Domee Shi and Becky Neimann-Cobb’s “Bao,” which played before the feature.

A visually sophisticated (and wordless) valentine to maternal longing and generational conflict, the film centers on an Asian household — presumably Chinese — where the wife fantasizes that one of her hand-made stuffed dumplings is actually a baby.  So fertile is her imagination that she watches the little guy grow up, go to school, hit those difficult teenage years and eventually show up at the door with his new squeeze, a perky Anglo gal.

“Bao” takes a too-cute (borderline freakish) idea and turns it into emotional gold, especially with its universal theme of the young growing up and more-or-less abandoning their parents.

“LATE AFTERNOON” (Ireland, 10 minutes) B+ (more…)

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