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Spike and Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation - Unprotected!
2003 - Not Rated - Mins.
Director: Craig McCracken, Pete Metzger, Michael Comas
Review by: Greg Ursic
Once upon a time S&M - and if you take that the wrong way, then these are definitely the collaborators for you - discovered that there were some innovative artists producing way-out animation. However, due to the “fringe” (and that’s being polite) nature of their work, these iconoclasts rarely got the opportunity to show their stuff. S&M decided to give them their own festival, and it has drawn a loyal following for over thirteen years. And this year’s was one of the strongest contenders in a long time.

As with every year’s festival, part of the fun is not knowing exactly what you’re going to see, as there are always several last minute substitutions. You can also count on a couple of past favorites making guest appearances. This outing brings back Sittin Pretty, which fulfills both of the festival requirements with a careful blend of infanticide and cannibalism (I’ve always preferred the self-mutilation stylings of Lupo, everyone’s favorite butcher). The much more subdued, yet infinitely funnier “Billy’s Balloon” from perennial favorite Don Herzfeldt, features stick figures beset my rabid balloons – the foley work is both hilarious and darkly disturbing. “Beyond Grandpa” is a delightfully disturbing drama that features a septugenarian gentleman engaged in various activities, none of them wholesome. It will give you pause next time you see one of the raisin set walking down the street (almost as traumatizing as the time I overheard the elderly couple in a sex shop asking a clerk for very specific advice about several “special” toys…). But allay your fears, there are still warped minds out there ready to deliver a few yuks (and yucks).

First, I’ll dispense with the unpleasantries: Sickcom a supposed sitcom about a warped family was too short, too tame and plain boring. Joining the banality bandwagon is Mama I’m a Thug with an Eminem style homeboy who gets his comeuppance, only you don’t even get the satisfaction of seeing it – a few well placed whacks with a bat would have livened this up. Okay, now we can concentrate on the good stuff.

“Snowman”, a crisply rendered G-rated CGI short , follows the misguided exploits of a crew of miscreant aliens who aren’t exactly the brightest lasers in the lab that are bent on world domination. Peepshow is a humorous stop motion piece with a bouncy score, and amusing sound effects that follows a pair of bawdy bunnies (think Energizer) engaged in carnal acts Free Will Press Start is a charcoal skit that features the ultimate video game experience, only this time we’re the played and not the players. The darkly droll How to Cope with Death, features a golden ager whose not prepared to go gently into the light, an inspiration for us all. But as good as these are, they pale before the funniest of the fest.

Spoiler alert - in order to discuss this short I will be giving away some of the plot, so don’t say you haven’t been warned. Here Comes Doctor Tran is another CGI offering that looks more like traditional cell based animation. It features the kind of flashy title shots, and baritone voiceover normally reserved for Michael Bay style action-fests that feature spectacular pyrotechnics over plot. The main difference here is that the ultimate action star being hyped is actually a five year old boy who simply wants to be left alone to eat his breakfast. The clash between fantasy and reality (unlike a certain governor who was recently elected), includes a 3-D sequence and had me crying I was laughing so hard. The receptionist at S&M headquarters said that the Dr. Tran sequence has been hugely popular at every screening: many attendees have gone back for seconds (I will be joining them) and fans have been flocking to the website to find out when it will be released on DVD.

Though a tamer version that past previous years, this year’s S&M S&T has more than enough fresh and funny content to recommend it.

Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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