The Animation Show 4 (The Animation Show, NR)

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animation2.jpgGranted, some of these shorts are funny, like the first Psychotown short, “Oranges,” (Psychotown is a series of shorts of which there are a few in this year’s Show), but they quickly become tiresome.








Since its inception in 2004, Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt’s The Animation Show has been one of the last safe havens for people seeking out great animated shorts. About your only other options to see films such as these are either at film festivals, the touring program of the animated shorts that were nominated for the Academy Award that year, or in the Spike & Mike Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation. What was especially nice about The Animation Show was its standard of quality but otherwise lack of theme—it didn’t matter what country it was from, if it was dirty or family-oriented, if it were computer animated or traditional, or whatever; so long as it was good, The Animation Show would include it.

This year’s installment, The Animation Show 4, is a disappointment right from the start, though that isn’t really anybody’s fault. This is the first one that co-organizer Don Hertzfeldt hasn’t had a hand in programming (Mike Judge, of Beavis and Butt-head and Office Space fame, took the reins solo this time), and what’s worse, his work in progress, a follow-up to last year’s Animation Show inclusion Everything Will Be OK (which is probably the best work he’s done in his very incredible and consistently amazing young career), is not ready yet, so it is lacking from The Animation Show 4.

What’s worse is that AS4 starts off bad—almost all of the first hour or so’s shorts are poorly animated and needlessly dirty, like Judge is trying to turn AS into a Spike & Mike knockoff. Granted, some of these shorts are funny, like the first Psychotown short, “Oranges,” (Psychotown is a series of shorts of which there are a few in this year’s Show), but they quickly become tiresome. This isn’t even to mention another series that gets a lot of play here, Corky Quackenbush’s “Yompi, the Crotch-Biting Sloup,” which is pretty much exactly the same every time, and is only marginally funny the first time.

However, the last third or so of the program returns to the quality of previous programs, with a strong offering from Show regulars PES called “Western Spaghetti” (which was commissioned by the program), as well as an inventively animated piece called “Raymond” by BIF Productions, as well as a really short one called “LOVESPORT: Paint Balling” by a guy named Grant Orchard. Overall, this last half hour makes The Animation Show 4 worth seeing, but lets hope that next year has some stronger offerings. | Pete Timmermann  

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