DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
Published on April 12, 2006
Animation Shorts by Bill Plympton
Studio: IndieDVD 00129
Video: 4:3 full screen color
Audio: PCM mono
Extras: Introduction by Bill and Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Films, Early footage of and by Bill Plympton, Commentary tracks by Bill Plympton, Two featurettes, incl. Plympton interviewed by Screw Magazine’s Al Goldstein
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: **** (best shorts) * (worst shorts)
As a former struggling independent filmmaker what I like best about Bill Plympton is his doing his own thing and successfully fending off Hollywood’s money and glamour. The animator still draws all the separate frames of the major characters in his films himself. And for his features such as Mutant Aliens and Hair High that means 30,000 or more separate drawings even though Bill definitely doesn’t go for the single-framing smoothness of Disney animators. Drawing directly on paper with colored pencils, Plympton doesn’t worry much about smudges or dirt on some of the sheets. His animation is often so outrageous the viewer doesn’t notice the little niceties. No Pixar-style computer animation here!
It was his l987 Your Face that got Plympton’s “morphing style” of animation a wide audience. That classic as well as the equally successful How to Kiss, and 25 Ways to Quit Smoking are all on this DVD. Those three are probably his winner shorts. Some of the other material on the disc is pretty rough, including early unfinished animation and live action. (Not to boast, my “Yes We Have No Bananas” of 1967 is much more watchable than Plympton’s “Lucas, The Ear of Corn” of 1968!) MTV and Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation helped Plympton gain a huge fanbase among the youth. Some of his black humor and violence is quite funny, while some seems in poor taste – i.e.: his “Last Views” (a turkey in an open oven is labeled Sylvia Plath). Plympton is based in New York City and finds the variety of people and their relationships with one another there perfect fodder for his twisted humor. He seems to have a thing about characters losing their heads. Literally. He has a webcam set up so fans can watch him at work on the Net.
- John Sunier