Published May 31, 2010It's rare for a program of shorts to be comprised entirely of must-see fare, typically having one or two duds thrown into the mixt, but this year's Celebrity Shorts offering has only titles that range from good to great. And while the occasional celebrity is thrown into the mix, unlike the batch of shorts from last year, which featured directorial debuts from folks like Natalie Portman and Joseph Gordon Levitt, these are more about story than celebrity.
Things open up with a brief nod to Hollywood, with the gorgeously shot Caretaker 3D, starring Dick van Dyke, quickly shifting to quirky narrative with the Anders Thomas Jensen penned The New Tenants. Featuring a despondent Vincent D'Onofrio and a stoned Liane Balaban, this strange and amusing story of new surroundings inflicts a series of oddball characters on a couple trying to settle into their new apartment. Having won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short, this story of deadly heroin dealings and eating cinnamon buns out of provocative orifices proves wildly entertaining.
On the more dramatic front, The Summer House mirrors a young girl's struggle with love and the 1969 moon landing, while One Night Only tells a tale of relationship variance and deep emotional wounds. Featuring Kristen Wiig and Garret Dillahunt, the latter short captures the awkwardness of couples dating, with people left out of the conversation and male competition getting out of control. It's surprisingly insightful and moving.
On the hilarious front are the Drunk History shorts, which, having made the internet rounds already, find the funny in people recounting historical events while drunk out of their minds. While the story of Tesla and Edison with Crispin Glover and John C. Reilly gets a little grotesque, with a mid-story projectile barf, the tale of Douglass and Lincoln with Will Ferrell, Don Cheadle and Zooey Deschanel is easily the funniest thing in the entire festival.
Wrapping things up nicely is a title with curious, but intriguing, animation and puppetry, Higglety Pigglety Pop, featuring the voice work of Meryl Streep, Spike Jonze and Forest Whitaker. Based on the Maurice Sendak book of the same name, it details a terrier named Jenny's quest for life experience with a hungry lion, a sly cat and a whimsical French maid. It's dark, yet wholesome and uniquely ponderous, much like one might expect from a project involving both Streep and Jonze.