Shorts For Shorties: Into (And Out Of) This World!

Shorts For Shorties: Into (And Out Of) This World!
From rambunctious soccer balls to runaway hotdogs to gangsta rappin’ aboriginals, the Shorts For Shorties program offers up some great animation and Judeo-Christian-inspired ethical standards for future generations of automatons to aspire to. The films that are supplied with the least amount of heavy-handed didactics tend to work the best, aside from one that features a dog who befriends his own butt.

Beginning, ending and dividing the program are three shorts from the Wallace & Gromit team about Shaun the Sheep, another plasticine animation creation that explores the problems involved with using glue, eating too quickly and snoring. They’re entertaining and amusing, if slight and run-of-the-mill, but should succeed in pleasing many.

Jungle Beat 2 preaches the dangers of personal vanity with impressive delineation but also manages to be somewhat creepy and upsetting. Crank Balls is also somewhat disturbing, with Play-Doh balls that go a little cuckoo after some colour is introduced into their black and white world. At least happiness in this short is equated with ignorance and insanity.

Animatou is the most innovative and interesting of the group, moving from doodles to cartoons to claymation to computer animation in order to tell the story of a typical cat and mouse doodle. This one, however, may be appreciated more by parents than children.

World in your Hands and Emission Admission are both relatively forgettable, with dirty balls and environmental garble, but lead into the extremely comical Aboriginal, which is about a young boy who learns more of his culture after watching Grandmaster Burning Bush bust out some rhymes on the telly. It’s just a shame that it didn’t intend to be funny.

A city kid climbs a tree in Treeclimber, while stop-motion shoes find love in Sole Mates (how punny) and a bear chases a runaway hotdog in Hold the Mustard. None of these leave a lasting impact but are all well made and inoffensive. Also somewhat innocuous is Rebel, a short film about a sassy musical note that defies expectations and marches to the beat of his own drum. It’s light and fun, with a little bit of anti-authoritarian zest to boot.

After watching a dog befriend its own hiney in My Happy End, a young man learns to make loud people disappear at the library in Shhh...The latter short succeeds to greater effect with superior animation and story. Both, however, are far more interesting than Back in ’93, which was also included in the Canadian Comedy Shorts program.

Fans of animation will find some impressive work in Shorts for Shorties, despite some occasionally weak and unoriginal entries. Children will be bored by some of the films but the programmers have done a good job with juxtaposing the whimsical and mundane for pacing.