Spike & Mike's Cutting Edge Classics

I miss the days when "Spike & Mike's Animation Festival" (and the "Sick and Twisted" collection) would make annual appearances in town. There's nothing quite like watching weird shorts in a theatre full of drunken people. Today, for the most part, we must be satisfied with internet downloads and DVD collections. That means a much smaller group of drunks but as long as "Spike & Mike" are still compiling the shorts, there will be plenty to enjoy. Their latest Cutting Edge Classics collection is a perfect example. There are the thoroughly enjoyable "what the fuck?" selections, such as The Maakies, which is fabulous and weird (and probably familiar to Saturday Night Live viewers) and The Pigeon and the Onion Pie, a film that makes no sense whatsoever and you couldn't care less. There are a few silly and off-kilter ones like Cane Toad and Iddy Biddy Beat Boy (a short I've seen about a dozen times and still enjoy). And then there are the truly cutting edge ones — like Brother and One Day a Man Bought a House — that mix exquisite and oddball animation with well-written, touching scripts. There are only a few duds in the collection (I'm not sure how they even qualify as "cutting edge"). The Snowman is an average bumbling alien joke (although the animation is quite good), Stubble Trouble is little more than an excerpt from the comic strip BC, Ropedancers is a game of optical illusions that goes on for far too long and Drink only makes you wish a Bill Plympton short was included. The only extra included is a sneak peek at the next collection (which would technically be an advertisement rather than an extra). Not terribly interesting but it's at least comforting to know that "Spike & Mike" will continue to find the strange and unusual. (Shout Factory, www.shoutfactory.com)