The Austin Chronicle

The Fourth Animation Celebration

Directed by Various.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 27, 1992

This fourth animation celebration from Expanded Entertainment proves my long-standing theorem that an animated piece without a decent story to follow is little more than a novelty act: not so much funny as it is tedious, and not so much tedious as it is sleep-inducing. As a matter of fact, having received this one on a preview tape, I ended up fast-fowarding through more than a few of the weaker bits included in this relentlessly uninspiring collection. But perhaps I'm being too harsh. Two Oscar nominees are included here, “Blackfly,” another short song-inspired piece from the folks at Ontario Animation, and “Strings,” a rather longish and completely undeserving riff on god knows what. “Blackfly,” though, is by far the best of the lot, freely adapting the lyrics of an old Canadian folksong that follows the miseries of a group of dam-building surveyor/engineers as they lose themselves in the wilds of North Ontario's Blackfly-infested Northern Woods. This might remind you of the award-winning “The Cat Came Back,” another hilarious bit of Canadian animation that has been running sporadically on the Nickolodeon television network. Italy's answer to Walt Disney, Bruno Bozetto (Allegro Non Troppo) checks in with a breathy little short called “The Dance,” in which a fellow outsmarts the grim reaper via some chaotic dance lessons. Sort of. Although the film as a whole seeks to represent nearly every single type of animation, from computer-generated to stop-motion, far too many of the shorts presented here can hold your attention for their duration. Most are eminently forgettable, out of mind as soon as they are out of sight, which is too bad when you think about the amount of time it took most of these animators to come up with their finished products. It appears that Expanded Entertainment, long the front runners in the animation festival field, are losing out to young Californian turks Spike & Mike, whose All Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation played recently at the Dobie Theater (to capacity crowds, I might add). If I were you, I'd stick to Spike & Mike, too.

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