1992 Directed by Bill Plympton.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 27, 1992
If nothing else, we can thank MTV for bringing Bill Plympton's outrageous “Plymptoons” series to the twentysomethings of the world. His 15-60-second dollops of water-colored insanity have become a staple of the network and are frequently the best thing to be found amidst the musical clutter. With The Tune, Plympton has expanded his format and entered the cutthroat arena of animated features, with surprisingly excellent results. The Tune's focal point, Del, is a love-struck would-be songwriter who suddenly finds himself in the awkward position of having to come up with a bona fide smash hit within 47 minutes, or else (his lyrics so far -- “My love for you is like a gob of goo...a cow that goes `moo'...a brand new shoe...” -- just don't seem to cut it). Reeling under the pressure and desperate to win the heart of Didi, his true love, our overworked hero hops in his car and drives off in search of inspiration. He finds himself, instead, in Flooby Nooby, a sort of Yellow Submarine-esque town populated by bluesey, noseless cabbies, crooning hound-dogs, and a mind-numbing wise man who's interminable drivel may remind you of some sort of Jerry Brown/Timothy Leary hybrid. Gradually, Del finds himself privy to the secrets of good songwriting (and how to make dogs larger or smaller), and he speeds back to save his career and the woman he loves. A couple of the 'toons here, “The Wiseman” and “Push Comes to Shove” may seem familiar to some -- they were released earlier as a means to garner funding for The Tune, but the rest of the film is purely original Plympton. As one of the most original animators working today, he manages to imbue this micro-epic with a quiet sensibility: it's hard not to use the word “sweet” when discussing the film. On the other hand, Plympton's well-known penchant for outlandish, Three Stooges-type slapstick is always wonderfully in the fore -- people's heads pop, mutate, revolve, their inner thoughts literally revealed in all their silly glory. Plympton's first feature is a surreal surety, chock full of brilliant gags, decent tunes, and lots of unobtrusive heart: it's 78 minutes of unrelenting fun.