The Best of the International Tournee of Animation
Directed by Various.
Collecting together in one film the “best” of 25 years of festival animation is a risky proposition at best; at worst, you end up with a group of shorts everyone's seen before and never loved all that much in the first place. Like most animation festivals, this one falls somewhere in the middle, offering genuinely marvelous bits like the Laurenstein Brothers' Academy Award-winning “Balance” -- in which the themes of greed and retribution are played out in a surreal, otherworldly penal colony via stop-motion camera work -- and Pixar's brilliant and hilarious computer animation in “Tin Toy.” There are a number of clunkers here, to be sure (my friend excused himself in favor of a bit of lobby loitering during a few of them), but the Tournee manages to keep its collective heads above water by sheer virtue of pacing: if what you're watching now doesn't grab you by the throat and make you grin all over the place, then chances are the next film will. Gregory Grant's “Ode to G.I. Joe” is an affectionate look back at everyone's favorite war toy (and I'd forgotten just how many different models there were) that turns a young boy's bedroom into an officer's hall complete with an all singing, all dancing chorus line of Eagle Eyed, Kung Fu Gripped Joes. John Krikfalusi's Ren and Stimpy are here in “Big House Blues,” the first and one of the best of the now-famous pair's forays into complete and utter animated madness, and Cordell Barker's hilarious and very Canadian “The Cat Came Back” (frequently seen as filler on cable's Bravo network) is here as well. All in all, this Best Of the Fests compilation comes out as expected: a few greats, a few bombs, and a lot of decent animation.
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