The Twenty-Fourth International Tournee of Animation
Directed by Various.
A very, very solid compilation of 14 animated shorts from around the world. The Tournee seemed to be losing steam these past few years, with substandard material creeping in left and right (that first Beavis and Butt-head -- “Frog Baseball” -- offering a few years back appeared to be a fluke, and then look what happened), but this 24th edition starts out strong and never lets up. The best shorts here are humorously grim, with Paul Berry's “The Sandman” heading up the lot. Berry was head puppeteer on Tim Burton's “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “The Sandman” resembles that film in more ways than one, from its creepy, ultimately horrifying take on the old children's yarn, to its similar (identical, really) animation style and soundtrack. Matching that, but slightly less grim, is Gahan Wilson's “Diner,” a macabre, futuristic tale of an evil restaurant and the young man sent to inspect it. Wilson has been the heir-apparent to Charles Addams since the Sixties, and it's about time that someone got around to animating some of his genuinely outre work. (Colossal) Pictures weighs in with the multi-styled animated video for George Thorogood's recent single “Get a Haircut,” and stop-motion wunderkind Phil Tippett (who helped animate last summer's dino-fest Jurassic Park) is represented by a snippet from his wonderful “Prehistoric Beast,” a loving tribute to field pioneers like Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen that pits a T-Rex against a Stegosaur in -- where else? -- a Jurassic swamp. Will Vinton Studios (unfortunately responsible for those cloying, annoying California Raisins) is given a nearly-half hour “tribute” representing both the cream of the commercial crop (Domino Pizza's Noid also puts in an appearance) as well as a few non-television oriented pieces. There's hardly a weak bit in the lineup (well, maybe one), and that's good news for animation fans. Now let's see what Spike and Mike do about this in their fest.
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