The Austin Chronicle

General Chaos: Uncensored Animation

Rated R, 85 min. Directed by Various.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 25, 1998

Manga Entertainment unleashes yet another animation barrage of questionable taste with this new entry in their ongoing General Chaos series, and while several of the featured shorts are scathingly absurd (and absurdly scathing), like most animated collections, it's a mixed bag overall. As is becoming the rule of thumb, cel animator Bill Plympton steals the show with a new collection of 10-second shorts revolving around the theme of “sex and violence.” Over the years, Plympton has made himself into one of the most instantly recognizable artists in the field, and his simple pen-and-ink and watercolor homages to the ridiculous have become staples of animation fests, and rightly so. This new grouping (wisely broken up and scattered throughout the 85-minute-long collection) is a tad more brutal than most Plympton fans may be used to, but the artist's sublimely goofy vision remains in typically gonzo form. If Plympton is the highlight here, then the computer-generated and live-action short, “American Flatulators,” is certainly the low, featuring as it does a pair of straining, gassy combatants battling for the World Cup of, well, flatulence. Don't say I didn't warn you. In between those two extremes Manga has culled a diverse sampling of styles and mentalities, ranging from Walter Santucci's “Attack of the Hungry Hungry Nipples,” which features some of the most inspired writing in the package. Imagine a Ren and Stimpy episode too mad for even old John Kricfalusi, replete with deranged, lactating nipples, an evil cat named Jean Jean, and a flying Richard Nixon baseball bat uttering a Samuel Jackson patois. Senseless fun for the whole family. Keith Alcorn's “Beat the Meatles” is an engagingly brief satire on the Liverpudlian songsmiths that goes just far enough with its onanistic gag. Next up, Laurence Arcadias offers up “Donor Party” with the help of his new animation software Inkwell (and some funding from Apple Computer's Advanced Technology Group). Relying on those old turn-of-the-century woodcut designs, it's Python-era Terry Gilliam taken to the next level, and while there's no real humor to speak of, it remains one of the collection's most memorable bits. The Obscure Idea Award goes to Mike Booth of Britain's Bolex Brothers, whose “The Saint Inspector” is a claymation fantasy involving the bureaucratic ministrations attended on a gargantuan, cloud-bound holy man. And speaking of Ren and Stimpy, that show's former principal animator, Mr. Lawrence, dishes up a doozy of a short, “Looks Can Kill,” which finally confirms my worst theories regarding the inner machinations of topless dancers. Taken together, and with the 10-odd other shorts included in the program, it's a goony, sometimes grotty, peek into contemporary animation. Now where's that Plympton feature, already?

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