Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation 2002
2002, NR Directed by Various.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Jan. 25, 2002
Come on, fellatio jokes are funny. Admit it. I did. I'd managed to avoid the Sick & Twisted festival -- an offshoot of Spike & Mike's more tasteful Festival of Classic Animation -- for the past 13 years the traveling show has been in operation. Albeit, I've only been legal for the past five, but in all actuality, the “sick and twisted” antics here probably appeal to that under-18 part of all of us: some crudely drawn sex organs, bathroom humor, fellatio funny stuff aplenty. That part isn't particularly shocking -- if the show's moniker didn't already spell it out for you, the hosts, who come equipped with inflatable penises, warn you pre-show what lies beneath. The real surprise of the show is how pop-culture prescient the films are. Like a preemptive mea culpa, the Sick & Twisted tag lets the animators cut through the bullshit straight to the social commentary, with funny, audacious takes on heterosexual coupling, drink, domesticity, and natural order. A fair number of the 20-some shorts on display here are South Park-derivative, “talking-head” style animation, like Heavy.com's hilarious VH1 spoof “Behind the Music That Sucks” or Howie Hoffman's “Bad Phone Sex” (taken from a Chris Rock skit). But what the animation lacks, the narrative picks up in spades with its sly, irreverent take. Not that some of the animation isn't top-notch. The festival debuts Bill Plympton's latest, the positively seductive “Eat,” a piece about sad-sack fantasy, the married doldrums, an haute-cuisine outfit, and projectile vomiting. Also new is Spumco's delightful “Fuck Her Gently,” a sort of primer course for gents on how to woo their ladies right, as sung by Tenacious D. The fest pulls out old favorites too, like the short, sorry travails of No Neck Joe and Don Hertzfeldt's charming “Ah L'Amour!” and his wickedly comic “Rejected,” a mock omnibus of shorts supposedly commissioned, then rejected by the Family Learning Channel and Johnson & Mills that disintegrates into mayhem, bloodshed, and existential upheaval. Sure, there are the toss-offs, too, the purely poor-taste offerings that add up to little more than a one-note punchline (“Love That Pussy”) … but even those'll seem like half-cocked genius with a full pitcher under your belt. Hit or miss, yes, but it'd be a damn shame to miss the hits. Some fellatio jokes are here to stay.