Mondo Plympton

on August 01, 2008 by Kim Williamson
   There are few animators whose work with animated shorts is strong enough to win them theatrical release. In fact, only two names come to mind: the master of the colored pencil, Bill Plympton, whose "The Tune" saw a limited run back in 1992; and the multi-Oscar-winning maestro of stop-motion, Nick Park. Aside from the difference in their art, the two are different in intent: Plympton makes animated shorts that entertain himself, whereas Park makes animated shorts that entertain audiences.
   Plympton's onscreen subjects are the likes of a man with nose hair extraordinaire ("Nosehair") or two men who beat each other's heads into varieties of pulps ("When Push Comes to Shove"); Park concentrates on the rueful antics of stiff-upper-lip Brit inventor Wallace and his resourceful dog Gromit. One filmmaker is dark, the other light, but it's more than that: Plympton fails to ground his malaise in any believable way, settling for the simple grossout; however comic, Park's work brims with human feeling.
   Sitting through "Mondo Plympton," an anthology of Plympton's work with a bit of biography added via voiceover by the artist, is an exercise in repetition. What works enjoyably for 10 or 20 minutes by the hour mark has become a new Excedrin headache number. Were there any greater meaning, say, to the menagerie of lip copulations a man and woman perform in "How to Kiss," such medication wouldn't be needed. As is, with his work seeming to be endless variations of visual themes that lead nowhere, Plympton's work recalls Shakespeare, but only for a quote: "sound and fury...signifying nothing."    Narrated, directed and produced by Bill Plympton. Written by Bill Plympton, Peter Vey and Maureen McElheron. A Cinema Village release. Anthology. Unrated. Running time: 80 min.
Tags: Narrated, directed, produced by Bill Plympton, Written by Bill Plympton, Peter Vey, Maureen McElheron, Cinema Village, Anthology

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