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Reruns

The best pieces in 'Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation' are the repeats

By Richard von Busack

IT MAY BE ABOUT time to make this a once-every-two-years series, since the 2001 edition of Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation looks a lot like floor sweepings. Many reruns are added to flesh out a 90-minute show, including a Betty Boop cartoon, carelessly blown up from 16 mm. The low point is a rerunning of a number of "No Point Joe"--excuse me, "No Neck Joe"--cartoons, revived from the oldies pile by virtue of animator Craig McCracken's breakthrough hit with the Powerpuff Girls. These 6-year-old cartoons demonstrate the animator's skills at capturing the colors, angles and dismayingly static look of ultracheap early-1960s television. And as in the bad old days, McCracken stretches out the same gag over and over again. Here's Joe--he has no neck! And here he is again--he still has no neck!

By contrast, "Harry Pothead and the Magical Herb" by Los Primos Productions is a million-dollar idea. In carrying it out, however, the Primos went lazy and just told the story in one set: a kitchen, where a mom reads from the latest Harry Pothead as her kids get high. It's illustrated radio: cartooning for the blind. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine cartooning more primitive--and yet effective--than "Of Mice and Men and Mama Cass" by Cody Critchloe. A hell-rant about someone blameless (poor dead Mama Cass Elliott) is the essence of animation, the only art in which a bullying streak is helpful. As my friend Michelle used to say, "If only Karen Carpenter had eaten that turkey sandwich instead of Mama Cass, both of them would be alive today."

Among the repeats--and easily the two highlights of the show--are Christopher Simon's crayon/watercolor cartoon "Hello, Dad, I'm in Jail," based on Was (Not Was)' harrowing song of the same title. Don Hertzfeldt's opus "Rejected" was rightfully nominated for an Oscar last year and unrightfully robbed. It's angry piece, showing the frustration of an artist trying to do the work of an honest hack and failing, awkwardly, hideously, in a manner guaranteed to terrorize the children he's supposed to beguile.

Heavy.com's "Behind the Music That Sucks" entries feature two rather good attacks on Miss Britney and Mr. Slim Shady. The latter was better animated and far better at exploiting a performer's public image. Spears' breasts are funny, I reckon, but not nearly as funny as Eminem's "But seriously folks, I love my kid" proclamations, that are supposed to make up for his usual dick-wielding.

The opener here is a short home movie of an apparently baked Craig "Spike" Decker puttering around Pacific Beach in San Diego. Decker's in a nostalgic marijuana haze, visiting his old and soon to be demolished house ("Tim Burton was here ... and Mike Judge"). Decker deserves a little praise: he and his late partner, Mike Gribble, were patrons for most of today's important animators when they were on their way up. That's why he owes it to his audience to be a little more selective when he's choosing cartoons for these festivals.


Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation (Unrated; 90 min.), a cartoon compilation, opens Friday at the Towne Theater in San Jose.

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From the November 29-December 5, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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