Judge Dan Mancini's facial features move willy-nilly about his head.
"I'm an independent animator. I live here in New York City and I make films that are not for children. I make them for adults."—Bill Plympton
In an interview on this disc, Bill Plympton relates how Disney once offered him $1 million to animate the genie in Aladdin. In perusing the lengthy contract, Plympton discovered that Disney would own any independent side projects he worked during the time he was under their employ. Heck, they'd even own any ideas he came up with. Plympton politely declined the offer. The thing I most admire about Bill Plympton is that he's a fiercely independent artist who feels no need to run others down in order to bolster his bona fides as an independent. He harbors no ill-will toward the House of Mouse, doesn't mind that that's the way they choose to do business (in fact, Walt Disney is one of his heroes); he merely recognized that he wouldn't be a good fit for the organization. So he passed up a huge heap of cash and went on doing what he'd been doing for just over five years at that point: making incredibly funny independently produced animated shorts. And he's been doing just that ever since.
Plympton burst onto the scene with the 1987 release of his bizarre, Oscar-nominated short, "Your Face." The cartoon features a static medium shot of a (somewhat) realistically rendered middle-aged, mustached white guy singing a song while his head twists and distorts in all sorts of surreal ways. It's quintessential Plympton in that it has a hand-drawn look that emphasizes pencil lines and shading, and it offers up somewhat disturbing absurdist humor that relies on the extreme plasticity of form that only animation can deliver. Plympton is an animator's animator not only because his drawings are magnificent (and magnificently weird), but because he plays the medium for all that it is worth—Plympton's odd and hilarious vision of reality can only be expressed via animation.
Bill Plympton's Dog Days: A Collection of Short Films 2004-2008 collects the seven short films the animator produced during that four-year span (amazing output considering he does it all himself). They are:
• "Guard Dog" (2004) (5:00)
• "Guide Dog" (2006) (5:15)
• "Hot Dog" (2008) (6:00)
• "The Fan and the Flower" (2005) (7:10)
• "Shuteye Hotel" (2007) (7:00)
• "Santa, the Fascist Years" (2008) (3:30)
• "Spiral" (2005) (6:00)
In addition to the seven shorts, the disc contains a "Commissioned Films" option on the main menu that leads to a sizable collection of music videos, commercials, trailers, and other commissioned works by Plympton. They are:
• "Heard 'Em Say" (Kanye West music video) (3:20)
All of the shorts are presented in full frame except for "Shuteye Hotel," which is offered up in 1.78:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. The transfers present Plympton's idiosyncratic work in style. Detail is as sharp as the source allows. The image isn't marred by digital artifacts of any kind.
As if the shorts and commissioned pieces weren't enough, the disc also houses a few interesting extras. Plympton provides commentary on each of the seven shorts. There is a pencil test for "Don't Download this Song," storyboards for "Mexican Standoff," and animatics for the United Airlines TV commercial. There's a trailer for Plympton's film, Idiots and Angels. "Art or Something like It" is a 22-minute interview with Plympton that covers all of the highlights of his career.
Fans of Plympton will be pleased with the heaping helping of high-quality independent animation on this disc.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2009 Dan Mancini; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.