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Saturday, November 12, 2011

IDIOTS AND ANGELS (2008)

Bill Plympton’s distinctive artisanal style of hand-drawn animation is well-suited to this fable on man’s infinite capacity to ignore his own best instincts, his ‘better angels;’ even when they’re as plain as the nose on his face . . . or a set of wings growing out of his back. There’s no dialogue, but grunts & groans tell us all we need to know about the grumpy gun dealer who sells illegal weapons at a dive bar where a small but loyal group of oddball losers congregate. They each have their ‘pipe dreams,’ visualized for us as if Eugene O’Neill had written a pantomime, but then reality brings them back to their drab lives. And that’s when the unwanted wings start to sprout. Fought against, then fought for and fought over (some of the action is pretty grotesque), they annihilate everyone’s plans and turn inertia into ambition before blowing up in everyone’s face. It’s a wild, exhilarating, anarchistic ride. Plympton is especially gifted in clever visual transitions & substitutions, though, on the down side, his storyline & visuals can turn repetitive. But adventurous types won’t want to miss this. At its best, it’s a considerable achievement from an artsy animator best known for one-reel absurdities. NOTE: This feature-length cartoon is not for the kiddies! On the other hand, your teenage son just might flip over it.

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