For the first time in the history of “Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation,” one of the featured shorts goes a bit too far.
And anyone familiar with this festival, which is making its way to Phoenix this weekend courtesy of FilmBar, knows that is quite an obscene accomplishment. Otherwise, as usual, the good segments are downright dynamite and the bad ones are absolutely abysmal, balancing everything out in the end.
PES’s “Western Spaghetti,” in which everyday objects become delicious ingredients in a recipe for spaghetti through stop-motion photography, is far and above anything else shown during this year’s festival. It is the work of sheer genius, bringing imagination to life via Rubik’s Cubes, pin cushions and candy corn.
On the other hand, it is neither sick nor twisted. Having said that, Penelope Gazin’s “Tiny Hats” best represents the festival’s theme. In this extraordinarily memorable – not to mention creative – short, which utilizes a musical mix of traditionally hand-drawn and stop-motion animation, a young girl places her emotions on the line for a chance at love.
Other examples of greatness include House of Chai’s series of ridiculously funny vignettes “Stoopid Movie,” R Thies’s crowd-pleasing parody “The Toke Before Christmas” and new installments of the always reliable “Dr. Tran,” “Maakies” and “Happy Tree Friends.” Takena Nagao’s claymation masterpiece “Chainsaw Maid” is a worthy honorable mention.
Of course, there are a few shorts that are not deserving of a place in this year’s festival, including Miguel Otalora’s pointless exercise in violence “The Bet,” Tonni Kristensen’s uninspired “Stop MotherF***er” and John Goras’s just-plain-crude “Chirpy.” Although, Adam Ansorge’s “Tittybop” – which is pretty much just a simple GIF – make the rest look like Oscar contenders.
And then there are the shorts that fall somewhere in between, such as Brad Neely’s catchy-yet-simple “Cox and Combs’s Washington,” Arthur Metcalf’s cute-yet-overplayed “Fantaisie in Bubblewrap” and Max Winston’s well-made-yet-sacrilegious “I Love in the Woods.”
As for the short that tips the scales of indecency, that would be Mike Geiger’s “Cuddle Sticks,” a story about a boy and the curiousness of his favorite treat. The animation is reminiscent of Craig McCracken’s “The Powerpuff Girls” but the humor shows an extreme lack of taste – pun intended.
But things like that are exactly the reason why “Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation” is worth seeing on an annual basis. And this year is certainly no exception. Whether the thing that reels you in is the possibility of discovering the next animating genius or sheer shock value, one thing is for sure: This show entertains like nothing else you will see on the big screen.
“Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation” (NR – 85 minutes) opens Thursday, March 24 exclusively at FilmBar. Visit NCM.com for specific showtimes.
Listen to Joseph J. Airdo’s “Movie Maverick” segment every Friday morning during “The Daily Blender with Jeffry O’Brien,” 6-9 a.m. weekdays on NBC 1260 AM and 96.1 FM.