WHAT TO SAY about this collection of 20-plus animated shorts without sounding like a member of the Christian Coalition or the festival publicist? It's disgusting? Juvenile? Offensive and devoid of any redeeming social value? Naturally, we expect all this. What we don't expect is to be mildly entertained, or worse—bored.
SPIKE & MIKE'S SICK & TWISTED FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION
runs April 7-20 at Varsity
This year's lineup of Sick & Twisted shorts offers the usual offenses: Swing Sluts is back with a fresh batch of labiatic close-ups, while Beyond Grandpa II offers another chance to take a shot at grandpa's fading manhood and shaggy scrotum. For those in a quandary over whether to consume barbiturates or opiates at the next family function, Home, Honey, I'm Higher may be moderately instructive (though probably redundant for most festival regulars). Other memorable films include 1999 Slamdance winner Billy's Balloon, which lends a dark twist to a boy and his toy, as well as the teen experimentation parody, The Beckers: Cannibalism and Your Teen.
Yet if you're looking for the next South Park (or even Beavis and Butthead), you'll be sadly disappointed. Most of the shorts mow across the same patch of cut grass, causing us to wonder if the festival shouldn't start providing pillows instead of the traditional promotional barf bags. The most clich餠of the clich餬 Legend of Raggot, plays on the tired 1985 myth involving Richard Gere and a gerbil, while the more technically adroit films (Bowlin' Fer Souls, Horned Gramma), offer glimpses of the animators' mastery of computer software but little else.
In an attempt to liven things up, the festival has brought back Quiet, Please, the offensive little ditty that launched the Sick & Twisted series 10 years ago. This short about a man who pisses on a dead baby before stuffing it back up its mother's womb still packs a decent punch, but it also points to why Spike & Mike is starting to look old hat. Namely, after a decade of this repetitive stuff, what's left but jaded indifference? Is it even possible to be shocked by animated vaginas swallowing men whole when we can see real ones shaved, pierced, and penetrated by small farm animals on the Internet? With reality becoming more sick and twisted than anything animators could possibly devise, fantasy is left with the unenviable job of catching up. It's an ever-escalating cycle of one-upmanship that's starting to look pretty sick and tired.