The Animation Show 4

For parents, an alternative to Kung Fu Panda.

In its fourth year, this traveling festival of short animated films is now minus one of its original curators—stick-figure wizard Don Hertzfeldt has declared his “retirement,” though he has urged fans to keep supporting the show. Perhaps as a direct result of leaving Mike Judge in sole control, the program this year is almost entirely comedic in nature—Hertzfeldt had more of an existential side—with the only major exception being the Swiss director Georges Schwizgebel’s Jeu, an M.C. Escher–like collage of interlocking images that pull out to reveal larger patterns. Titles like Angry Unpaid Hooker and Yompi the Crotch-Biting Sloup speak for themselves, and will likely elicit their fair share of “huh-huhs.” Fortunately, we also get more elaborate slapstick in Smith & Foulkes’ This Way Up, in which a pair of unlucky undertakers chase after a coffin that keeps eluding them by quirks of fate and timing. Soccer-playing insects, voodoo idols, crazy Russian bunnies driving cars, and a polar bear in love with a penguin are among the other highlights; only Trevor Jimenez’ Key Lime Pie, a film-noir spoof about dessert addiction, doesn’t quite work as a story, though the animation is still cool. Bill Plympton also has a new short, and if that doesn’t excite you, you haven’t been paying attention. Go watch more cartoons.