adventures in Plymptoons
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When it comes to independent animators, Bill Plympton is the undisputed king. His illustrations have been featured in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Penthouse, and National Lampoon. Since 1981, when his political cartoon Plymptoons was syndicated nationally, he has become a major force and inspiration in the animation world. His work is recognized instantly: he's the guy behind the animated morphing heads, which became famous on MTV, as well as the opening credit sequence for “The Simpsons.” Moving into motion pictures, Plympton earned two Academy Award® nominations, has directed and animated over sixty animation shorts, live action features, music videos, commercials and documentaries including: “One of Those Days,” “How To Kiss,” “25 Ways to Quit Smoking,” “Plymptoons,” “The Tune,” and “Mutant Aliens.” He’s the only artist who has animated six feature length films …all by himself. Adventures in Plymptoons! goes deep inside the method and madness of America’s most independent animator, creatively incubated in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. Interviews with many of Plympton’s collaborators, such as Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob SquarePants), David Silverman (Director “The Simpsons Movie”), Terry Gilliam (Writer, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”), Martha Plimpton (“The Good Wife”), Matthew Modine (“Full Metal Jacket”), Ed Begley, Jr., Peter Jason, Moby and “Weird Al” Yankovic, offer candid and comic insights into the irreverent man who has become an international success by not selling out.
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Top Customer Reviews
Director Anastasio takes a jokey tone, as if trying to find the documentary equivalent of Plympton's unique, absurdist style. Right up top, Terry Gilliam pronounces very seriously he's only doing an interview about Plympton to get paid, and Ed Begley Jr. deadpans that he thought he was there to do an interview about Bill Clinton, not Bill Plympton, and gets up to leave. That sort of sets the tone as the film becomes various short, often funny pieces about Plympton's history, philosophy, art and humor.
We only see short bits and pieces of Plympton's work, which can be frustrating, and might make the uninitiated wonder what the fuss is about. To me, Plympton's cartoons are often about nothing as much as the build. The slow repeating of variations on a joke until the very repetition is part of what make it so funny. That's hard to capture in an 85 minute documentary.
Plympton himself comes off as an extremely likable, eccentric character, who seems to have inspired a lot of friendship and good-humored admiration from the many worked with him or befriended him. And there a lot of fun moments here, along with some interesting stories about his life and work. I just wish it felt a little bit less like a celebrity tribute show/comedy roast, and more an exploration of an artist's work.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A must see!
Like any good documentary, though, Adventures in Plymptoons does not necessarily require a particular interest in the the exact subject matter it covers. The filmmaker has crafted this film to show a man's journey from young doodler to accomplished - but always unconventional - craftsman. Background, character, choices, collaborators...the stories behind all the facets of Plympton's career combine to form a film story that flows seamlessly and never leaves you bored.