Spike and Mike’s Classic Festival of Animation

Spike and Mike is a collection of short animated films, ranging from two to seven minutes each. Some are cute, some are beautifully drawn, and some are neither. The entire show takes around an hour and a half and it feels like less. Still, it’s hard to stay awake through everything – after all, there are no stories or characters, just animated snippets that are fun to watch, but not particularly involving.

There are several standouts: American Don Hertzfeldt’s Billy’s Balloon, in which a toy balloon decides to seriously abuse the unfortunate child who is holding it; the beautifully drawn The Queen’s Monastery (Emma Calder, director), from England, a five and a half minute feast of intriguingly blended water color and animation; and the classic Bambi Meets Godzilla, (Marv Newland, Canada), whose title says it all. There is also Son of Bambi Meets Godzilla, which is a rematch between the new and improved Godzilla and our cute little Bambi. The rematch begins with the score Godzilla 1, Bambi 0. At the end Bambi still has 0.

Also included are two Academy Award winners, Balance (1989), and Tightrope (1998). In Germany’s Balance (Christophe and Wolfgang Lauenstein), five people on a floating platform must constantly change their positions each time anyone moves. In the end selfishness decrees there will be only one person left. Tightrope (Daniel Robichaud, USA) is a rather cumbersome morality play about two people approaching each other on a tightrope, one wearing a business suit, one the costume of a jester. The animation is intriguing, but there are several other selections this reviewer found superior.

There is one really dumb selection as well. Peter Reynolds’ The Blue Shoe (USA), in which one shoe doesn’t realize the other shoe is her sole-mate, stands alone in vapidity.

All in all, if you like cartoons you will enjoy the creativity of these animators. If you are looking for intriguing entertainment, lightweight and escapist, but also artsy and without any formulas, by all means check out Spike and Mike.

– DAK