Time for S&M With Spike and Mike

Hey, kids! Can you guess what time it is? That's right: it's toon-time! Time to join the wacky bunch of characters in Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation! Join such goofy characters as Radioactive Crotch Man and his squad of Erect Nipple Man, Coma Man and Old Man Man as they battle the forces of the evil Butt Pirate! See how Coko the Junkie Pimp relearns the art of slapping hos after a bout of amnesia! Or find out the true Christmas story in Pussy da Red Nosed Reindeer! Don't wait; start begging your parents now...

Yep, Spike and Mike's Animation Festival is back at Coolidge Theater, and the features above are some of its more wholesome. Boasting Claymation, computer graphics, flipbook-like pencil drawings and a kind of "Lego-mation," S&M's festival certainly covers all grounds of animation. Each short film, ranging from one minute to nine-and-a-half minutes, features stories either too short to be made into its own movie or program or too offensive or to be in any form other than animation.

Of course, that is the beauty of animation: almost nobody takes it seriously. "Cartoons" are inherently childish, frivolous; people seem to search instinctively for their humor. If an audience were to see a child beating a defenseless live monkey within an inch of its life for a good laugh, irate callers would instantly be on the phone with PETA. However, when the poor creature is no more than a figure created with a computer drawing program (as it is in the short "Stinky Monkey"), the animal abuse is nothing less than hilarious. Spike and Mike have capitalized on this tendency to dismiss animation as frivolous to show cartoons that, if seriously considered, would deeply offend. For instance, the masturbation scene in "Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in the World" contains a shot that an audience might find funny in a live action movie if it weren't so completely politically incorrect. But due to the fact that the protagonist is no more than a Lego man, the material doesn't seem so bad-you see him caressing his funny little Lego "love wand" instead of (thank goodness) a real one-and the laugh factor doubles. Thus, while this is inappropriate, it doesn't seem unacceptable. I cannot, however, vouch in the same way for the content of "Deep Sympathy," with its tagline "Necrophelia means never having to say you're sorry."

As immature as many of the films sound (the festival, not surprisingly, is vehemently endorsed by Korn), much of the humor can be rather clever. And Mike did manage to sneak in some sequences that could even be considered-gasp-tasteful. In "Rejected," you view animated commercials made for the Family Learning Channel that, for obvious reasons, were turned down: "The Ghost of Stephen Foster" displays crisp animation (with Squirrel Nut Zippers music) pleasantly reminiscent of the 1930s, and Pixar's "For the Birds" shows off computer animation at its best.

But the good taste ends there. Just as you begin to think that the festival isn't really that sick, on comes a "Birth of Abomination" flick in which a buck-toothed, blue-haired individual named Motormouth swallows the newborn infant of a prostitute, leaving the umbilical cord dangling from his mouth like a string of spaghetti. And then comes the "Sloaches(tm) Fun House." I'm not even getting into the "Sloaches(tm) Fun House"-The Crimson, after all, is a family paper.

What are you waiting for, kids? Only at Spike and Mike's can you see zany misadventures of silly Mr. Motormouth or the heartwarming exploits of Wheelchair Rebecca! So come join the fun and learn about the wonders of our bodies through some Claymation, or how to be an "Angry Kid" and annoy your parents on long car rides. Be sure not to miss out on the singing penis-the mouth is animated, but everything else...