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Sick and Twisted

At the Coolidge Corner Theater Through September 20


What does an animator do with their work when it uses but one feature, repulsiveness? Why, hand it over to Spike and Mike, of course. Unfortunately, a lot of this year's new batch takes the Sick and Twisted spirit of openness-which embraces the offbeat or dark humor that's the real highlight to each festival-and misses the point.

Basically, barring a couple of dead-on newbies, the best of this year's festival are the oldies-but-goodies: the endless, playfully mean riffs of "No Neck Joe"; the pitiful, worst-nightmare explorations of the body's connective tissue in "Lloyd's Lunchbox"; and the masterpiece of comic timing, "Dirdy Birdy." These shorts endure and generate fresh laughs with every viewing just like any sturdy, well engineered joke or skit.

The good new ones include two great punch line shorts, "Sea Slugs!" and "Yes, Timmy, There is a Santa Claus." (The latter, like others in the show, may be familiar to many viewers, despite the "premiere" labeling.) "Fast Driver" parodies "Speed Racer" with results hysterical even for those unfamiliar with the original show's idiotic plotting, redundant dialogue and silly visual effects (here, the usual overhead view of a speedway's race line-up before start includes eight or nine bona fide cars, an airplane and an enormous spermatozoa). "Fast Driver" covers the anime-parody territory far better than "Booby Trap."

Fans of Comedy Central can delight in yet another unfortunate death for parkaboy Kenny in "The Spirit of Christmas," surely the highlight of the festival and somewhat of a heavyweight amongst its cruder cousins.

The rest should be history on some cutting room floor. Sadly, the likes of "Sloaches Fun House" and "Barflies" made it somehow, stunning in just how uninteresting and blandly, almost methodically offensive they are. "Devil Went Down to Georgia" features bad music; "Illusion of Life" never delivers; "Little Rude Riding Hood" could plausibly belong in the so-bad-it's-good bin.

Don't bother with this year's festival if you've seen it before or unless you like "South Park." If you're a diehard fan, I can't stop you but, damn it, I tried.

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