Adventures in Plymptoons
Featuring Terry Gilliam, Ralph Bakshi, Bill Plympton
Directed by Alexia Anastasio
Before I being this review. I think it’s only fair for me to share one of Mr. Plympton’s shorts so you can get an idea of his basic style. I shouldn’t haft to, but I have the feeling that a few of you may not know who I’m speaking about. Bill Plympton is an animator whose style is one of a kind and completely original. I was going to post the one that got him the Oscar nomination, but instead I’m going with the one I first saw on MTV’s Liquid Television(They need to bring that show back. Seriously)
The only thing I knew about this guy was the various shorts I saw. One would assume based solely on his work. That he did a lot of drugs and found fame in animation because other youngsters(including myself) found some great joy in his obscure view of the world. Well that analogy couldn’t be further from the truth. Well not the drug issue he did try acid once, but hey so did I and I don’t consider myself an addict. Bill Plympton was very much a go getter from the very start and never seemed to let anything hold him back. In the documentary he states the reason why he lasted so long was because he never stopped drawing. He goes on to say that he has met other artists who were way more talented then him. But they did not keep at it. That is a good analogy of the dreams we all wish to achieve. You haft to keep gong at it and never stop.
For a guy that makes a lot of strange cartoons. The man himself is actually quite normal. He had a very average upbringing, and the path to his success as an animator is nothing too unusual. Well I guess you could call his first job of drawing covers for an adult magazine as being odd, but I’m pretty sure that’s how Walt Disney got started. He entered his work in various festivals and became somewhat of a cult status. His name really became big when he was nominated for an Oscar in 1987 for his short “Your Face“(click link to see the video). Well big in fact that now more people have heard of his name.
The documentary features interviews with his family, friends and other celebrities who knew about him. However a neat twist on the interview with the celebrities is that they don’t give a response like you would think. Ed Begley Jr. thinks the documentary is about someone else and Terry Gilliam just wants to be paid. I’m sure they were in on the joke, but this form of loathing about Bill Plympton seems to match the same style of humor in his cartoons. It also help creates a different tone instead of the usual talking heads route we are so used to in other documentaries. The only flaw of this entire feature is that there is very little conflict. The only real barriers that face Mr. Plympton are the critics who don’t like his work and there is really no way around that. The one guy who does speaks ill about him shouldn’t even be called a critic because he has a very limited range of animated movies to compare from. Not every animated feature has to be like Disney.
Speaking of Disney. A fun fact I learned from watching this film was that Bill was offered a job at the House of Mouse, but turned it down. He says that if he did. He would not be able to create his own content.. I think that’s an incredibly brave thing to do. It would be so easy to just go the easy route and take the paycheck. But Mr. Plympton has more drive and gumption then most and it’s the reason he is one of the most well respected animators out there today. Director Alexia Anastasio has created a fascinating portrait of an artist whom we know very little about and now that we do. He’s not that different from you or I. So what’s holding you back?