Bill Plympton sculpts mesmerizing animation out of caricature. Though he works with just basic drawing materials, he transcends those limitations by imbuing everything he makes with offbeat charm, evident in works such as his Oscar-winning 1987 short Your Face. The Criterion Channel has a collection of 22 of Plympton’s shorts and features which is expiring at the end of this month. Here are some highlights of the program to check out before it leaves the platform.
A ridiculous war of romance and heartbreak, this movie follows Ella and Jake, an utterly devoted couple who turn on one another after a series of misunderstandings. This Kickstarter-funded feature casts a gimlet eye on monogamy and relationships, with some sci-fi twists thrown in for good measure.
25 Ways to Quit Smoking (1989
This early short is essentially an excuse for Plympton to showcase the breadth of his imagination and ability. Each suggestion for quitting smoking is more absurd than the last, and more entertainingly rendered as well.
The Tune (1992)
Plympton’s first feature synthesizes ideas from his earlier shorts for an extended parody of old-fashioned animated movie musicals and kids films, following a songwriter whose quest for the “perfect” ditty brings him to the bizarre town of “Flooby Nooby.” It’s a loosely structured excuse for Plympton to do whatever comes to mind, and a constant treat as a result.