This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
animaldoctor’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
The only reason I decided to check this film out at all was because of this video-- www.youtube.com/watch?v=APwyKS9dRk4-- that mentioned that this short was actually nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. This film... was nominated... for an Academy Award. I immediately had to check this film out, and to be completely honest, if there were any short on the Internet with this kind of humor in it that should be nominated for an Academy Award, I am so glad it's this one. This might just be the weirdest Academy Award nomination in history. It's essentially a viral YouTube video, except it went viral before YouTube was even a thing. As John Green mentioned in the video I linked to above, if this film is somehow able to qualify for an Academy Award, then there are a lot of other YouTube clips that should at least be considered for nomination. Hell, I'll even tie this back around to the Netflix argument and say that if this short film got nominated, Netflix films should be considered as well. Then again, this film was actually shown in various American theaters between 2000 and 2002, so I guess this does still qualify under Academy rules. It's just such a strange nomination choice, but I am certainly not complaining because the execution of this short is genius.
Be prepared, this short is not for the squeamish. It's random, it's gory, it's confusing, it at first seems like it has absolutely no point, but for some reason, I was busting with laughter after the first cartoon was finished playing. There's just something about the idea of this short film that is just so cool to watch-- the idea of this mentally unstable cartoonist that pitches all of these terribly disturbing cartoons to various ad agencies thinking they are actually acceptable for the companies he's trying to advertise for. In that way, I actually think the excessive bloody violence in this cartoon is actually important to the story. It's important for the comedy to work so that the segue from the incredibly disturbing footage to the message that this is intended to be an advertisement for a children's channel is made as funny as possible. It's weird to me that despite the fact that this video is just random gory humor, for the most part, there is still an underlying story in this video that all of that humor and gore serves. I never thought I would see a short that was this over-the-top and not think the violence was unnecessary, but here we are.
In terms of flaws, the only major one I can think of is the ending. Now, the ending sequence is incredibly well put together, well animated (just like this entire short, to be honest), and creative. However, I'm not really sure how the cartoonist losing his mind causes the destruction of his entire world. Unless the cartoonist was (in real life) crumpling up his older cartoons, there is no way that the older cartoons would start falling apart. Even if his newer cartoons had no structure to speak of, his older cartoons would still stay the same. They would still have the same structure. The only conclusion I can draw from that is that he crumpled up his original works as well. Honestly, the editing supports that theory, but I'm not sure if it executed it well enough. Yes, I'm analyzing the ending of a random LOLZ animated cartoon. You know why? Because it was nominated for an ACADEMY AWARD!! Clearly, someone took this thing seriously.
However, aside from the ending not QUITE being executed as well as it could have, everything else about this cartoon is really, really good. The violence feels like just the right amount necessary to sell the black comedy (although it's still definitely very over the top), the animation is still fairly fluid today, and the comedy is on-point. Seriously, the minor details of some of the cartoon mouths not syncing up properly just demonstrates that Don Hertzfeld knew what he was doing when he made this. I refused to watch Rejected for the longest time, I think because before I truly got into the art of filmmaking, I was terrified of anything having to do with violence. My 12-year-old self would not have been able to tolerate this. My 17-year-old self, however, thinks this is an incredibly executed short film that deserves its classic viral status. Watch it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7JyjZI3LUM if you want to relive your memories of how the Internet used to be or if you've never seen this short before. I think you'll have a good time.
Letter Grade: A