Cheatin Review

cheatin10A few days ago I posted my belief that “whether 2D, 3D, stop motion or live action it all comes down to the story“.  I genuinely believe that to be true for 99% of films but like any rule there are exceptions. Some films are obviously an excuse  for art and the story takes a back seat.  Usually to work these types of films have to give us something new.  They have to be over-the-top and challenge us artistically otherwise the movie doesn’t work.  Fantasia, for instance, gave us something new.  Something that has never been topped artistically to date. Another example, last years Rocks in My Pockets did have a disturbing and profound story but it still took a back seat to the imagery presented.

This years Cheatin’ is another example of such an artistically bold film. It is not a film for everyone.  It is challenging and like most new things a little tough to digest but I’m glad I saw it.

Created by animator Bill Plympton, Cheatin’ tells the story of a beautiful woman named Ella who is tired of superficial men. To her chagrin she gets wrangled into attending a carnival when she wants to just read her book.

cheatin21Eventually she is convinced to ride the bumper cars but there is an accident and she is trapped. Fortunately, she is rescued by a jock type named Jake and they instantly fall in love.  None of this is done through any real dialogue but through music, opera, grunts, screams, yells, sighs and other expressions.

cheatin19The artistry throughout is just beautiful.  I mean look at this shot.

cheatin18So they get married and Jake is completely loyal to Ella.  However, a woman who is in love with him stages a photo to make it look like Ella isn’t faithful to him.  This breaks Jake’s heart.

cheatin16With his broken heart he falls prey to temptation and becomes a serial adulterer.  These scenes are fairly graphic for an animated movie.  But they are so non-realistic that I wasn’t really offended but I can see that others would be.  The music is amazing throughout in mixing opera, jazz and the score by Nicole Renaud.

Meanwhile Ella is devastated at her husbands cheatin ways and fantasizes what she wants to do to him.

cheatin14In her remorse she stumbles upon a magician who has a special machine that will allow her to enter the bodies of the women her husband is seducing.

cheatin11The magician knows this is a mistake but she sneaks in and does it anyway.

cheatin13Eventually Jake realizes the photo was a phony and that he was wrong about Ella but it is too late? We don’t know.

cheatin15Cheatin has an interesting back story.  Bill Plympton raised over 100k on Kickstarter to make the movie and backers received the film in August of last year.  This is why it was submitted to the Academy and Annies for 2014. (I guess that means it is out of the running for 2015?).

All the animation was drawn by Plympton himself which is kind of amazing (40,000 drawings all done by him!).  What an artist! A staff of 10 people then did the colorization and compositing.  It’s hard to believe so few people and such a tiny budget could make a film like this.

If 2D proponents are looking for signs of hope the Cheatin’ Kickstarter success and the quality of this movie should give it to them.  Hullabaloo animated project got over 400k in only 1 month of fundraising with a goal of 80k so there’s that as well.  Not half bad!

But back to the movie.  It is challenging.  It is different but I like films like that.  The story isn’t much but it is audacious and bold enough in the visuals to not need it.

I think if you watch the trailer and it looks like you’d hate it you probably will.  If it looks like the type of art you like and something interesting then give it a shot.  You’d be supporting a small animator trying to do something in a big pond. I was more than happy to throw $10 his way to buy it on demand. $4.99 to rent.

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/cheatin

Overall Grade- B+, Content Grade- C

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Annie Award Nominees

Today the Annie Award Nominees were released.  These awards celebrate the best in animated films.  I still say this has been an amazing year for animation.  It’s certainly been one of my favorites that’s for sure. I have seen all of the nominees but 2- Song of the Sea comes out Dec 19th, and I will hopefully see it, and Cheatin I must admit I hadn’t heard of but it looks awesome.

Cheatin trailer (this is clearly an animated feature for adults but I’m ok with that.  In fact, sometimes I prefer they go all adult instead of trying to make it appeal to kids and adults (ala Hunchback):

Anyway, the nominees are:

Big Hero 6,

The Lego Movie,

How To Train Your Dragon 2,

The Boxtrolls,

Book Of Life,

Cheatin’,

Song Of The Sea (here’s Song of the Sea trailer if you haven’t seen it yet. It looks amazing)

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya.

What an impressive list.  I LOVED Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2 (even more than original), Lego Movie, Boxtrolls and Kaguya (gave A’s to all 5 of those!).  Book of Life I really liked despite some problems (got a B). They are all so different it is tough to compare.  But again what a great year especially when you consider no Pixar and some highly entertaining films didn’t even make the list (Mr Peabody and Sherman and Penguins of Madagascar were really fun comedies).

Well, what would you pick to win?  I’d be happy with any of them winning but if I had to pick I’d go with The Lego Movie.  I know all of you weren’t as crazy about it as I was but this is my blog and my opinion so for me it was the most creative, visually inventive, had heart, showed how kids play, their randomness and fun, and it made me laugh a lot.  But I was really moved and dazzled by Big Hero 6 also, so I would love to see it win.  Same with Kaguya, which was so beautiful, and The Boxtrolls, which had a great look, and a story that makes kids (and me!)  think while charming them.  How to Train Your Dragon was an epic adventure and dazzled me from beginning to end.  Plus, I loved the flying sequences.

But push come to shove I would still pick Lego Movie.  What was your favorite? (And remember there are no wrong answers it’s just an opinion)