Monday, October 8, 2012

DVD Review: Adventures in Plymptoons!

First off, a big thank you goes to Cassie Brewer for sending me a review copy of "Adventures of Plymptoons"!

Every animator knows Bill Plympton, even if it's just a peripheral knowledge of his work. But I have to admit that I wasn't that familiar with his life and his journey to becoming one of the most famous independent animators. So watching this DVD was something I was looking forward to.

For a quick overview, here are the official details:

Cinema Libre Studio DVD release
- SRP: $19.95
- TRT: 85 Minutes
- Street Date: 9/25/12
- VOD platform also available

DVD Extras:

- Trailers
- Bill Plympton Day
- “The Toonist”
- Deleted Scenes

 ADVENTURES IN PLYMPTOONS! goes deep inside the method and madness of America’s most independent animator, creatively incubated in his hometown of Portland, Oregon.  Interviews with many of Plympton’s collaborators, such as Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob SquarePants), David Silverman (Director THE SIMPSONS MOVIE), Terry Gilliam (Writer, MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL), Martha Plimpton (THE GOOD WIFE), Matthew Modine (FULL METAL JACKET), Ed Begley, Jr., Peter Jason, Moby and Weird Al Yankovic, offer candid and comic insights into the irreverent man who has become an international success by not selling out.

Adventures in Plymptoons! A documentary on Bill Plympton trailer from Alexia Anastasio on Vimeo.


And here my thoughts on the DVD:

The DVD comes in a standard case with no booklet inside (which could just be the review copy and not what you get when you order it), but it's a fun cover and the backside has all the necessary information on it.


Once you start watching the disc you're being greeted with the familiar warning screen regarding illegal distribution, which then leads into a selection of trailers:

- No subtitles necessary: Laszlo Vilmos
- trailer montage for The Films of Jean Jacques Beineix
- Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies

The good thing is you can skip all of it and go straight to the animated menu which is presented in widescreen with "The Face" music looped over it. The main menu has the following options:

- play - scene selections - extras - also from cinema libre studio

 Also from Cinema Libre Studio:
- here you can watch the trailers in case you skipped them at the beginning

- Adventures in Plymptoons! Trailer
- Bill Plympton Day
- Make Toons That Sell
- Cheatin'
- The Toonist

 If you use the right arrow on your DVD remote, you get a hidden item in form of a pencil, after Cheatin':

"Annie Sprinkle "The Pencil Test"" (1m50s) 

- the video quality is average, but I did learn something new. The pencil test refers to the method of measuring breast sizes with pencils. The person demonstrating the test has her generous breasts fully exposed, so this would warrant a NSFW viewing.

Scene selections:
- standard option with animated chapter boxes

- says it all

Technical stats:
(review hardware: Samsung Blu-ray player BD-D5500 and 46" Samsung HDTV)

The main documentary clocks in at 1h25m10s and is presented in widescreen with 2CH Dolby Digital sound, but unfortunately there are no subtitles available, which is a glaring omission. The live-action footage quality is average, with the animated content looking a tad better. Picture quality improved when I was watching it on m PC due to the smaller screen, but just as a test I also watched it on an OPPO Blu-ray player (BDP-83) through a Panasonic projector (PT-AE3000U), and as expected, I wouldn't recommend it, but let's not forget that it is not a Blu-ray. The picture quality did not diminish my viewing experience, as I was more interested in the content as opposed to the presentation.

The documentary itself:

The content is presented by interviewing directors, actors, childhood friends, his sister, brother, Ron Jeremy (with a profession accurate interview setting...), ex girlfriend, film critics, animators, etc. etc. The variety of people makes for an interesting range of topics, from childhood stories of how he grew up, to school andarmy experiences, his first jobs, the Oscar nomination, first feature and so on.
I thought it was very cool to see the singer of "The Face", which was actually a woman (Maureen McElheron) who played the piano as well.
There are title cards between topics and once you get to "How to take criticism", you're introduced to W. P. Murton, who looks like a fake critic, with a weird beard, talking how animation should be like Disney and who drinks wine at the end. I have a strong suspicion that it was Plympton dressed up. :)
Btw. his "Acid Rain" for MTV is awesome. I was hoping to see the inclusion of more of his shorts, like "The Face", if not during the documentary, then at least in the Extras section, but unfortunately that's not the case. The DVD is not a collection of his shorts, it's purely about Bill Plymptoon.


About the Extras:

Bill Plympton Day (17m41s)
- explains who's behind the creation of that day and the efforts of making the first full length documentary on Bill Plympton
- presented on stage, in Q&A form (without the Qs) and ends up being a bit dry

Make Toons that sell (2m08s)
- it's a pitch of his book; flips through it for sneak peak, which is nice

 Cheatin' (2m41s)
- talking about "Cheatin'", content and how long it's been in production

The Toonist (5m02s)
- funny live action short with Winsor McKay (it will make sense when you watch it), Bill Plympton and Gus Van Sant about The Flying House


All in all the documentary was entertaining and for people who are not that familiar with Bill Plympton a good insight into his journey as an independent animator. The extras are fun but it would have been great to include more of his work.

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