A baker’s dozen of Bill Plympton’s best animated shorts

by Martin Hafer

I recently reviewed animator Bill Plympton’s latest full-length film, Cheatin’. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie with its wonderful story and Plymptonian style of animation (with wonderful colored pencil drawings), and gave it a very positive review. However, in addition to this and other full-length films, Plympton has also made a ton of wonderful short films, films that are very strange and you really need to see for yourself to grasp his wonderful style. The filmmaker made a ton of them and you could try watching them all yourself. But, to make your introduction into his shorts more productive, I’m giving you a list of what I consider his very best; ones that are simply hilarious. My descriptions are very brief because it’s nigh-on impossible to adequately describe them in detail.

Your Face (1987): This is a very simple and strange film. While the bizarre song Your Face is being sung, you see a person’s face contorting, changing and doing strange things in this surrealistic treat.

How to Kiss (1988): A how-to film about how to properly kiss and how NOT to properly kiss.

One of Those Days (1988)–This is simply my favorite Plympton film…period. A guy’s day starts off badly and keeps getting worse and worse.

25 Ways to Quit Smoking (1989)–Could have been entitled 25 Insane Ways to Quit Smoking!

Push Comes to Shove (1991)–Utter nonsense where a tiny push leads to a shove which leads to cannons in your face, and even worse!

Guard Dog (2004)–The first in his dog series, this guy imagines all sorts of dangers for his beloved master.

Guide Dog (2006)–The same dog returns. This time he is applying for a job as a guide dog for the blind and he goes through an amazing number of owners!

Hot Dog (2008)–This same bad luck dog returns. This time he’s working for the fire department.

Horn Dog (2009)–Our favorite dog returns!! This time he’s in love, but imagines all sorts of rivals and obstacles.

Guard Dog Global Jam (2011)–A remake of Guard Dog but done by dozens of artists instead of Plympton. A strange and wonderful homage to Plympton’s work.

The following three movies are a bit more adult-oriented than the others.

How to Make Love to a Woman (1996)–A few of Plympton’s shorts have naked drawings and are included on an appropriately named DVD, Bill’s Dirty Shorts. This sort of nudity and humor, I’d give a PG-13 or perhaps a mild R. Despite the title and a bit of nudity, this one is hilarious … and crazy!

Sex and Violence (1997)–The title pretty much says it all. Also included on Bill’s Dirty Shorts.

Santa the Fascist Years (2008)–Plympton’s darkest and possibly strangest shorts. I love it. Don’t let kids watch you watching this, as Santa is just plain evil!

If you would like to see more shorts being made you might want to visit Plympton’s kickstarter page for Revengeance. Nearly all of his shorts have been financed by fans in recent years and if you contribute, you could earn a variety of premiums…including, perhaps, some original artwork by the master animator or copies of his upcoming films. However, you have to do this soon, as the campaign is about to expire!