Beautifully Surreal

by Martin Hafer

A few years ago, my oldest daughter invited me to go along with her to New York ComicCon. When I learned that Bill Plympton was going to be there, I jumped at the chance of meeting him as I’ve been a major fan for a number of years. The filmmaker not only chatted with me, but I got a couple nice autographed drawings.

I love his one-of-a-kind hand-drawn animation technique, and after all, in this age of CGI, you normally don’t expect to see an entire animation drawn in colored pencil. Yet one can immediately see how advantageous this is for the viewer. The hand-drawn characters have a unique, almost tactile elegance to them, and this style serves Plympton well.

Written & Directed by
Bill Plympton
Release Date
3 April 2015
Martin’s Grade: A

The greatly admired bizarre and quirky sense-of-humor Plympton demonstrates in his short films, such as Guide Dog, Hot Dog and One of Those Days, make his animations something one does not, indeed cannot, quickly forget, thanks to the impact his body of work has on his many fans.

Unlike Plympton’s amusing short films, Cheatin’ is an amazingly surreal, and occasionally, absurd sort of love story. To understand, you just have to see it for yourself to get the full effect.  His characters have no dialogue and it’s amazing how much feeling and depth they actually convey through the use of only grunts, sighs and moans.  And, speaking of moans, this love story is for adults only.  There is nudity, a decent amount of sex and a plot that isn’t the best thing for younger audience members to watch.

The bottom line is that even if you have seen Plympton’s past work, you may be taken totally by surprise by Cheatin’. I certainly was.  Cheatin’ is incredibly artistic, and the music serves to underline the mood changes in this dialogue-free animation. As well as being a sentimental, and at times, moving film, it’s also hilarious.  It’s a strange confection…but one I would like to see more of from the Plymptoons folk–especially because it is so unlike what we’ve come to expect when we think of animations. It’s more a full sensory experience watching Plympton’s latest effort.

Highly Recommended.

Cheatin’ debuts in theaters on April 3rd, and will be released on the internet through Vimeo on Demand on April 21st. Available here.

Cheatin – Trailer from Bill Plympton on Vimeo.