THE WORLD OF COMEDY FILM FESTIVAL Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
The World Of Comedy Film Festival is now in its fourth year, and - no disrespect to the organizers - I'm still not sure why it's around. Comedy's not exactly an ignored genre that needs a festival to promote it.
Of the dozen shorts I pre-screened from the fest's various programs, one or two stand out, most are moderately entertaining and a couple are just awful.
The bad ones suffer from one-joke premises. In Being Steven Spielberg, an Italian-American aspiring screenwriter pretends to be Jewish to break into Hollywood. Roll out the cultural clichés. You can see the stupid ending of Dating, about a Neve Campbell-obsessed barista, one minute into its 12-minute run time.
The silliness of Live At Five, a parody of news anchor shows, wears thin after the 12th time we hear the phrase "This just in..." Small World is a tasteless, mean-spirited trifle that should have remained a "Guy walks into a bar" verbal joke.
Most of the not-bad shorts end weakly. Lemmings is a fine animated film inspired by the myth that every four years millions of the Arctic rodents kill themselves. The old-fashioned animation is terrific, and the script initially plumbs some darkly funny material before the film loses focus. Ditto for Fumi And The Badluck Foot, a nicely animated flick with a children's-book feel about a girl with an accident-prone left foot; the conclusion feels like an afterthought.
Surly Squirrel is a wickedly imaginative animated film that juxtaposes two heists: one involving animals, the other humans. The plot is amusing and the execution first-rate; my only problem is that the cartoon protagonists don't really look like a squirrel or a rat. In the clever mock doc My Brother, My Record, two brothers try to set a world record by breaking the most world records ever. It has some great visual gags, and the charming, deadpan performances are refreshingly unselfconscious. It doesn't need to be longer or shorter.
The same goes for Jellybaby, a film about an Irish first-time father who, because of his wailing baby, feels like he's the oldest 22-year-old in the world. When he meets an identical-looking infant who's placid, guess what he does? This is dark humour at its best, full of tension, genuine laughs and surprises. (Through March 12 at various locations)