Two very bored shadowy characters try to think of something to do--and end up playing "Shadow Puppets."

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Storyline

Two bored animated cutouts sit at a table. One is enthusiastic, suggesting things to do: check the TV, see if something's on the radio (five versions of La Cucaracha), play chess. Nothing works to relieve the boredom, including a ring of the door bell. So the enthusiastic one suggests shadow puppets, except that he's not very good, and worse, when his morose partner proves to be a brilliant puppeteer, the bubbly character hasn't a clue to what he's seeing. An argument ensues, ended by the sound of the door bell again. Who could it be? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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shadow | independent film | See All (2) »


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October 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monotonía  »

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Edited into Spike & Mike's Classic Festival of Animation 1999 (1999) See more »

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So much more than just a shadow
21 May 2004 | by (East Anglia, UK) – See all my reviews

'Humdrum', spurned out by a UK animation studio more famous for its stop-motion work, is a creative and offbeat little animated film that delivers pure unadulterated entertainment in all seven minutes of its running time.

As with most Aardman films, the definite appeal lies in their ability to take such strikingly simple concepts, attach a slight twist and turn it into something which is utterly compelling in its own unique way. In this case, we have two shadow puppets (both with Scottish accents) making shadow puppets of their own in an effort to while away a particularly dreary afternoon, one them growing increasingly irate in the process. A concept which in itself is both unsettling and hilarious. The action is all rendered by projecting shadows onto a grainy backdrop (fittingly reflective of the film's somewhat uncertain atmosphere); I had my doubts as to just how well this work in practice, but the two central characters themselves are surprisingly vivid and expressive, and in no way restrained by this technique. In spite of its somewhat freaky premise, it remains light-hearted and pleasing throughout, the humour being quirky, wry and neatly character-driven. The brace of voice-overs from Jack Docherty and Moray Hunter is also great.

A lot of viewers have noted the film's high levels of self-awareness, as the characters comment on the absurdity of finding shadows in the least bit entertaining. Upfront self-awareness, as always, is a pretty hit-or-miss line of humour, but in this case I think it serves its purpose. In many ways, 'Humdrum' can be taken as a commentary on the increasingly insistent weirdness found in so many experimental animated shorts today, while still managing to be a brilliant example of one itself, and promoting an animation style that is both innovative and impressive. It's also nicely scripted, with lots of sharp lines and inspired set-pieces (including an amusing sequence demonstrating that radio is, in the words of the more pessimistic shadow 'all the same rubbish these days'), and, above all, an especially clever final 'punch-line' that rounds the routine off perfectly and ultimately makes this wonderful short such rewarding viewing.

Alongside 'Creature Comforts' and the extremely underrated 'Going Equipped', this is definitely one of Aardman's best - strange, freakish, but very, very excellent. And you gotta love that closing moment.

Grade: A


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