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'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
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.
Two shadowy characters sit at home bored with only some `weird animation
thing' on the telly. They try various things to stave off the boredom,
welcoming the interruption of the door bell before resorting to playing
Starting out with a reference to `some animation rubbish' being the only thing on TV, this short film sets out it's comedy to be self aware and witty. The animation looks good despite being just essentially animated shadows. The backgrounds (painted walls, corrugated iron sheeting etc) make the film look much better than it would have had it been just shadows on a white background.
There isn't much of a plot to it but the characters make it work. At times the two main characters are a bit OTT but not too much, in fact the characters do work well if you like sarcastic humour. The other characters are good the double glazing salesman, and the final doorbell ring is pretty funny!
Overall this is a good film from the Aardman stable, which is witty and inventive. If it had a flaw it's that it was a little too self aware with it making several references to itself (`I can't imagine anything more boring than watching shadows') but this is a minor problem as these references are still quite funny.
Nominated for the 1999 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, Humdrum is the tale of two bored shadow puppets who play charades on an afternoon. I don't know if this has been released to video or not but the subtle British comedy should be appreciated by everyone of all ages.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This short was nominated for an Academy Award for Animated Short. There
will be mild spoilers ahead:
This short starts off strangely and just becomes weirder as it goes. The two characters (one of them the dimmest bulb in the lamp) first try to find something on the radio, only to hear the same song played in various styles of music, then have an annoying visitor, write off playing chess for a most disturbing reason and finally devolve to a game of "shadow puppets", in other words, casting shadow figures on the wall while they each try to guess what the other one has created.
I would be fashioning a noose about this time, but the smarter one has greater forbearance than I do, so he gamely plays on until he finally cracks and launches into a magnificent rant with one of the best insults in recent memory, all of which is clearly lost on his obtuse friend.
I haven't been able to track this down on any type of media, but it's floating about on the web and is worth tracking down and watching. Recommended.
This short animation appears to have been done by casting shadows of cutout characters onto various backgrounds. It's the story of a couple of brit slacker/losers with nothing to do on an afternoon. One of them gets the idea to play "handshadows". The actors who did the character voices were brilliant and that combined with the innovative animation technique make for a very nice film.
HUMDRUM was nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in
2000 and lost to THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. I am in complete agreement
with this, as THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA was a truly amazing film to
watch, whereas HUMDRUM was just good old fashion silly fun but had none
of the visual impact of THE OLD MAN. Now this does NOT mean that I
disliked HUMDRUM--it was wonderful and funny as well as very
reminiscent of a past Oscar winner in this same category in 1985
The film begins with these silhouettes of two strange creatures talking. Nothing terribly exciting happens, but I loved the first third of the film. The dialog was terribly clever and I loved how the one guy acted when he answered the door. Later, when they started playing shadow puppets, I actually think the movie slowed down a bit. It was still funny, but believe it or not, when the film had less plot it was more enjoyable!! My advice is to see this film. It's funny, cute and nicely animated. While not the Oscar winner, who cares?! It's so well done that frankly this doesn't matter.
This short film revolves around a couple of characters who are bored
and want something to do . How about a game of chess ? Unfortunately
one of the characters has eaten the pieces so that's that idea
extinguished . How about a game of shadow puppets ? Oh a great idea as
we get some abstract shapes against a wall . What on earth is that
supposed to be ? MOOOOOOOOOOOOO Oh it must be a cow
It's at this point that I should explain that the two characters featured are themselves shadow puppets ! I guess this is why some reviewers claim HUMDRUM is somewhat knowing , that it is almost post modernist and maybe it is and in no way is that a criticism but I was slightly disappointed by this effort from the Aardmann studios probably because the story itself is very slight and can be accurately described in my first paragraph . It is very inoffensive but at the same time very threadbare at only seven minutes
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