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I don’t have kids, but I am getting married next month, so a few questions relevant to DC Shorts’ family showcase—-such as, “When I have a family, will I ever see an art-house film again?” and “Will I spend my 30s and 40s watching Shrek knock-offs?”—-have been dogging me. With a trope-exploding exception or two, these films give me little comfort.
I Like Apples: There’s no coyness in that title. There are apples—lots of apples. And children, doing adorable apple things. And a hayseed muppet singing a folksy apple song about why he likes apples so darn much (“because they’re red…that’s what I said”). Apples, apples. So many apples. Apples? Apples.
Two Princesses: Come for the rousing Slavic folk soundtrack, stay for the batshit animation (above) and slyly subversive deus ex machina. Unexpected moral of this manic Russian fairy tale: Avoid underground pixie dance clubs, where you will lose your appetite and probably die.
Rock Wall Climbing: Massachusetts girl moves to Colorado, builds rock-climbing wall in her garage. Like every Coloradan.
A Girl Named Elastika: Shouty rubber-band-and-corkboard animation for shouty rubber-band-and-corkboard animation’s sake. Kids will dig the cliff-jumping infinite-runner action; infantile adults will laugh at the weak-sauce meta-humor and references to Castaway.
Jacob Fights Giants: A city girl and her father move to the country, where their hippy-dippy neighbors take walks in the brush, talk armchair astrophysics, and have a son whose main hobby is wearing a red cape and killing invisible giants. Girl meets boy, girl hates boy, boy spit-pastes paper crown on girl’s head, giants get got—-you know, a love story.
Paulie: Remember when bully-revenge fantasies could be cruel, violent, and fun? Not here: After Tony, a typically unimaginative schoolyard bully, cheats to win an essay contest, nerdy Paulie sets out to prove his tormentor’s plagiarism. Spoiler alert: The bully has feelings, everyone learns a lesson in humility, a quiet understanding is reached. See you next Saturday morning!
Olivia’s Birds and the Oil Spill: In this quick-hit documentary, the environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen through the eyes of a bird-loving 11-year-old. Treacly but so well-meaning it’s beyond reproach, and not nearly as pious as that episode of The Newsroom.
Macropolis: In this live-action/stop-motion hybrid, two defective toys—-a one-eyed cat and a one-legged dog—-escape from the toy factory and search for their full-bodied brethren. The short is cute but meandering, but stay for the payoff, especially if your kid dresses up like a pirate. And then prepare for him to go home and hack off the limbs of his playthings. Apples.
Not reviewed from this showcase: Mouse’s Tale, for which a screener was not available.
Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m. at E Street Cinema Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. at Angelika Film Center Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. at Angelika Film Center Sept. 29 at 3 p.m. at VisArts