Oscar-nominated animated short films touch on adult themes

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Unrated. Opens Friday, February 8, at the Vancity Theatre

My favourite of this year’s animated Academy Award offerings—among several already seen opening for major releases last year—is a directorial debut for John Kahrs, an animator on such fare as Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille, and The Incredibles. The seven-minute “Paperman”, a black-and-white tale of love and office angst, is much more subdued but just as thoroughly thought through as those bigger titles.

A lot happens in the two minutes of “Fresh Guacamole”, a tasty, stop-motion look at household objects being turned into avocado dip, courtesy the clever PES, aka Adam Pesapane. Puppets and other inanimate things are also made to move fluidly in Timothy Reckart’s 11-minute “Head Over Heels”, about an aging couple that has grown apart to the point where they live on two different levels—literally, with her on the floor and him on the ceiling. (Or is it the other way around?)

You could think of Dog as Eve spelled backwards in “Adam and Dog”, Minkyu Lee’s elegant and tenderhearted conjecture on what could have been the first dog attached to an upright jungle creature—until the inevitable distraction arrives. At 15 minutes, it’s the longest entry here, and considering that it was hand-drawn as well as self-funded, that’s saying something.

Even if you didn’t see it with Ice Age: Continental Drift, you won’t need much introduction to “The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare”, from series ex-producer David Silverman. The five-minute flick’s title refers to the application of baby Maggie’s John Wayne–like survival skills in her first visit to the Ayn Rand School for Tots, and All Quiet on the Western Front is also invoked when she sets out to save a stray butterfly from a Very Young Republican. (Three other unscreened shorts will share the program.)

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