A few days ago I posted my belief that “whether 2D, 3D, stop motion or live action it all comes down to the story“. I genuinely believe that to be true for 99% of films but like any rule there are exceptions. Some films are obviously an excuse for art and the story takes a back seat. Usually to work these types of films have to give us something new. They have to be over-the-top and challenge us artistically otherwise the movie doesn’t work. Fantasia, for instance, gave us something new. Something that has never been topped artistically to date. Another example, last years Rocks in My Pockets did have a disturbing and profound story but it still took a back seat to the imagery presented.
This years Cheatin’ is another example of such an artistically bold film. It is not a film for everyone. It is challenging and like most new things a little tough to digest but I’m glad I saw it.
Created by animator Bill Plympton, Cheatin’ tells the story of a beautiful woman named Ella who is tired of superficial men. To her chagrin she gets wrangled into attending a carnival when she wants to just read her book.
Eventually she is convinced to ride the bumper cars but there is an accident and she is trapped. Fortunately, she is rescued by a jock type named Jake and they instantly fall in love. None of this is done through any real dialogue but through music, opera, grunts, screams, yells, sighs and other expressions.
With his broken heart he falls prey to temptation and becomes a serial adulterer. These scenes are fairly graphic for an animated movie. But they are so non-realistic that I wasn’t really offended but I can see that others would be. The music is amazing throughout in mixing opera, jazz and the score by Nicole Renaud.
Meanwhile Ella is devastated at her husbands cheatin ways and fantasizes what she wants to do to him.
Cheatin has an interesting back story. Bill Plympton raised over 100k on Kickstarter to make the movie and backers received the film in August of last year. This is why it was submitted to the Academy and Annies for 2014. (I guess that means it is out of the running for 2015?).
All the animation was drawn by Plympton himself which is kind of amazing (40,000 drawings all done by him!). What an artist! A staff of 10 people then did the colorization and compositing. It’s hard to believe so few people and such a tiny budget could make a film like this.
If 2D proponents are looking for signs of hope the Cheatin’ Kickstarter success and the quality of this movie should give it to them. Hullabaloo animated project got over 400k in only 1 month of fundraising with a goal of 80k so there’s that as well. Not half bad!
But back to the movie. It is challenging. It is different but I like films like that. The story isn’t much but it is audacious and bold enough in the visuals to not need it.
I think if you watch the trailer and it looks like you’d hate it you probably will. If it looks like the type of art you like and something interesting then give it a shot. You’d be supporting a small animator trying to do something in a big pond. I was more than happy to throw $10 his way to buy it on demand. $4.99 to rent.
Overall Grade- B+, Content Grade- C