Johnny Bullet
Movie Reviews
Idiots and Angels at Fantasia 2008
By Al Kratina

August 10, 2008 - 20:23

Idiots and Angels
2008, USA
Director: Bill Plympton
Screenplay: Bill Plympton
Producers: Biljana Labovic
Distributor: Bill Plympton Studio
Running Time: 78 minutes

Evolution is important to an artist. However, so is continuity. Otherwise, you end up with Judy Winslow from Family Matters starring in More Black Dirty Debutants 30, which can lead to some disturbing and possibly illegal reactions from long-time fans.

Thankfully, while legendary independent animator Bill Plympton has evolved considerably in his new feature film Idiots and Angels, he’s maintained a link to his previous work, preserving the continuity of his career.

A master of the sight gags with a distinctive style, Plympton has concentrated on comedy for most of his animated features and shorts. But Idiots and Angels, while featuring those elements, adds a darker hue, taking the colour down a tone or two with old whiskey and nicotine stains. The nameless main character haunts shady bars and dark alleyways, and the film opens with an erection gag, setting the stage for an animation far removed from traditional cartooning, unless there’s a lost Disney reel somewhere where Cinderella licking coke off Snow White’s gums.


Not that the film is explicit, violent, or any more depressing than 3 AM behind any given circuit party. There are moments of humour, and when our misanthropic lead character begins growing angel wings, the film takes on allegorical quality. Plympton’s animation has a classic film noir look that I haven’t seen him use before, but thankfully this doesn’t affect his distinctive, sketchy and vaguely expressionistic style.

Completely free from dialogue, Idiots and Angels is purely cinematic, relying entirely upon masterful visual storytelling. Plympton’s evolution, then, does not ignore the medium’s foundations nor his own artistic past, but rather looks towards the future. A depressing, alcoholic future that smells like old cigars and misery, but a future nonetheless.


Sick of reading paragraphs with punctuation and sentences? Here’s a bit-sized capsule review, with a handy “Suckometer” scale, that runs from 1 (good) to Suck (not good).

The main character in this film is not exactly sympathetic, and I’m a little confused about the ultimate message. So, I guess molesting girls when you don’t have wings is not okay. But if you do have wings, molest away. Now, do you get the wings from molesting people, or do the wings just happen to the lucky molesters? On a scale of one to suck, I give this film a dirtier Wings of Desire.

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