June 15, 2006

Short Film Review: One Man Band

One Man Band played theatrically attached to the beginning of Cars. If there is one way to start off a night at the theater on the right foot, it's to show a delightful short film prior to your main event.

Pixar's releases always seem to contain a little throwback like this. It is like a return to old days of cinema, where you would get a newsreel, a cartoon, and a short before getting to the feature. I wish this would catch on with other studios. I would love to see a related short film attached to the big features. I am sure there are plenty of up and coming directors that could put together worthy short films on modest budgets to show off their abilities on a grander stage. Guys like Jay Holben, who has made some fine shorts. But I digress, this is about this about the wonderful Pixar short, One Man Band, if you forgot the title from my rambling.

As the last trailer faded out, I think it was Santa Clause 3 (featuring music from The Nightmare Before Christmas, could that prove ironic?), the opening of One Man Band came up. At first, I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but those feelings left very quickly. The film quickly won me over with its energy and charm.

The setting looks to be a fountain somewhere in Paris. Near the fountain stands a one man band, complete with drums and horns and all manner of noisemakers, he looks down sadly at his empty tin tip cup. At that moment, a small girl enters the fountain area and heads towards the water's edge, pulling out a shiny gold coin as she goes. This prompts the band man to start playing, excited at the prospect of a coin in his cup. The young girl is now torn between the man and the fountain. Enter another complication. A rival band man is across the other side of the fountain. He is bedecked with all manner of stringed instruments, and his playful performance draws the young girl's attention.

The appearance of the other band man prompts a fast escalating battle of the bands. The performances are fierce, the girl is completely confused as to where to place her hard earned coin. As the battle reaches its climax..... nope, not going to finish it, you will have to see it for yourself.

I will say that the ending is pure poetic justice. There is no dialog, everything is told through the music and the animation. The animation is very stylized, and very effective. I just found myself smiling through the whole thing, with the smile getting bigger as the film wore on.

The film was written and directed by Mark Andrews and Andrew Jimenez. Both of them have worked on a variety of first rate Pixar projects. The duo were also nominated for an Academy Award for this film, also Andrews first in the director's chair.

Bottomline. All I have to say is that I really hope this gets released with the Cars DVD. I look forward to seeing it again. The rest of you have something to look forward to. I know it's a pipe dream, but hey studios, think about adding some shorts to the multiplexes!

Highly Recommended.
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