TFF 2020 Shorts: LOL

Among the sections I most look forward to each year at the Tribeca Film Festival are the comedy shorts. This year the lineup, titled collectively under “LOL” were presented online in lieu of the postponed festival. Here are my thoughts on this year’s program:

Personal Favorite: I Can Change!

Jim Jenkins’s plays with time travel creatively and with perfect deployment of brief special effects. John Hoogenakker stars as a groom who is gifted the ability to stop time and uses it ostensibly to “better” himself for his bride-to-bride. How? Well he freezes his bride and their friends in time at their wedding chapel while he disappears to the outside world for a blink of an eye and returns a whole new man having spent the time, for example, training to be a doctor. The simplistic way the “time travel” is achieved recalls some of the clever shortcuts something like Bill & Ted used–ie just stating their time travel intent means we immediately get to the consequences, sparing us the time trip. The pacing of the escalation in Hoogenakker’s jumps until the film taps into a big sci-fi finale is really fun.

Second Fave: Query

Jay and Alex spend nine minutes mulling over sexuality–both their own and its larger place in society–as they hang out. It’s nothing Earth shattering, but the natural rapport between the two leads (Justice Smith and Graham Patrick Martin) is really charming and it’s nice to see a pair of young guys just delving into their thoughts on the matter not in some overwrought or homophobic manner, but just chilling, and with enough friendly mocking to keep things funny. And to bolster this strong duo, you also get a brief run in with Call Me By Your Name’s Armie Hammer!

Overlong: John Bronco

Walton Goggins stars as a disgraced cowboy car pitchman John Bronco in a star-studded, but overlong mockumentary. I was excited for this one, generally always glad to see Goggins get to play over the top, but the film gets to the core of what the joke is with John Bronco relatively early and hammers on it over and over instead of advancing the plot. It’s 36 minute runtime could have been halved and achieve the same beats, though I understand why the filmmakers may have been reticent to cut any of the big cameos they got. Kudos for getting the MicroMachines pitchman (John Moschitta Jr) back on screen with his rapid-fire speech patterns though!

Additional program titles included the clever meet cute of One Last Heist–a romcom wrapped in a robbery from Canada, A Piece of Cake starring “Glow’s” Rich Sommer as a desperate dad and Egg which takes viewers from a simple diner and spirals it into a grand adventure.

Note: Though the 2020 Festival was officially postponed due to ongoing pandemic precautions, online screeners and the fest’s press library mean we can still offer coverage of this year’s selections while looking forward to getting back to the fest in the future!
Check out all our TFF 2020 coverage HERE

Blu-ray Review “Walt Disney Animation Studios Shorts Collection”

Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Run Time: 79 minutes

Shorts: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

We all know that everyone buying this Blu-ray would be mostly for “Frozen Fever”, one of Disney’s biggest hits ever. Honestly, it is an amazing short and we have easily watched it ten times already. The new song is easily one of the best song Disney has ever created. Other than “Frozen Fever”, this Blu-ray contains two never before released on video shorts including “Tick Tock Tale”, and “Lorenzo”. “Paperman” is one of my favorite shorts…probably ever, same goes for “Tangled Ever After”, which is full of laughs and “Feast”, which definitely gets a smile on your face. I can easily watch this shorts over and over.

Official Premise: From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes an extraordinary new collection of award-winning and beloved short films featuring Disney’s Frozen Fever, starring Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven and Kristoff, and the Oscar®-nominated Lorenzo (Best Animated Short, 2004). The Short Films Collection includes contemporary shorts starring classic characters, such as the groundbreaking 2013 Mickey Mouse cartoon, Get A Horse! And the holiday treat Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa, as well as celebrated Oscar winners Paperman (2012) and Feast (2014). Enjoy them together for the first time in this must-own collection with all-new extras including an inside look at the Disney Animation shorts, featuring introductions and interviews with the acclaimed filmmakers themselves.

Here are the complete list of the short films included: “Frozen Fever” (2015), originally premiered with “Cinderella”; “Feast” (2014), originally premiered with “Big Hero 6”. “Get A Horse!” (2013), originally premiered with “Frozen”; “Paperman” (2012), originally premiered with “Wreck it Ralph”; “Tangled Ever After” (2012), originally premiered with “Beauty and the Beast 3D”; “The Ballad of Nessie” (2011), originally premiered with “Winnie the Pooh”; “Tick Tock Tale (2010)”, previously unreleased; “Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa” (2010), originally premiered on ABC TV; “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater” (2007), originally premiered with “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”; “The Little Matchgirl” (2006), originally premiered with “The Little Mermaid Platinum Edition DVD”; Lorenzo (2004), originally premiered with “Raising Helen”; and lastly “John Henry” (2000), originally premiered in “Disney’s American Legends”.

Disney delivered a great release with a combo pack including a Blu-ray + DVD and digital HD copy. The 1080p transfer is flawless as expected from Disney. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is also amazing especially with Paperman’s score and Frozen Fever’s song. There are a few bonus features for nothing great. There are intros from the filmmakers before each short but they are like 30 seconds each and don’t give much info at all. There is also an interview with “Big Hero 6” star T.J. Miller. Lastly there is a final short film, “Runaway Brain” starring Mickey Mouse…but it is only available online using the Disney Movies Anywhere app or website.

DVD Review “Crime Does Not Pay: The Complete Shorts Collection”

Directors: Zion Myers, Jules White
Number of discs: 6
Distributed by: Warner Archive
Release Date: July 6, 2012
Running Time: 1010 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This release from Warner Archive comes with over 50 shorts running over 1000 minutes for the original MGM “Crime Does Not Pay” series. It is really a wonderful set and something that could have only been made by MGM in its heyday. The complete collection includes shorts from 1935-1947.  They are very unique and represent a very specific time in film history and in MGM’s history.  It also short showcases within in short with various different situations proving that in fact “Crime Does Not Pay”!

These B&W shorts looks fantastic on DVD, especially for their age.  Warner  Archive did a fantastic job of restoring and releasing this shorts to the public finally.  They are presented in full screen with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1. There is one bonus short included within the 50 called “Eyes of the Navy”. It is from 1940 and though not a “Crime Does Not Pay” short, it was released by MGM in theaters as part of the series.  Overall if you are a fan of classic shorts from Hollywood’s early days, this is something that you would not want to miss for sure.

The 50 shorts included are: Buried Loot Alibi Racket Desert Death Thrill for Thelma, A Hit and Run Driver Perfect Setup, The Fool Proof Public Pays Torture Money It May Happen to You Soak the Poor Give Till It Hurts Behind the Criminal What Price Safety Miracle Money Come Across Criminal is Born, A They’re Always Caught Think It Over Wrong Way Out, The Money to Loan While America Sleeps Help Wanted Think First Drunk Driving Pound Foolish Know Your Money Jackpot Women in Hiding Buyer Beware Soak the Old You, the People Respect the Law Forbidden Passage Coffins on Wheels Sucker List Don’t Talk For the Common Defense Keep ‘Em Sailing Plan for Destruction Patrolling the Ether Easy Life Dark Shadows Fall Guy, The Last Installment, The Phantoms, Inc. Gun in His Hand, A Purity Squad Luckiest Guy in the World, The EC: Eyes of the Navy.

Blu-ray Review “Lost Keaton: Sixteen Comedy Shorts 1934-1937”

Starring: Buster Keaton
Distributed by: Kino Lorber
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Run Time: 306 minutes

Shorts: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

In 1934, Buster Keaton signed a contract with Earle W. Hammons Educational Pictures which focused on comedy short subjects. This Blu-ray release is very impressive and includes over five hours within its 16 educational shorts. In fact, the reason why this is amazing set is because 14 of these shorts have never been available. Fans of Buster Keaton needs to check this out as it is one very cool set.

The video looks great with its 1080p transfer. These shorts were remastered in HD from 35mm negatives, so they are high quality but some of the shorts still show their age. The audio includes an LPCM 2.0 Mono track, which works well with the content but is really nothing special.

The films included are “The Gold Ghost”, “Allez Oop”, “Palooka From Paducah”, “One Run Elmer”, “Hayseed Romance”, “Tars and Stripes”, “The E-Flat Man”, “The Timid Young Man”, “Three on a Limb”, “Grand Slam Opera”, “Blue Blazes”, “The Chemist”, “Mixed Magic”, “Jail Bait” and “Ditto and Love Nest on Wheels”.

There are very few special features but I feel that the shorts are enough to make this release worth purchasing.    On the first disc, there is a photo gallery with sixteen stills.  On the second disc, there is a funny but short feature called “Why They Call Him Buster”, which features Buster falling. Inside the Blu-ray case, there is a booklet with overviews of each film in the set.