Artistic endeavours in the field of animation can offer such grand and differing varieties. Bill Plympton’s craft throughout The Tune offers a uniquely charming parody of stifled creatives attempting to break free from conglomerate paychecks, or rather, create something that’ll appease them. Every artist has their vision, and Plympton presents that of a stifled mind, looking to put pen to paper on a unique and charming jingle. Hard as it may be to write or create something, doing so in such a short window of time can lead either to genius highs or embarrassingly rushed lows. There’s no in-between as the adrenalin takes hold, and to some degree, The Tune is that adrenalin rush creatives sometimes find in their possession.
Frustrations of a creative blockage are shown rather well. Horrors of the deadline start closing in, the panic that ensues when you realise you have absolutely nothing to show for your efforts. The Tune offers sudden musical numbers throughout its short and sweet narrative. These moments of medley paired with the lovingly crafted animation provide the best moments of the film. Our quick trip to the town of Flooby Nooby offers up the imagination of Plympton, a collation of eccentrics and reality-bending skits. These vaguely connected scenes offer up brilliant animation and scathing criticisms of creative castration and admission to the rat race of competitive life.
Plympton somehow balances these scathing jabs at life with some exceptionally surreal and distinctive animation. Although marvellous to watch, the lack of real connection found throughout the narrative and rather underwhelming bits of plodding story. Considering how brief it is, The Tune has brief interludes dedicated to absolutely nothing at all. A mixed bag of talents on display in these moments, some clips that feel entirely out of the blue but work, others that have slender narrative connections and don’t elicit the manic level found earlier, nor the strong moments of story in the starting moments of the movie.
The Tune is a different branch of the animated comedy tree. My problems lie in its performances, intentional but not my cup of tea. A cross between the unique calm found in True Stories and the manic storytelling offered up by A Town Called Panic, Plympton’s work has something for everyone; even the slightest fans of whimsy or stylish hand-drawn craft will enjoy this. Creativity reigns free, various styles to show off and plenty of startling jokes. Hysterical moments only available through this format, The Tune is fast and loose, a lot of fun and doesn’t care much for how its narrative turns out. Plympton and his cast are just happy to be there, and that much is clear from the raving brilliance found here.