Animal Behaviour (2018)
Directors: David Fine, Alison Snowden
Screenwriters: David Fine, Alison Snowden
Starring: Ryan Biel, Taz Van Rassel, Leah Juel, Andrea Libman, Toby Berner, James Kirk, Alison Snowden
Witty and charming, and featuring some excellent characterisation, David Fine and Alison Snowden’s Oscar nominated animated short film Animal Behaviour is perhaps the most laugh out loud of the 2019 field, though its positives run much deeper than a simple laugh or two.
Snowden Fine’s animated group therapy session centred on the problems of a variety of the animal kingdom’s most troubled souls, produced by The National Film Board of Canada, is a piece that builds from an absurdist metaphor for the differences we each have as human beings and the stereotypes we are often associated with, and then sets course on unravelling the very fabric of what we build ourselves up to be and what we see ourselves as. All told through the medium of dogs, cats, pigs and leeches of course…
This comedy is, on the surface at least, about what it would be like to have a world in which numerous animals live together much like humanity does, but over the course of its fifteen minutes it evolves into something more, the comedy at the heart of the piece working to drive home how different yet similar we all are as human beings, and just how silly our concerns can seem, all of which is completed with a riotously funny conclusion that’ll leave you smiling for a good while after the film is over.
One of the triumphs of the piece is how it cleverly drip-feeds subtle characterisation in-keeping with the species each character represents, and how it does this through its use of a family cartoon style of animation complete with butts… lots of butts. In any given wide shot of the session, the cat may be seen grooming itself, the group-leading canine wagging his tail with excitement at the next great revelation from one of his subjects. Each subtle revelation brings to life the characters at the heart of the film, piecing together sequences with an intrigue that quickly builds into enthusiasm and then finally pleasure. This is a group therapy session, but the fact that each creature is indeed a creature is never lost on the animators and therefore no second is left absent of a way to gather investment or intrigue.
The tone for this film is light-hearted however, so metaphors aside and animation techniques on the back burner, Animal Behaviour is required to maintain a particular tone and grab a laugh or two, maybe even three, and it certainly has no problem in doing so. The picture is filled with small jokes and punchlines, but the way that Fine and Snowden orchestrate the entire piece to act as if its own singular joke and punchline is what truly elevates this unique outing to a whole new level, Animal Behaviour persistently pinching your comedy receptors and becoming wholly memorable through doing so.
What Snowden Fine Animation have produced with Animal Behaviour is a short animated film that is entirely worthy of its Oscar nominated status, a brilliantly funny piece of cinema that’ll stick in your mind long after you’ve watched it; a true gem.