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  Mutant Aliens Astronutter
Year: 2001
Director: Bill Plympton
Stars: Dan McComas, Francine Lobis, George Casden, Matthew Brown, Jay Cavanaugh, Amy Allison, Christopher Schukai, Kevin Kolack, Vera Beren
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A television reporter attempts to push past the crowd to work out exactly what has happened at the White House - rumours abound that the President has been eaten by an alien creature - but suddenly the crowd disperses as a group of ferocious and bizarre beasts lays waste to them and the security men. Go back twenty years and we will find out how all this started when pioneering astronaut Earl Jensen (voiced by Dan McComas) embarked on a deep space mission. He said goodbye to his tiny little daughter Josie (Francine Lobis) and entered his spacecraft, but what he didn't know was that the head of the project, Dr Frubar (George Casden), was not entirely behind Earl's efforts. Once the craft had blasted off and was up in space, Frubar secretly pressed the button that emptied the fuel tanks and Earl was left to drift into the void...

You can tell this is no ordinary space invaders movie from its opening titles, where apparently female anatomy is revealed to be parts of Earl being showered, and of course, this is a Bill Plympton cartoon, so anything goes to secure those laughs. He scripted as well, so you can be safe in the knowledge that the vision you see onscreen is pure Plympton, and that's exactly how it plays. The director's feature length films tend towards the overstretched compared to the exquisite simplicity of his hand drawn shorter works, and Mutant Aliens is no exception, but it does carry the viewer along regardless with its wild and wacky humour and visual anarchy.

The characters in the Plympton universe seem to operate on a purely impulsive level, and when we catch up with the grown-up astronomer Josie in the present she is torn between continuing her studies at the observatory and enjoying sex with her boyfriend Derby (Matthew Brown), who has just arrived (although we have to have a ridiculous bit of business where it looks as if he's about to attack her with a bunch of flowers). But what's this Josie sees while bent over the console? It's a fast approaching fireball that she immediately recognises as her father's spacecraft, returning after all these years. Meanwhile, the avaricious Frubar is looking for funding for his huge advertising billboard that will float around the planet in orbit - how will Earl's return affect his devious plans?

Well, before Earl can do anything he has to relieve himself at great length and then tell his story about where he has been all this time, and it's a daft tale of crashlanding on a world inhabited by body parts: Earl fell in love with a large nose (with breasts!) and was all set to settle down with her when an army of fingers, eyes, hands and feet broke up their bliss. As you can surmise, the plot has the feeling of being made up by Plympton as he went along, a carefree accumulation of the first things that popped into his head, but it's really quite simple once you get down to it. There's a right on message about beating the advertising that has infested the world, and one about authorities taking repsonsibility for the results of their projects, no matter how unpalatable they may be, but mainly you sit back and let Plympton's exhaustive (and exhausting, to be honest) imagination transport you. And it is very funny. Music by Hank Bones and Maureen McElheron.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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