Western Animation: Rejected

In the spring of 1999, the Family Learning Channel commissioned animator Don Hertzfeldt to produce promotional segments for their network. The cartoons were completed in five weeks. The Family Learning Channel rejected all of them upon review, and they were never aired...

Rejected is a collection of animated shorts from animator Don Hertzfeldt. He utilized a very minimalist approach to the artwork and incorporated very surreal elements. Was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in the year 2000.

Watch it here.

The cartoon is only 10 minutes long, so spoilers are unmarked. All the better reason to watch the cartoon before reading this page.

These shorts provide examples of:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: A significant portion of the spoken dialogue has really weird intonation.
  • Artistic License Biology: Ticks cannot fly no matter how angry they are.
    • Rabbits cannot howl or fire angry ticks out of their nipples.
  • Black Comedy: "Honey, come quick, Poopie's taking his first steps!" (baby then falls down an endless flight of stairs to wild applause)
  • Bland-Name Product: The Family Learning Channel and Johnson & Mills
  • High-Pressure Blood:
    • The scene where the guy's eye pops and the jet of blood from the socket sprays all over his friend.
    • The character in the "My anus is bleeding!" scene ends up drowning in his own blood.
  • Hong Kong Dub: Played for laughs with the two normal-looking stick figures.
  • Medium Awareness: During the climax, at least one character is desperately banging on the Fourth Wall, either trying to escape or seeking the viewer's help.
  • Minimalism: For a guy known for making the most of strange and sneaky camera tricks, this is incredibly stripped-down.
  • Mouth Flaps: Intentionally mismatched with the dialogue.
  • Napoleon Delusion: "I'm the queen of France."
  • Non Sequitur:
    • "Tuesday's coming. Did you bring your coat?" "I live in a giant bucket..."
    • "Do you want to go see a movie?" "I'm feeling fat and sassy!"
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Any instance of bleeding. Just pick one.
  • Pop-Up Trivia: This version of the short has text commentary by Hertzfeldt.
  • Self-Deprecation: The basis of the film is that Don Hertzfeldt is having a nervous breakdown because he can't sell any of his work.
    • Ironically, Don himself admits that he's turned down many commercial deal offers since his fame with Rejected.
  • Screen Tap: Used to horrifying effect. In the ending, a stickman desperately bangs on the paper as the animated world around him collapses. It's to no avail, as he is consumed by the Dream Apocalypse.
  • Stylistic Suck: The left-handed cartoon.
  • Surreal Humor: Heads straight into Surreal Horror territory by the end, though...
  • Those Two Guys: The two normal-looking stick figures, who get creepier and more surreal as their scenes are shown. They have three scenes, starting with a screaming tumor and culminating in one of the men getting his stomach ripped off and having it placed on the other man's head, who then goes on to mention that he's "the queen of France" while his arms grow and wiggle.