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Western Animation / Animal Behaviour

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Animal Behaviour is a 2018 animated short film (eight minutes) directed by Alison Snowden and David Fine, produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

Dr. Leonard Clement is a dog who runs a group therapy session. His patients are: Lorraine, a leech with anxiety issues; Cheryl, a self-absorbed praying mantis; Todd, a pig who can't stop eating; Jeffrey, a bird with a dark secret; and Linda, a cat with OCD. Their efforts to work out their problems and neuroses are temporarily disrupted by the new arrival: Victor, a gorilla with an anger management problem. Victor thinks the whole process of therapy is ridiculous and pours scorn on all the rest.

First theatrical short for the spousal team of Snowden and Fine since their 1993 Oscar winner, Bob's Birthday.

See it here for yourself on the NFB's official Youtube channel.


  • Analogy Backfire: When Dr. Clement says that therapy is like peeling an onion to reveal your best self, Victor objects that all you get from peeling an onion is more onion and watery eyes.
  • Big "NO!": Jeffrey lets out an agonized "NO!" after flashing back to the day he pushed his brother out of the nest.
  • Butt Sticker: When Victor arrives, he unwittingly sits on Lorraine. Dr. Clement doesn't realize it until he turns to ask Lorraine a question. Lorraine is rather horrified by the experience, but otherwise fine.
  • Cain and Abel: Jeffrey the bird may be a cuckoo, given that his regression therapy exercise with Dr. Clement reveals that he murdered his little brother by pushing him out of the nest.
    Dr. Clement: It's OK, Jeffrey.
    Victor: That is not OK!
  • Civilized Animal: All the animals talk like people, but they still exhibit their animal behaviors. The pig eats nonstop. The praying mantis admits the real reason she can't maintain a relationship is that she bites the heads off of her sex partners. The dog admits that he used to have a butt-sniffing problem that he has kicked.
  • Disembodied Eyebrows: Lorraine the leech has eyes at the top of her body, so her eyebrows float above her head.
  • Disney Death: It at first seems like Dr. Clement jumped out the window and got hit by a car. Fortunately, he climbs his way back up, to everyone's relief.
  • Dramatic Drop: When Victor throws the chair leg out the window and Dr. Clement goes jumping after it, seemingly to his death, the praying mantis dramatically drops her cell phone.
  • Hyperventilation Bag: Dr. Clement gives Lorraine a tiny bag to breathe into when she starts having a panic attack.
  • Interspecies Romance: Implies to be what will happen at the end of the cartoon when Cheryl asks Victor out on a date. She can't bite his head off, at least.
  • I Am a Monster: After his outburst nearly gets Dr. Clement killed, a guilt-ridden Victor says "Look at me, I'm a monster!"
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    Cheryl: You are so in denial!
    Victor: I am not!
  • Literal Metaphor: Lorraine says she feels like she's a parasite to her partner. She's reminded that she's a leech, so she is a parasite.
  • Manly Tears: Victor when he finally breaks down in group and admits that he's always felt pressure to be the tough guy.
  • Mantis Mating Meal: Cheryl laments her tendency to eat her mates during sex has left her a lonely and stressed single-mother.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • After a session of regression therapy, Jeffrey quickly goes from screaming in guilt and shame about killing his little brother to his normal cheerful self.
    • The horrified silence when Dr. Clement jumps out the window and nearly gets hit by a car turns awkward when he climbs back in and tries to resume the therapy session. Then it turns sad when Victor breaks down and admits to his issues.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Jeffrey during his regression therapy when he realizes he pushed his brother off the nest.
    • Victor finally realizes he has a temper problem when he thinks he killed Dr. Clement by making him jump out the window.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: The patients are there to cure what, to their respective species, is perfectly normal behavior.
    • Dr. Clement claims to once having a habit of sniffing other people's butts. At one point his attention focuses on Victor's backside as he bends over, and we can see him fight the urge to sniff it.
    • When Victor goes on a rampage, Dr. Clement starts acting like an attack dog. Later in their fight, Victor holds up a leg from a broken chair. Upon seeing it, Clement suddenly acts like a dog playing fetch. Victor hurls the stick at him and it flies out the window, causing Dr. Clement to jump after it.
  • The Shrink: Dr. Clement, dog psychologist. He helps Victor have a breakthrough.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Lorraine and Cheryl have the long lashes that animators sometimes use to demonstrate that a creature like a slug or a praying mantis is female.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: So thinks Victor, who insults all the other people who are at Dr. Clement's therapy session.
  • Thick-Line Animation: Used for a kind of old-school visual effect.