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Western Animation / The Critic (1963)

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"Is dis da sex life of two things?

"What the hell is dis? Must be a cartoon."
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The Critic is a 1963 animated short film (only four minutes!) directed by Ernest Pintoff, written by and starring Mel Brooks, in his film debut.

The short is a series of animated abstractions, with lines, squiggles, and other abstract figures moving and changing shape against a plain background that changes colors. Playing over this is the voice of an old man, a cranky 71-year-old Russian Jew. The old man, who apparently thought he'd bought a ticket to a European Erotic Film, struggles to make sense of the avant-garde animation and complains throughout.

Brooks had recently gotten his big break playing a character called "The 2000-Year-Old Man," and in this short plays a very similar cranky old man character.

Not to be confused with the animated TV series of the same title.


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Tropes:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of Norman McLaren's idiosyncratic animation.
  • Alter Kocker: A cranky old Jewish man mumbling about art.
  • Born In The Theater: The old man complains about having paid $2 to see the short. At one point a woman tells him to be quiet.
  • Faux Symbolism: In-Universe, this is the old man's opinion of the cartoon he is watching.
    "It must be some symbolism. I think it's symbolic of junk."
  • Le Film Artistique: An abstract animated short film, lines and squiggles moving around to music, much to an audience member's disgust.
  • Pastiche: Supposedly Mel Brooks had gone to see a screening of a Norman Mc Laren abstract animation short, only to hear another audience member grumble and mumble throughout. The animation in this short thus is done in a deliberately abstract McLaren style.
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