by George Wolf
Alright, I’ll give you about 75 minutes, give me a series of frenetic vignettes that might seem silly, but end up pulling each other along to paint a charming picture of that crazy little thing called love.
Doable? Oh yeah, make it animated, and dialogue free.
Veteran animator Bill Plympton does it with Cheatin’, one couple’s story of passion, jealousy, magic and bumper cars.
Long, lovely Ella catches the eye of every man just by walking down the street, and beefcake-y Jake is the town stud muffin. So naturally, when a mishap at the county fair brings them together, passions ignite.
Cold water comes in the form of a jealous other woman, who hatches a scheme to convince Jake that Ella has been unfaithful. He eases his pain with a bevy of nameless babes, which leads Ella to fight for her true love..with help, of course, from a magician who can transform Ella into the souls of Jake’s new conquests.
It’s nonsensical fun with a solidly romantic heart beating underneath. The trials of Jake and Ella begin to personify all the joy and pain of love itself and why, for the right person, it’s all worth it in the end.
Plympton’s unique animation style can require some adjustment time if your unfamiliar, but soon the strangely elongated torsos and morphing elements win you over with inspired creativity. The pastel-laden set pieces give way to simple charcoal drawings and back again, all moving with a fluidity that becomes downright gleeful.
I mean, if Jake and Ella can make it, there’s hope for all of us.
Catch Bill Plympton in person at a special Q&A session after the 7pm screening of Cheatin’ on April 27th at the Gateway Film Center.