Monday, November 21, 2005


Can Black Bring Back the Live Action Short?

While waiting in the Sheepshead Bay UA theater to watch the Johnny Cash bio-pic, Walk the Line, to my surprise, a short film -- starring Jack Black, and promoting the TBS global warming awareness show, Earth to America -- flickered on screen. This two-minute-and-forty-five-second film -- produced by LA-based production company Stun Creative, and helmed by A-lister director Jay Roach (who has directed the entire Austin Powers series, as well as Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers) -- is a hysterical look at the corporate America's attempt to avoid dealing with the potential dangers caused by its practices. Black, in great comic form, plays an easy-influenced attorney who sues corporate America on behalf of the nation's children. As each camp sits across a huge conference table (Black and six children at one end, the corporate meanies at the other), the lawyer for the corporate side states, "We've invested a lot of money in the Earth, so technically it's ours." But, after staving off bribes (which include copious amounts of candy, a special performance by the fictitious children show singers The Konkle Heads, and cell phones shaped like bees), Black stands up for the children, and in a funny and impassioned speech says, "You think you can buy us off with candy or dancing Gila monsters? You want to mess up a planet? Go to Jupiter...or Uranus!!" In addition to its theatrical run (as part of the pre-feature showcase, The Twenty), the short also aired as part of the TBS special Earth to America on November 20, 2005, and was available to be streamed at AOL, the following day. So. Will this in fact signal a return to American-made, live action shorts, that play in theaters? Can this be the spark that's needed to re-ignite that return? Time will tell. With the creation of an Oscar category focused on it, the animated feature has now hit its stride. Spurred by Michael Moore's activist approach to the genre, the feature documentary, too, is now stronger than ever. Animated shorts (led by the march of Madagascar Penguins, this year) are poised for a return as well. Will the live action short follow? Here's hoping!

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