Simulacra and simulation

Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt’s “Animation Show” livens up the Oak Street.

Gabriel Shapiro

The Animation Show” is out to change minds. Don Hertzfeldt and Mike Judge want to prove that animation and the short film are crucial forms within the broader rubric of cinema. To make their point, these two men, each a renowned animator in his own right, have brought together an astonishing array of animated shorts.

Their selection includes almost every type of animation and a wide variety of subject matter. From comedy to science fiction, oil painting to claymation, Judge and Hertzfeldt have assembled quite a collection of arguments.

No animation compilation could call itself complete without contributions from the greats, and the film at hand does not disappoint. Some of animation’s real heavies are represented, the shows’ curators Hertzfeldt and Judge included. Also present are Ward Kimball, Tim Burton and Bill Plympton.

Hertzfeldt offers up an intro, a conclusion and an intermission piece titled “Intermission in 3D,” which is truly hilarious. His two other shorts are “Billy’s Balloon” and “Rejection.” The latter is probably the funniest piece of creativity ever committed to film. The phrase “my anus is bleeding” has rarely been this laugh-inducing.

Judge’s work shines a much more flattering light on his wit than his MTV loser duo “Beavis and Butthead” did. In a series of studies, sketches and early works, we can see elements of Hank Hill, and, more interestingly, the seeds for Judge’s live-action cult classic “Office Space.” The quirky, creepy Milton character is there, along with smarmy office manager Bill Lumbergh.

Bill Plympton’s latest offering, “Parking,” features his trademark bizarre take on the most mundane elements of everyday life – all of it done in squiggly drawings and frenetic camerawork.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” director Tim Burton puts one of his early pieces on display. “Vincent” is reminiscent of “Nightmare,” and features narration by Vincent Price. In typical Burton style, “Vincent” is the darkly comic tale of a lugubrious little boy obsessed with both Price and Poe, despite his mother’s rebuke.

Ward Kimball was one of the greats from the Disney studios, and worked on nearly all the classic films Disney turned out between 1934, the year Kimball was hired, and his last projects in the late 1970s. Kimball was a native of Minneapolis and is probably most famous for creating Jiminy Cricket. Included here is an excerpt from Kimball’s 1957 short “Mars and Beyond,” which originally aired on television as part of the “Disneyland” series. This is a fascinating and beautifully rendered bit of science fiction fantasy that ponders life on Mars and the potential for non-carbon-based creatures.

The rest of the lot aren’t exactly unknowns, either here or abroad. There are four other Academy Award-nominated films, “Mt. Head,” “The Rocks,” “Strange Invaders” and “Fifty Percent Grey.” Artists from eight countries are featured among some of the film’s less-than-household names.

Other highlights include Georges Schwizgebel’s “La Course A L’Abime” (“Ride to the Abyss”). This piece is an artistic interpretation of the 18th scene from Hector Berlioz’s opera “The Damnation of Faust.” It is lavishly illustrated in oil paints on cels by this fantastic artist whose career spanned more than 30 years. Also, “Das Rad” (“The Rocks”) is an entertaining look at the entire rise and fall of humankind as seen by two old friends who, besides being funny guys, are piles of rocks.

There is something here for fans of any kind of animation, and even for those who don’t know they’re fans yet. Judge and Hertzfeldt are looking for converts, and they should be very successful with material like this.