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Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Anniversary Card (2013)

Director: Sheri H Barbera
This film was a submission to one of the IFP Phoenix film challenges in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 submissions.
An Adventure in the Life of Barry Barksworth failed to stand out from the crowd but that's the least of the problems The Anniversary Card has. Perhaps the most obvious and unique entrant in this year's IFP Beat the Clock film challenge, it's entirely animated and what it clearly lacks in technical merit it makes up for in sheer exuberance. It's less of a film and more of a five minute animated gif that leapt through a wormhole in time from 1999. If only there had been a banner ad at the top of the screen, I might have believed this was a Geocities website. All the other components are there: crude artwork and animation, PowerPoint effects a go go and all the expected fonts, not to mention a heartwarming story progression. It would be easy to dismiss it outright, if not for the heart that underpins the entire piece. It's still not great art, but it left me happy that the two halves of Hartman-Barbera Productions found a destiny in each other and progressed to the point where they would make this.

It's framed as a fairy tale to explain the word 'destiny', which is pretty appropriate for an anniversary card sent from a husband to his wife of five years. We're quickly introduced to Sheri and Sal, before it leaps forward to explain how they met and fell in love, all narrated like a storybook for children. The artwork is primitive and the effects work traditional, if capable, with much of the visual design using comic book stylings. While there are some neatly surreal touches, it mostly carries the sort of sugary sweet romantic feel that teenage kids get icked out by. I have no idea if Sheri and Sal have any kids, but I can easily picture a eight year old daughter sighing at how this is the most beautiful thing ever but a sixteen year old praying to Satan to end her parents. It'll be the most beautiful thing ever again when that sixteen year old is eighty and those parents are dead and buried, but to a wider audience, it's just fluff. Kudos for a different approach, but not much more.

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