"Celebrated cartoonist Bill Plympton's first feature film is a surreal musical fantasy with some inspired animation. He financed it entirely by himself, raising extra money by doing work for a few television commercials (see "Plymptoons: Complete Works" on DVD). He also released early portions of the film as shorts to help generate funds ("Dig My Do" in 1990, "Push Comes To Shove" and "The Wiseman" in 1991), even winning the 1991 Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival for "Push Comes To Shove." Working again with Maureen McElheron (she scored his 1988 Oscar-nominated short "Your Face"), Plympton pieces together the story of a songwriter who, after receiving a 47-minute deadline to deliver a hit song or get fired, finds himself lost in the town of Flooby Nooby. Through the course of ten musical numbers (touching on various popular music genres) and some outstanding animation sequences, he learns to pen songs from the heart rather than by the book. This film is classic Plympton, but the light-hearted theme and often silly songs contrast greatly with the bizarre sex and violence of his second feature-length film "I Married A Strange Person.""
Finding the right sound...
Michael Sean | 12/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am so happy to find this video available that I'm buying several--I've told so many people about it, and I had a copy of it, but literally wore it out playing it. There are so many classic animation moments in this...this...is it a musical? I guess so, but nothing like any musical you've ever seen before! The plot is slight but important: An unfortunate young song writer MUST write a catchy tune in a very short time or never win his heart's desire, and the poor fellow has writer's block--in fact, he hardly knows what his heart's desire really is. During his frantic push to produce this song, he loses himself in a land where EVERYTHING has a song to sing (and does). Don't miss the rockabilly dog sequence...or the country&western diner...or the dueling riddles tango. Best of all, each and every song has its own animation style, all within the matrix of the storyline."
Clever and Funny
Michael Sean | 01/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you like humor that is just a bit off-beat and bizarre, you will probably enjoy this film. It's classic Plympton, but the songs are good and there are actually a few clever insights about people mixed in, if you need intellectually redeeming qualities. I would not put much stock in the Charles Solomon review, which to my way of thinking missed every point in the film. For example, the hero does not go around listening to "people singing various songs--which he takes and passes off as own." Rather, he talks to people, and hears songs in the way they speak and act. Sort of a comment on the artistic process, I suppose. But mostly the movie is just funny. The animation is sort of like Monty Python animation, in that it is very simple, a bit twisted, funny and full of surprises. I watch this film over and over, each time wondering what make Plympton think of this stuff."
Funny Animation, Great Tunes
Bob Cronin | Belmont, MA United States | 03/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This full length film is highly recommended for Bill Plympton fans or fans of edgy animation. A solid effort from one of America's most distinctive animation artists. For the most part "The Tune seems to be a collection of Bill Plympton's shorter animations strung together with the aid of a thin storyline. The story is a sweet one, of love and what it means to give someone a song. But the main character is a little cloying, and it's hard to care much about what happens to him and his girl. That being said, the peripheral characters, who star in the musical numbers, are much more interesting. The animations are outstanding and easily stand on their own. They seem to have been done at different times, in different styles, and it seems like not all these bits were aware they were gonna become a part of this movie. As a result each has a slightly different look, and color palette, which adds to the interest of the film. Plympton's signature pencil sketch style is jumpy, wierd, disorienting and hilarious. Heads fold in half, split in two, and turn inside out. Characters morph into representations of the lyrics while they sing. The Wiseman's bald head grows funny hats by the dozens while a twangy countrified guitar does speed-solos. Serious tango partners share dumb jokes.
Each scene (for the most part) is based on a song, and the music is very catchy. I bought the soundtrack and still sing "Isn't It Good Again" and "Dance All Day" to myself frequently. This is not your standard animated movie. It's intended audience is adults, though it's certainly not "dirty" and kids could enjoy most sections of this. At most, sex is hinted at, as when a hotdog enthusiastically leaps into a hotdog bun. Pretty obvious, and amusing, but at the same time fairly innocuous. Also, we get to see a moment of naked animated bums at the end of "Dance All Day." Nothing your average kid can't handle.
In fullscreen, about an hour long. Regrettably, the sound is slightly muddy, and like most of Plmyptons releases, it's short on special features (there are none) and DVD production values aren't the highest. But this flick is certainly worth seeing on it's own merits."
Brilliant and distinctive animated musical
K. G. Anderson | SEATTLE, WA USA | 12/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was astonished to read ...(this website's) in-house review trashing The Tune. It's one of the most innovative animated musical films of all time. I saw in the early 90s and couldn't get it out of my mind. Finally purchased the soundtrack a few years ago, and it's one of my favorites, with tunes rooted in a dozen genres, from surfer music and rural blues to slick Vegas show tunes, Sondheim-type musings, and commercial country--about the only thing The Tune skips is opera! Bill Plympton's jittery animation works perfectly."