I thought that there was little reason to continue watching the Spike and Mike short-film collections, as I’ve already seen a cartoon about a fart. But with New Generation, Spike and Mike have moved past gastrointestinal humor, gone down the drain, and emerged in the clear ocean of actual animation. While the collection isn’t exactly an academic conference on the semiotics of aesthetics, it nonetheless has some excellent films. The acclaimed French short “Crab Revolution,” for example, contains no bodily functions, and includes a brief jab at existentialists, but still manages to be funny and full of beautifully drawn crabs. “The Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl” mixes live action and animation to tell a Rube Goldberg-esque story of love and revenge in the American Southwest, and Bill Plympton returns to form with “Santa: The Fascist Years,” telling the sad story of the jolly elf’s flirtation with National Socialism. So if you liked the previous Spike and Mike collections, there’s still stuff for you here, but if you found their emphasis on the anal a bit obsessive, it may be time to come back to the fold and see what happens when they select shorts on their intrinsic merits and not their fecal volume.


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