Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Films of Michael Sporn (Volume 1 & 2; Whitewash/Champagne/Talking Eggs/Hunting Of The Snark)

The Films of Michael Sporn  (Two Volumes, sold separately)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Films:


Whitewash   B+

Champagne   B+

The Talking Eggs   B

Hunting of the Snark   B-



Produced around the mid-1990s onward, animation director Michael Sporn has created some very exceptional short films that deal with social issues and life.  The Films of Michael Sporn are the first of what we can only hope will be a long-running series of works and DVD releases.  They are all done in the (now?) old-fashioned way of cell art.  No digital work whatsoever is used and the results are exceptional.  This gives the animators a chance to try all kinds of coloring possibilities that harkens back to the pioneering days of the artform.


Whitewash and Champagne are offered on Volume One, while The Talking Eggs and Hunting of the Snark appear on Volume Two.  Whitewash is the boldest and best of the bunch, dealing gracefully with the disgraceful incident in which a white gang used white shoe polish on two young African American’s faces.  This version only allows it to happen to one of the siblings, and is a return to a real animation of intelligence that has been nightmarishly lacking since the “toy advertisements as TV series” we have been suffering through since the 1980s.  It also is graced with the voice talents of Linda Lavin (TV’s Alice) and Ruby Dee.  This may be at least a minor classic, even sporting Hip Hop music before that was so commonplace.


Champagne offers another painful story of a young African American girl of the title, who has to deal with no father, a mother in jail for defending herself and killing her attacker under ugly circumstances, and all the awful ways she fell and nearly fell through the cracks of our system.  The real-life young lady voiced her part and this was a deserved multiple award winner.


The Talking Eggs is narrated by Danny Glover and involves the single mother household trying to get by when one of the two children meets an old woman who has more than thanks to offer when the young girl offers to help her.  This is a great fantasy piece that effectively makes the viewer think.  Glover delivers well as a narrator who happens to be a street character.


Hunting of the Snark is the most abstract and risky of them all, trying to interpret Lewis (Alice In Wonderland) Carroll’s send-up of Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.  This is complex stuff for kids, especially since most viewers will either have not read the original stories, or not have read them recently enough to appreciate them.  Either way, it is a fine work that does work, but you need to bring with you more than the contents offer.  That does not make it a failure either, like the endless parade of bad feature film adaptations of books that make cinematically-illiterate bookworms think they are better than everyone else.  James Earl Jones narrates a work that sometimes feels like The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (1968) and will be something to reexamine over and over again.


The full screen, color images on each DVD are stylistic and not bad at all.  Sometimes, the color really jumps out.  These were all made with exceptional artistic talent and the hard work pays off.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is not bad either, which extends to the documentaries on each DVD about the sets of films they offer.  Sporn also offers commentary on all four shorts, which are very useful, and you get brief still galleries of the cell and sketch work.


This author’s days as a kid are long over, but still can claim to be up on many of the entertainment products released for that market.  This was, shockingly, the first time I had really heard about these films.  Seeing them was like watching Schoolhouse Rock for the first time.  The Films of Michael Sporn are easily some of the best-animated works of the last 25 years and these DVDs will hopefully, finally, give them their due!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com