short takes (3)

The dazzling and informative exhibition devoted to Walt Disney animation, now on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, recalls the rich heritage of Hollywood cartoonery at its very best: Watching the Seven Dwarfs march off to work, or Dumbo unfurl his majestic ears for the first time, is very much like watching high (if popular) art. so it's doubly distressing that the latest feature-length cartoon from Hollywood is a piece of trash on every level. Heavy Metal takes its lurid visual style from the "adult" science-fiction magazine of the same name, a bombastic picture book which ominously hints that the wordless world of "Fahrenheit 451" may indeed be just around the corner. Like its printed namesake, the movie is a collection of tales, ranging from futuristic farce to sword-and-sorcery violence. Taken individually, not one builds to a meaningful or even suspensefull climax. Taken as a group, unified by a garbled "frame tale," they are simply incoherent. And have women ever been treated quite this viciously in a "mainstream" live-action film? Let's hope the stylized nature of cartooning doesn't become just another excuse for new atrocities committed in the name of imagination.

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