4/21/08

Max the Hero

(2007, Animation/Comedy/Action-Superhero, color)

This Salisbury steak tastes like twenty Salisbury steaks to me.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

The eponymous Max gains superpowers from a years-old sandwich.

Watch the cartoon here.

Summary:

After the nitroglycerin-infused racoon, a fire-retardant chicken is the next logical step.Mad genius Stu (Mike Nelson) tests his latest inventions on his ultra-nerdy roommate Chip (Kevin Murphy). Chip acknowledges the inventions’ success (the smokable coffee stains his fingers and the drinkable cigarette gives him the runs) but wonders why Stu can’t devote his scientific prowess to more impressive ends.

The arrival of their third roommate interrupts this line of thought. The rather unpleasant Max (Bill Corbett) flies into the room, crashing right through the wall. When queried about his new superpowers, he relates a long-ish story about lightning, toxic waste and a mystic convocation of mythical gods, but since he went out of his way to avoid them all, it boils down to the sandwich he ate when he got home. Stu notes that the sandwich was a) his and b) several years old, further hypothesizing that the composition of the sandwich had aged in just such a way as to give its consumer vast, otherworldly powers. As Max goes to bed, Chip notes how calm Stu is taking this, as the sandwich should rightfully have been eaten by Stu.

Next morning, Chip takes Max out to catalog his new powers, which include the usual: flight, strength, x-ray vision and so on, as well as a super sense of taste and super hair-growing-out-of-his-ears. But his old weaknesses are now super-weaknesses. He is now, for instance, super lactose intolerant. Chip is so overjoyed at Max’s new superhero status (and his own new position as sidekick) that he bursts into song. Max backhands him into the stratosphere.

Max proves his prowess to the supermarket-going masses.Meanwhile, Stu has been working on a new invention—the atomic powered hat! He wants to show it off to Chip, but Chip brushes him off to hang out with Max. Max reminds Stu that it’s his turn to clean the sink trap and leaves. Stu cleans the sink trap while he stews and frets about Max, finally descending into jealous madness.

Max goes to bed and wakes up a week later—his tendency to sleep in has now become super sleeping in. Having lost his job due to super tardiness, he wanders the streets to look for freelance hero work. After an attempt to find a lost cat turns tragic (he vaporizes it accidentally) Max is suddenly confronted by a giant robotic octopus-clown.

Stu emerges from the top of the device (alternately called both an Octoclown and a Clownopus) to cackle and monologue. Max laughs at the many-armed abomination’s first attempts to subdue him, but then Stu reveals the milk cows strapped to each tentacle. Caught in a spray of his own mortal weakness, Max collapses to the sidewalk. Chip arrives to congratulate Stu on his new supervillain-hood and burst into song. Stu endures this for a very short period of time before throwing a cow at him. Max and Stu share a hearty laugh at Chip’s injury and decide to renew their friendship by going home to watch their favorite TV show. Chip emerges from beneath the cow to tell them that the show ended an hour ago, so Max circles the earth until it starts to spin backwards. The abrupt reversal of the earth’s rotation causes fires, floods, eruptions and general catastrophe.

Thoughts:

You didn't think I'd let this review end without a shot of this little beauty, did you?Wow. That’s a lot of summary for a twelve-minute cartoon. Lots of stuff happening, but it doesn’t feel perfunctory and it’s funny as hell. Interesting choice to make the villain more sympathetic than the hero and his sidekick, but it works and, hey, it’s a comedy. I laughed at it, and this is all that is important. The drawings are a bit crude but the animation is fluid and the writing is sharp. Of course it is, with Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy both writing and performing the characters of this twelve-minute cartoon. Mike Salva produced and directed, with music by John Mark Painter and the provocatively named Corn Mo. So head on down and watch it already!