Friday, June 03, 2016

Hitler’s Folly: Bill Plympton Goes for Broke

If there is ever a sequel to The Last Laugh, Ferne Pearlstein’s documentary about humor and the Holocaust, Bill Plympton is guaranteed to be the focus of an extended sequence. His latest film purports to reveal the untold history of National Socialism, as masterminded by animator and fanboy Adolf Hitler. The best news is it won’t even cost you to get offended. Plympton is releasing the mostly live-action and faux archival footage Hitler’s Folly (trailer here) free on his website, Plymptoons, starting today.

Everyone should know by now Hitler was once an aspiring but tragically mediocre artist. Apparently, he was also quite a fan of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which became Plympton’s jumping off point. (Imagine if Hitler had seen the Kristen Stewart version, but that speculation will have to wait for another film of defiantly questionable taste.) In this alternate universe, Hitler actually became an animator in the Disney tradition, whose grand ambition was to make a four hour animated Nibelungenlied, featuring his poor man’s version of Donald Duck.

In the early days, the oblivious Hitler’s National Animation Cinema Institute (NACI) held their first meet-up in Nuremberg, because that was where Germany’s best comic book store was found. Eventually, he launched a large campaign in France hoping to find the author of the Babar books. Initially, he formed a co-production deal with Stalin, but they had a falling out over foreign markets and subsidiary rights.

Okay, does anyone have a problem with any of that? Surely so, but at least a fair amount of Plympton’s jokes are funny. Even in a post-Sarah Silverman era, this is edgy stuff, but Plympton is really mocking Hitler, making him look ridiculous, much like the Pythons did in innumerable skits. Still, it is always possible David Irving and his like could seize on Folly as a supposedly exculpatory source, but it would only make them look even more foolish.

There are times Plympton takes the joke too far, but you get the feeling making Folly was a giddily liberating experience from him. As if the film needed anymore cult appeal, Dana Ashbrook from Twin Peaks gamely appears as the regular dude who uncovers this secret history. If you are in the mood for transgressive humor, Folly will be tough to beat. If you are easily offended, you should already be avoiding Plympton’s work on general principle. Look, it is funny, often in the worst way imaginable, so partake accordingly. Recommended for Plympton fans, Labour Party officials, and those who enjoy a spot of edginess (bordering on tastelessness), Hitler’s Folly now streams for free on Plymptoons.