George the Hedgehog Review [SXSW 2011]
This bizarre adult animated film out of Poland premiered at Austin’s SXSW Film Festival last week. George the Hedgehog (Jez Jerzy) sported some really messy, almost childish, animation while dealing with a libido-driven, skateboarding hedgehog and his flatulent clone.
Ok, after that set up you’re probably wondering what the hell kind of film this is. It’s like a cartoon for pervs, but with some great humor and satire. There are tons of skimpily clad women with humongous boobs and a hedgehog they can’t get enough of. George is a sexual dynamo, and he’s never had a problem getting women. Maybe that’s because he’s the only orgasm-inducing hedgehog around, or maybe because he’s really cool and strangely resilient to all attempts to destroy him. He turns out a sort of anti-hero, always saving people without even meaning too.
George is living the good life. He’s got a married mistress, he rides his skateboard round and parties hard at night. His life takes a turn for the worse when a mad scientist decides to clone him. The problem is, the scientist is determined to kill the original George, and make his clone into a world-famous superstar that he can control and make millions off of. The fact that George’s clone is a retarded, uglier version of him that can’t stop humping everything (electric sockets, people’s legs, George’s girlfriend, the wall) doesn’t stop the world from embracing it, and before long he is a huge celebrity.
Meanwhile, the scientist’s thugs are still after George, who gets hurt and then is taken in by a cross-dressing prostitute. He/she nurses George back to health, and he decides to take on his clone, the scientists and the thugs all by himself.
Some scenes popped up that made me think maybe I was dismissing the film too quickly. I saw a few flashes of rather mature satire, and an homage or two to genre films. There’s one scene worth mentioning where George’s clone runs into a sex shop. He goes crazy (no doubt sensory overload) and humps the electrical box on the wall, thus sending the store up in a blaze. The heat fills the blow-up dolls and they begin floating up into the city sky, an army of inflatable sex toys flying through the air. The great part of this scene is the ominous Hitchcockian music that plays, the people on the street cringing in terror as the shadows reach over them, the darkened silhouettes moving slowly by overhead, and the random doll running into a church’s rooftop cross and popping.
George’s character is funny and pulls some laughs, but mostly of the ‘I can’t believe he just did that’ kind. The juxtaposition between what George is doing and what he looks like is interesting. He’s drawn rather cutsie, like a stuffed animal or something. Then he goes around acting like a chauvinistic, beer-drinking punk. There are plenty of moments like that in the film, where the animation tends toward an almost childish cuteness, while the characters are participating in some vulgar (to say the least) behavior.
Audiences are treated to some character development, though the plot is so simple as to be almost superfluous; simply a vehicle for the dark humor, animation techniques and satire. George does come to some realizations about his life, and has a moment where he “grows up” and decides to take charge of things. His clone doesn’t fare as well, and that character is like a hedonistic representation of the id in all of us. What happens to the clone in the end is almost a comment on clean living.
I guess what I took away from this movie, besides relief that it was over, was a little grudging respect for director Wojciech Wawszczyk and writer Rafal Skarzycki for making a feature-length dirty cartoon about a womanizing hedgehog that was bizarre enough to be entertaining. The foul-language, clumsy/messy animation and gross violence makes George the Hedgehog feel like a satirical black comedy cartoon (think Ren & Stimpy) drawn by a 13-year-old with ADD. There’s also some jibes at politicians, the ethics of cloning, celebrity worship, and some not-so-subtle satire on pop culture. That being said, it’s not a film that will leave you thinking any deep thoughts.
The amateurish animation and excessive vulgarity is a turn off, and the light-weight plot/storyline doesn't help matters either.