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  • Brandon MacMurray

I'm Hip Review

I'm Hip, dir. John Musker

It is clear before even pressing play on John Musker’s new project I’m Hip that this is a passion project through and through. The industry titan is known to have written, directed and animated many of our beloved childhood memories such as Moana, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Hercules and Treasure Planet. On a personal note I have fond memories of watching Hercules with my sisters more times than I care to admit, singing along to the soundtrack we all knew by heart.

So when I heard he was releasing his own jazz inspired musical short film my excitement along with my expectation shot up high. Clocking in slightly above the four minute mark, the short plays as a dense, quick, satirical, joyful homage to the medium of animation and to John’s career and the people that he met along the way - many of which are featured in the film.

Four years in the making this project brought John out of retirement and back to the drawing board for the first time in forty years. In order to remain in full creative control John started the production company Scribbly Pictures and self financed the entire short film. Based on a song with the same name, originally written back in the ’60s by Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough, we follow the cat’s desperate attempts to prove to us that he is in fact - hip. At first glance this plays like a vibrant and engaging animated music video. As viewers we quickly get sucked in by the music and rich animation, tapping along with our feet as we dart back and forth to try to keep up with this amusingly quirky cool cat and the chaos that follows its path.

However as you start to peel back the layers it quickly becomes apparent just how much work and effort went into making every frame count. Featuring over 120 caricatured cameos, music and movie references and a blend of animation styles, it is hard not to want to restart the film as soon as the credits wrap up (but don’t skip the credits!).

In an interview with Cartoon Brew John mentioned how the team came up with the idea of using ​​jazz LPs and 45s in the background of a dance sequence, and they decided to label them with parody names of real albums by jazz artists. The whole sequence does not even last five seconds and the main focus is of course on cat and his girlfriend Imogene dancing in the foreground, so in a true blink-or-you’ll-miss-it fashion most viewers will struggle to notice. But it goes to show just how much thought and effort went into enriching the project and building up a layered story worthy of rewatching over and over.

Alongside John worked Talïn Tanielian who is credited as effects animation, color models, editor, compositor, shot supervisor and production manager. Talïn was the expert on the software they used and she had approval on every shot that went into the end result.

John has hinted towards having other projects and ideas he would like to explore going forward, and I truly hope that this is only the beginning for his era as an independent filmmaker and for Scribbly Pictures as a studio.

Review by: Robin Hellgren



The short end of the stick: The inferior part, the worse side of an unequal deal

When it comes to cinema and the Oscars it always feels like short films and getting the short end of the stick. Lack of coverage, lack of predictions from experts and an afterthought in the conversation. With this site we hope to change that, highlighting shorts that stick with you, predictions, and news on what is happening in the world of shorts. 

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