“Get A Horse” – A fun Sherlock Jr. type cartoon where classic Mickey Mouse gets shot out of his B&W world by a Minnie-snatching Peg-Leg Pete through a hole in the movie theater screen and becomes a modern 3D creation. The interaction between the two universes is entertaining, but the character’s color versions are almost too slick and curvaceous. Bonus points for the mini commentary on smart phones in theaters. Grade: B+
“Possessions” – Japanese animation (but not anime) about a wandering repairman who finds shelter from a storm in a house where neglected items have come to life. There’s some annoying singing early, but the story gradually works its charms and one comes to somewhat adore the animate inanimates. Grade: B
“Room on the Broom” – It’s no surprise that this 27 min. British tale, with its quaint storytelling pattern and simple yet pleasant rhymes, is based on a children’s picture book. In it, wayward animals locate a witch’s objects that fall during her flight, then politely request a spot on her mode of transportation, despite the constant “nay” vote from her cat. Narrated by Simon Pegg and featuring Gillian Anderson, Rob Brydon, Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins, and David Walliams, it’s Martin Clunes (a.k.a. Doc Martin) who stands out as a dog who sounds like a kindly homeless man one would speak with for a few minutes at a pub or on the tube. The film may be the best overall of the lot, even if it does skew a little close to 2011 nominee “The Gruffalo”…not that that’s bad company. Grade: A-
“Mr. Hublot” – Stellar animation, easily the most stunning of the nominees, and wonderful imagination in each character detail makes this French steampunk-ish short a winner. The story of a recluse (with numbers on his forehead that occasionally reset) who adopts a stray robo-dog is like a long-lost silent film. Things really get good, and somewhat jarring, when the pet begins to grow and Mr. Hublot has to make some tough decisions. Grade: A-
“Feral” – A hunter attempts to domesticate a wild child found in the woods, all depicted in a hand-drawn style that feels straight out of a Neil Gaiman novel. The situation gets complicated when the boy is placed in societal situations when he’s not quite ready, an ironically appropriate choice since writer/director Daniel Sousa doesn’t present viewers with enough meat before letting the crisis play out. No dialogue here either, and while it’s a welcome challenge to infer a story solely through sounds and action, this particular story needs a little more. Grade: B-
Not rated and I can’t recall anything that would be offensive for children.
The 2014 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Animated) program is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.