Starting Friday, Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry offers the U.S. premiere of Extra-Large Shorts, a six-pack of short films coinciding with a new exhibit on the animation process.
Coinciding doesn't necessarily mean complementing, though. While the animation exhibit is squarely aimed at children — Cartoon Network helped develop it — Extra-Large Shorts is sophisticated stuff likelier to make kids doubt their creativity rather than inspire it.
One of the six minimovies isn't even animated; Norway's Where the Trains Used to Go is live action along a countryside railway, filmed with time lapse photography. Another titled Primiti Too Taa is a simple idea — nonsensical words rhythmically typed and read — that is expanded to incomprehension by the museum's massive, curved IMAX screen.
More successful in the format are Pandorama, a hectic mixed media exercise; Falling in Love Again with its silly free-fall romance while Marlene Dietrich sings; and More, a tale of lost bliss from Kung Fu Panda director Mark Osborne.
Each film runs six minutes or less except the gorgeous finale, Alexandr Petrov's 1999 Academy Award winner The Old Man and the Sea. Hand-painted with oils on glass, Petrov nails the macho essence of Ernest Hemingway's classic story of an aging Cuban fisherman and the big one that gets away because nature has other plans.
At 22 minutes, The Old Man and the Sea comprises more than half of Extra-Large Shorts' running time. Considering the hit-and-miss nature of the other five works, that isn't a bad thing.