Don Hertzfeldt’s Wisdom Teeth
In honor of my screening Everything Will Be OK in my film 201 class today — Don Hertzfeldt is a genius. He’s best known as the crass mastermind behind the ridiculous and brilliant Rejected, a collection of “commercials” that devolve into absurdity before collapsing on their own non-sequiters. That particular short was much-loved in my early university days, but at the time, I don’t think any of us really appreciated the genius of its later half — the techniques that Hertzfeldt uses to break down his cartoon world are as innovative as any contemporary animation, and earned Rejected the honor of being probably the only Oscar-nominated short to feature a character drowning in a flood of blood from his own anus. Classy stuff.
After Rejected, Hertzfeldt got pseudo-respectable, still indulging in absurdity but mixing it with the profound, never to better effect than Everything Will Be OK, an exploration of mental illness that serves as his crowning achievement. But Wisdom Teeth is a throwback to Hertzfeldt’s early work — say, Billy’s Balloon or Rejected. It’s sadistic, crude, grotesque and downright dumb, which makes it all the more loveable. Enjoy.