A Year of Shorts Day 217: "The Big Snit"
Despite the fact that the constant threat of nuclear war was very real and terrifying, it certainly spawned a lot of great comedies. The most notable of these was, of course, Dr. Strangelove, one of the funniest movies ever made. But while I typically roll my eyes at such sentiments, you simply couldn’t make movies like that today. Can you imagine such an utterly absurdist comedy about climate change? No one would see it! Still, perhaps we can take a lesson from the past and learn that sometimes it’s ok to laugh to keep ourselves from shitting our pants. Case in point- Today’s 1985 short, The Big Snit.
The Big Snit is a production from the National Film Board of Canada directed by Richard Condie. The last time we covered a Condie film I had a lot of less-than-nice things to say about it. And at first glance, The Big Snit, a story about an argumentative married couple playing Scrabble on the day of a nuclear war, certainly has a lot in common with that short. Between the rough and intentionally ugly style of animation and the abrasive sense of humor, one could be forgiven for thinking I wouldn't like it either. And yet, as always, execution is everything. While those elements were pretty obnoxious when paired with random nonsense were incredibly aggravating, just a little bit of discipline can make a world of difference.
On the 1994 poll of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time, The Big Snit ranked 25th, which isn't too surprising. Condie's sense of humor is that nice combination of dark and incredibly random; watching The Big Snit is like watching a Far Side comic come to life. And the short shows he has a flair for dialogue, too. Marital arguments can be hard to make funny, which makes it a bit risky to place one at the center of your film. Adding on top of that the fact that they're arguing about eye shaking and table sawing, and that's a pretty difficult needle to thread. But thread it he does, with the weirdly naturalistic speech patterns contrasting nicely with the ridiculous dialogue and silly voices. It's hard to say why it works, but it does.
Which honestly sums up the entire film pretty well. There's a lot about The Big Snit which would normally rub me the wrong way. And yet there's just something about it that I really like. Maybe it's my dark sense of humor. Maybe it's the weirdly sweet ending and genuine heartfelt nature of the short. Or maybe I'm just inconsistent and impossible to track down. Personally, I'm hoping it's all three!
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