So I don’t think I’d be popping anybody’s cheery with sharing Don Hertzfeldt’s spectacular ‘Rejected,’ we all knew that perma-stoned doofus in high school whose spoon was too big and who liked to remind you of it, HOWEVER, what most people don’t realize is that the 2000 short film was nominated and WON that year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
The film accounts, through an artist’s own work, his disillusionment by repeated rejections and commercial failures, and eventual descent into madness.
I admire Hertzfeldt enormously for his exploration of the science of humour, and especially the dangerous line between acceptable and scandal, ‘cool’ and ‘so not cool’. This is a line he dances, treads a toe to one side or the other, and then back again. In interview he describes discovering in the editing phase how whether something is funny or not can come down to the time difference of a few individual frames. He says he enjoys finding out what he can get away with, that something shocking is initially funny and then loses its effect by dragging too long, or can anger the audience, but then become funny simply by pushing it so long and far it enters the realm of the absurd. Hertzfeldt said one thing you notice at any of his screenings at film festivals in laughter booming, then fading to dead silence, then growing again. I sure remember working at Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club and being exposed to a ton of this process, and when Jon Dore told the single best miscarriage joke I’ve ever heard, it was much the same.