The Tune (1992)
The Tune (1992)

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, and Musical Running Time: 1 hr. 9 min.

Release Date: September 4th, 1992 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Bill Plympton Actors: Daniel Neiden, Maureen McElheron, Marty Nelson, Emily Bindiger, Chris Hoffman, Jimmy Ceribello, Ned Reynolds




el (Daniel Neiden) sits at his piano, pounding out notes and singing rhymes, hoping for an inspiration. But he’s hit a roadblock in his writing, unable to land that perfect tune. When his sweetheart Didi (Maureen McElheron, who also did the music for the film), a secretary for music producer Mr. Mega (Marty Nelson), calls to check in on his progress, he’s abruptly informed that the rotund, rude executive is all out of patience. Del is given an ultimatum: he has 47 minutes to come up with a hit – or he’ll face the unemployment line.

Bill Pympton’s animation style is sensational, making full use of funnily grotesque character designs and exaggerated voices. As with his other works, the imaginativeness runs rampant, manifesting itself in the form of dreams, hallucinations, and all manner of odd imagery. When Del comes across a stranger on the way into town to meet his deadline, audiences are introduced to the denizens of Flooby Nooby, which not only provides a great tune, but also offers up plenty of opportunities for outrageous concepts – the kind that brilliantly play with perceptions and expectations (a pilgrimage for warped artistry).

“Don’t you know? Perspective is a myth!” Creatures change shapes, characters daydream in metamorphosing environments, awkward family portraits transition across a woeful song, and the all-knowing Gus (who changes people’s lives) spouts hysterically nonsensical bits of wisdom while his head and body mutate into incredibly creative yet horrifying scenarios of madness – the kind surely brought on by powerful drugs. Even the animation style changes in color and design to emphasize feelings, or just to demonstrate Pympton’s knack for distortive representations of figures and form (several sequences are included solely for the comedy of mutilative, bodily destruction and deconstruction).

“The Tune” is also a musical, so songs punctuate – or inspire – the various sequences of outlandish, anthropomorphized foodstuff, or an Elvis-impersonating dog, or elaborate nightmares, or the rhythmic chatter of conversations. Despite the simplicity of the plot, there’s time for asides at the homicidal/suicidal Love Sick Hotel, where additional songs crop up as atrocious demises present themselves, as well as a cab ride during which the driver relates his sordid romance with a giant nose (crooning the sing-along-song of the “No Nose Blues”). Even a phone call at the beginning of the film utilizes amusing parallels of behaviors and mistreatment, like a slapstick routine. The entire film (essentially a collection of shorts connected by a loose storyline) is a wonder of music and surreal visuals, frequently smushed together in entertainingly perverse ways.

– Mike Massie

  • 8/10