This animated hitchhiking film is a trip, not a journey.
Shayne Ehman, Seth Scriver (Canada, Vanguard)
Tuesday, September 10, 9:45 p.m.
Scotiabank 8 (259 Richmond Street West)
Thursday, September 12, 8:45 p.m.
Scotiabank 13 (259 Richmond Street West)
Friday, September 13, 2:15 p.m.
Scotiabank 4 (259 Richmond Street West)
Asphalt Watches is supposedly based on the true story of how its two directors, Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver, hitchhiked eastward across Canada in the summer of 2000. Watching the results, however, one has to wonder if they were on a trip of a slightly different kind.
The animated film, which follows characters named Bucktooth Cloud and Skeleton Hat, is less Jack Kerouac-esque existentialism and more Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (though its drug of choice would probably be a downer).
With a casually divergent narrative, random food-infused musical asides (probably written when the filmmakers were feeling the munchies), bizarre and crudely drawn animation, and offbeat voice-acting inflections, the film strikes a weirdly discordant tone that intoxicates the senses with occasional delirious aplomb.
However, although the strange ambiance of Asphalt Watches is enjoyable and endearing for a while, the film’s 94-minute running time feels like an overdose. There isn’t enough story or character development to anchor all the oddity on display, and the occasional injections of small-town quirkiness and social commentary are few and far between.
Perhaps like the Salad Fingers phenomenon (which Asphalt Watches is reminiscent of), the material would be better suited to a miniseries.