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April Moon: The Ballad of Johnny West short animated film review

Updated: Mar 25, 2021


Directed by: Jaime April, Jason Moon

Written by: Jaime April, Jason Moon

Starring: Jason Moon, Jaime April, Rosie Ashton, Fearghus O'Sullivan, Miguel Sanchez

Poster for April Moon: The Ballad of Johnny West showing animation.
Poster for April Moon: The Ballad of Johnny West

A Wild West story. An animated musical involving puppetry about a gunslinger arriving at a small town and the effects his presence has on the locals.

Johnny West, a lonesome and quiet man is riding his horse and reaching an isolated settlement, where he is greeted by the residents and their sheriff, while the crooks are against him and decide to get rid of him. Will Johnny manage to defeat the bad guys and live happily ever after with the sheriff's daughter, Penelope?

This short is basically a puppet show and a rather entertaining one too. It is filled with likeable characters, enjoyable music and beautiful settings.

The characters are stick puppets and the creation of April. They were drawn, hand-painted and cut into the required shape, then attached to a stick. They look simple and at the same time look great. Their appearance clearly indicates that they belong in the Wild West.

The backgrounds such as the desert, town and interior settings look like paintings and they were created with a great deal of care and attention to detail. They create a Wild-West feeling and atmosphere.

With the exception of brief narration, the entire narrative is told through lyrics. April and Moon are Canadian musicians and they wrote and recorded all of the songs. Each signing sequence is rather pleasing to the ear and eye, as not only are the numbers' melodies and lyrics fun, it is quite satisfying watching the characters as they dance.

The editing was done effectively, with good use of circle wipe transaction. The filmmakers also utilize title cards, which works well for a Western-themed film.

There is one awkward sequence that involves hallucinations, during which West's figure moves in front of live action footage of streets filled with people. Though it does not spoil the film, it comes across as unexpected and unnecessary.

It should be mentioned that there is some obscene language and a bit of nudity (but not graphic). There is also blood when a character is shot dead.

This achievement had a lot of work and dedication put into it and the end result proves that. It offers twenty minutes of entertainment, where viewers can enjoy, admire and appreciate the songs, story, animation and puppetry and take a trip to the Wild West.



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