Directed by Aaron Weinstein
Starring Aaron Weinstein, Charles Bush
Animated Film Review by Brian Degning (@brian_degning)
Say What! is a short film which follows a young jazz musician, also our narrator, attempting to ward off the advances of various members of the public, mostly elderly ladies, who either constantly remind him how young he looks or tell him they have the ‘right girl’ for him.
Told via voiceover, with animation by Bob Zeiring, the film has a strong script and like all great short films keeps the story tight and builds to a nice conclusion. Almost like a joke told by a stand-up comedian, the script has a fantastic way of circling back to the beginning to maximize the punchline while giving the viewer larger than life caricatures of the people around him.
Visually Say What! looks gorgeous too, editing together various wonderfully rendered stills in such a seamless way that it never feels cheap or boring. With a series of penciled sketches cast against a white background it shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does and helps identify with the artistic creativity of the narrator. The images are underpinned by an equally effective light jazz score, creating a sense of being right in the room as the poor musician is being hounded by the rich, carnivorous grannies who are determined to marry him off to some relative or another.
The film looks great, sounds fantastic, is edited together well and has a good script. So, what’s not to like? The whole film rest on the delivery and voice work of the narrator and sadly it is easily the most disappointing aspect of the film. Coming across very one note, borderline smug, the narrator’s voice simply did not capture the interest and as a result the jokes, while well written, fell flat. In a film like this there must be complete engagement and sympathy with our main character but that connection isn’t there. Instead there was a distance and a feeling that the material deserved better delivery.
One other curious decision was in the casting of a male actor to voice the other characters, who are mostly elderly females. This may have been the intent, to make it appear like the narrator was recounting the events to us but, sadly, there isn’t enough difference in tone to really separate the characters from one another and feels like an opportunity to add some much-needed variety was wasted.