Indie-mation, Reviews, Shorts

[Review] Oscar Nominated Shorts: ‘Pear Cider and Cigarettes’

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Pear Cider and Cigarettes is a very different kind of short than we are used to, both stylistically and narratively. The short plays like a radio documentary that has been set to animation, but the animation trades a lot of motion for a heavily stylized look that makes the final product seem more like a half hour long motion comic, rather than an actual animated short.

This short has a very unique design, thanks mainly to Robert Valley, the writer/designer/director of the short. Some of Valley’s previous credits include his work on the band Gorillaz’ music videos, as well as his character design work on the Disney XD series Motorcity and Tron: Uprising, the styles of which all bear more than a passing resemblance to the look of this short.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes tells the story of Techno Stypes, a friend of Valley, who has led a very hard life and had many terrible experiences, all of which are completely his own fault. Techno is a very self-sabotaging individual, and after years of partying, smoking, and drinking, he finds himself in dire need of a new liver. With no one in the states willing to donate him a new one, and Techno “on his last legs,” he goes to China to find someone willing to operate on him.

At the request of Techno’s father, Valley finds him in China, and ends up staying far longer than he’d planned, trying to get him to quit drinking, while they wait until an acceptable liver donor dies. The short follows their day to day lives as Techno goes downhill, both before and after he finally receives his operation.

This short is not a fun story, it’s not even a very moving story, because it’s hard to feel sorry for Techno, who is not really a good person. The only person I felt for during this whole thing was Valley, who is pulled into this mess because of Techno’s selfishness. This short is however, very interesting to look at and, at times, very compelling.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes deserves some recognition for its character design and for its writing, which – despite the subject matter – is still well done. However, were I in charge of the Oscars, I would not have given it a nomination, as there is nothing really new or groundbreaking here. It’s an interesting character study, but not really anything more. The animation is nothing special at all, and the story didn’t move me. Nothing about the short compelled me to re-watch it, nor did it make me want to recommend it to anyone.

If you like short subject character studies, and don’t mind a main character with no redeeming qualities, then by all means check this short out. It is not bad, it’s just not fun, and has little replay value for me, personally.

Have you seen Pear Cider and Cigarettes? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Jonathan North

Jonathan North is an advertising and design student at Iowa State University. He has been an animation fan since he was a kid watching Fantasia at his grandparents' house. He is a huge fan of animated television, and his current favorite series’ are Steven Universe and Adventure Time.
  • Rachel Wagner

    Yeah I would have gone with Inner Workings or Foxed instead of this. It’s too long also. If it was 15 minutes it might be more tolerable

    • Totally agree. Also it kind of felt to me like they threw it in just so they could have one “Adult” short in the mix. Like the adult language and situations were the only reason it got nominated. I don’t know. I really don’t understand what was so special about it. It wasn’t bad per say, it just wasn’t that good.