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Iron Men

Short film series finds a new home in burgeoning comedy venue

Revisiting the Iron Mule comedy short film series at the 92Y Tribeca (formerly “First Sundays” at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater in the East Village, reviewed 12/5/07) on February 7, hosts Jay Stern’s and Victor Vornado’s banter between movies hadn’t matured much, but the series is continuing to offer gems among its monthly program.

The most accomplished piece, “Puppet Rodeo,” went beyond its surface joke idea -- putting puppets on dog to ride them as if they were rodeo cowboys riding horses, with some dialogue that sounded like the work of gifted sketch writers. One of two hyperbolic puppet announcers at one point exclaims, “This is a chess match … and he’s playing tiddlywinks!” The maker of the short, Kevin Maher, also added in storylines for each of the competitors, adding another dimension to the piece.

Lesser in technical accomplishment, but still entertaining, were a few of the other shorts: The Insur-Animals, an animated parody of health insurance claims hell; Poonitra, a parodic commercial for an imagined anti-depression drug; An Acquired Taste, a documentary of a grown thirty-something downing three pints of Guinness in a row to try to get a taste for it, as his father looks on in a pub; and lastly, Avocado, a sequel to Kumquat, a winning short in the series last year.

Avocado was also simply shot, but got by on its charm. Written and directed by Alan McIntyre Smith revisited a woman’s affair with the titular fruit a year before. The poor kumquat runs into his ex in the park, now with … well, an avocado as her boyfriend. [The effect is achieved with little googly eyes glued to the fruits].

Each month, the Iron Mule organizers offer an audience member a chance to be in a short to be made for the next month’s screening, and this month’s result, “Cashmere Sweater” proved an effective albeit odd parody of the notorious Silence of the Lambs scene where the killer “Buffalo Bill” has imprisoned a young woman in a pit and issuing her instructions about lotion and such.

And only one of the films, “Stop the Barbies!” was out and out poorly shot and acted -- but even that was done in such a way that made it interesting to watch, at least.




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