2011 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL SXFANTASTIC SELECTION!
There was a time when dirty, experimental cartoons were groundbreaking. “Beavis and Butthead” broke underground music with their video commentary and became a scapegoat to teen pyros across America. “Aeon Flux” made not having a spine sexy, as she sexed her way around her weird, dystopian universe. “The Maxx”…did whatever it is he did. “Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation Festival” fliers popped up in every coffee shop and rock club. Certain kids sneaked downstairs after their parents were asleep to enjoy these titillating cartoon wonders, the likes of which they’d never seen. But once “South Park” stopped shocking people on a weekly basis and “Family Guy” became a prime time hit, edgy cartoons just didn’t seem that edgy anymore. That’s why it’s always refreshing when somebody decides to kick it old school. “Jez Jerzy (George the Hedgehog)” could easily be an outtake from the “Liquid Television” days. There’s nothing like a cartoon about a degenerate hedgehog to make you feel all warm and fuzzy.
Based on a Polish comic book of the same name, George is an anthropomorphic hedgehog who drinks constantly, skateboards and has sex with human women. He does these things without much moral objection from the world around him. They seem to resent him more for his luck with the ladies and total disregard for social decorum, than his participation in bestiality. Given that the urban hedgehog’s natural enemy seems to be The Skinhead, there may be some civil metaphors at play here too.
George’s carefree life is turned upside-down when an evil scientist clones him, in an attempt to create the ultimate marketing machine. The scientist plans to make George an Internet sensation, allowing him to control corporate commerce, popular culture and possibly even the Polish government. He hires a couple of skinheads to whack the real George so that he can’t expose the clone. It just so happens that these skinheads already have a beef with George. Fortunately for George, these henchmen are bumbling at best and fail in their mission. They do, however, manage to leave their mark, rendering George out of commission long enough for things to get pretty wacky. When he comes to, George finds himself in a case of mistaken identity. With the help of a busty, baritone prostitute, he must race to clear his name and save Poland. All the while, George farts, drinks, humps, fondles, wisecracks and makes feeble attempts to win back an old flame, now married. It’s a ridiculous plot; one that echoes Louis C.K.’s “Pootie Tang” and recalls Spuds MacKenzie (and Slurms MacKenzie!). For the record, I mean that as a compliment.
There are probably Poland-specific jokes that will be lost on an American audience (I couldn’t identify them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there). What is evident, however, is how much American culture has affected Poland. It almost feels like an alternate American universe. Don’t worry, though. This film won’t make you think too hard. The social commentary mostly stays out of the way of the raunchy jokes and cartoon boobs. Dirty cartoons had their renaissance, but it’s nice to see a small revival in the form of “Jez Jerzy.” It’s crudely animated in the best possible way, depraved, graphic, funny and just the thing for late-night viewing.
Originally published on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).