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Bill Plympton’s The Tune

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Can you imagine if people hired to write pop songs in the sixties had to go through leaps, bounds, hoops and obstacles in order to deliver one that was perfect? The deluge of girl groups and pop acts that were prevalent fifty years ago thanks to writers like Barry Gordy, Burt Bacharach, Carole King, and even Lou Reed, probably would’ve quit and gone on to something else—like starting Motown or the Velvet Underground. Ok, so those things actually happened; but years after their jobs as songsters-for-hire, some of the most recognizable pieces of music continued to be written and created and have since become American staples.

Del, the protagonist in Bill Plympton’s animated feature, The Tune, is himself a songwriter. Feeling the pains and pressures of producing a hit song (that the aforementioned writers could definitely relate to), his jerky, mean-spirited boss, Mr. Mega, has threatened to fire Del unless he writes the perfect tune. Poor guy, huh? Of course things continue to worsen as Del, rushing to work in fear that his job might be severed, finds himself lost and confused on a clover leaf highway, ending up in a town called Flooby Nooby. Ah, imagination. But with the help of a nose-less cab driver, a bellhop who is legally insane, and an Elvis-obsessed canine, Del’s writers block is soon relieved and song-writing perfection ensues. Hooray!

Even 20 years later, The Tune remains a classic tidbit of historic animation (and probably the only Plympton toon that’s kid-safe) that generation after generation will appreciate. Kids who show a keen interest in animation–and those who appreciate a well-written tune (there’s about 10 of different genres)– will enjoy the unique illustrations and catchy songs throughout the film while familiarizing themselves with bosses they should never work for.

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