The Best Things in Life . . . | Chicago Reader

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Twelve animated and live-action videos, their lessons softened by humor and whimsy. Two deal with E-commerce: in Amanda Cardo's Canadian Buy Buy Bill a beaver becomes a credit-card junkie, ordering things on-line in response to amusingly dumb commercials, and in Phoebe Middleton-Newell and Stuart Cunningham's Australian Hot Chunks: Sea Monkeys animated “chunks” order monkey pets that immediately attack them, using one as a basketball and ultimately forcing them to take refuge in the monkeys' cage. In The Horror of Kindergarten, by Canadian Jeff Stearns, a scared kid being hauled off to school by his dad speaks in florid literary language about being “at the mercy of incomprehensible circumstances.” From the Netherlands, Camiel Schouwenaar's Puppetry shows a puppet flying with paper wings, but the hands manipulating him are clearly visible, their crude artifice reminding us that kids' make-believe doesn't require slick illusionism. Michael Robinson's Open a Door: Kevin is an effective tale of anger defused: a mom glares at her son as he plays in the rain, but after she's splattered by a passing scooter, her rage breaks into laughter, and the kids join in. 88 min.

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