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Laughter Without Borders is a collection of nine short films, and one short documentary, from around the world as part of the Worldwide Short Film Festival. They range in subject matter from incest, aging and unexplained supernatural occurrences. With some familiar faces and pleasing newcomers this group of films tests the boundaries of comedy and explores the hilarity of the ridiculous. This selection screens on Saturday June 4 at 9:30 pm at the Royal Ontario Museum.

4 Pounds

Starring and written by Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall fame this short film explores the irrational fears of an aging actor obsessed with his weight. This is one of two films by Josh & Robi Levy during this presentation.

4 Pounds follows Thompson as he battles with his own neurosis, which begins as a simple, if somewhat irrational, concern about his weight, becoming more and more surreal as the film goes on. There are some funny moments in the film, but it fails to hit with the hilarity of Thompson’s former comedy. The film is reminiscent of the newer Kids in the Hall work, more weird than funny.

Family First

Family First centers around Rob and Ashley who have an announcement to make to make which is more disturbing than anyone could imagine.

This film felt like a simple idea that didn’t have the depth and complexity to work even as a short skit. The payoff to the gag is more disturbing than funny and the reactions are predictable and unimaginative. It felt like a Saturday Night Live sketch that would be put near the end of the show.

Capturing Santa

Co-written and narrated by Chris O’Dowd of Bridesmaids fame, this film tells the tale of a young boy who wants to get revenge on Santa after years of neglect and embarrassment at the hands of the jolly old elf.

Capturing Santa was a funny, charming and enjoyable short. The situations hilariously unfolded and the reactions of the characters are fresh and unexpected. The idea of the film is well realized creating a short film that should become a Christmas staple.


Another look into the irrational mind of an aging actor. The second offering by Josh & Robi Levy and starring Scott Thompson.

This film was funnier than the first with unexpected twists and well timed surprises. It is just as surreal as 4 Pounds , but presented in an easier to accept dreamlike format. The old ‘waking up from a dream gag’ plays well and its cliché is actually a strength as it is used with a tongue-in-cheek playfulness.

When the Wind Changes

This film follows the strange lives of three down on their luck pontoon boat captains in an arid wasteland in Australia. After a supernatural event two of the men are cursed with a strange affliction.

Richard Davies, David Lawson, Tim Phillips do a fantastic job as the oddball characters. The comedy is original and extremely well acted. The sheer anguish of the two blighted characters is so well portrayed and believable despite the uncanny nature of their plight. The situations created by the curse are funny and pathetic leading to a satisfying conclusion.

Arts + Crafts Spectacular #1

This stop-motion animation film is based on an anecdote during an interview with famous collaborative artists Gilbert and George. It is a simple story where expectations are subverted and reinforced. Short and sweet.

This one minute short is a funny story with choppy animation that tells the story of a reluctant trip to the country. It is told well and the slapdash visuals add to the silly, off-the-cuff narrative.

Two’s A Crowd

Two’s a Crowd is a docu-comedy about a couple who, after four years of marriage decide to take the next big step: move in together. The film follows two aging newlyweds from New York as they try to cohabit in their own unique way.

Allen and Collette are the epitome of the adage, “for every shoe there is a mate.” It is hard to believe that they are real people but the fact that they are so strange only proves their authenticity. The film is a journey into a world specially constructed for two people who could only be with each other, no pun intended.

The Dark Side

Is a send up of the Sandra Bullock’s film the The Blind Side . This time, however, the overbearing mom isn’t helping wayward youth but is kidnapping NFL all star Peyton Manning.

Written by Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Myers, The Dark Side is reminiscent of an SNL digital short but lacks the magic of the Lonely Island trio. It is amusing more than funny. Myers stands out as the high school English teacher and Manning holds his own as the frightened and confused abductee.

Brick Novax’s Diary Parts 1 & 2

Tells the tale of Brick Novax, a man amongst men who, after discovering he has two weeks to live, begins recording his adventures for posterity. He tells of his life as an astronaut, business man, singer and house husband.

The film has a cheap Barbie doll feel reminiscent of Robot Chicken, but without the animation. Brick Novax is a cross between Austin Powers and Ron Burgundy, but is more arrogant and self reflective than funny. The simple sets and retro look are captivating to lose yourself in, but the story is more quirky than anything else.

The Worldwide Short Film Festival runs from May 31 to June 5, 2011. Check their website for showtimes and details.