REVIEW: Logorama [2009]

“No feeding the animals, grrr”

I don’t care if the story is weak, the gimmick is copyright infringement, or the subject matter crass and off-the-wall—H5’s animated short Logorama is a helluva great time. With all the safe bets that went into this year’s Oscar nominees, the fact this 17-minute film was even included sheds some light on its inventiveness. Do not go trying to find the full piece to show your young kids, though; just because it’s a cartoon does not make it family-friendly. Between disgruntled cops, played by the Michelin Men; smarmy creeps looking to pick up ladies courtesy of Mr. Pringles; and a homicidal, psychopath in gun-toting, profanity-laced Ronald McDonald, this ain’t your clean and sterile spoof of those commercials you so easily change channels during. No, the creators have done something else, namely showing us how prevalent consumer culture is in our daily lives. We are surrounded by corporate logos and icons so thoroughly that seeing them make up Los Angeles in its entirety doesn’t even seem strange.

I don’t know if the filmmakers created some sort of algorithm, but the attention to detail is amazing. Every cross section of street is laid over with a watermarked Atari logo, each crosswalk is a logo for Walker something-or-other, citizens are depicted by AOL’s yellow messenger, and butterflies Windows’ colorful creature. The repetition of everyday objects like this become white noise, quickly evolving into the things they are placeholders for. It doesn’t take long for the Afri Cola logos to become trees, nor the Energizer powerstrips to dissolve into streetlamps. This stuff is so ingrained that we don’t even notice unless we pause and look for them. Capitalism has made us live amongst symbols and branding as though they were a part of nature instead of manmade marketing. One thing is for sure, the simple fact it all is so natural proves how effective whomever is behind each company’s advertising and that they deserve a raise.

Logorama is not out to win any screenwriting awards or make its audience connect with a character to empathize with. This film is a fun little jaunt into the mainstream public’s inner psyche, opening their eyes to how much of their life is made up of product placement or to keep them closed for those watching without the sense of irony so obviously on the surface. I could play this short on continuous repeat for hours just trying to spot all the subtle inclusions that may be missed if one watches the story rather than the scenery. I’m not saying that the story is completely worthless, however, because it is actually very, very funny. To me, the best way to experience what these Frenchmen have done is to watch it first for the cinematic qualities of humor and plot, but then have all subsequent viewings concern the 2,500 plus logos/icons/graphics that serve as the structure for every single piece of the film. And again, it’s not even worthwhile to just point out the corporations being depicted; you really need to understand the transparency at which they are used to stand in for our world—so effective because, honestly, it is our world.

A winding road created from the Vaio font, an earthquake-caused crevasse in the shape of Zenith, an Audi expressway overpass, and even a universe made up of Universal and Pepsi planets within a MilkyWay of Subaru stars … it goes on and on. Kudos to the writers for shaping a wildly entertaining plot that does its best to connect it all, also. Sure it may end with a natural disaster engulfing the entire city—it is LA after all—but you have to pay respect to the goofy laughs that precede the carnage that occurs mostly to help cram as many company avatars in as possible. The sheer fun alone of watching Ronald McDonald go on a killing spree with Big Boy as a hostage must have made the burger joint not want to sue, (at least I can’t find any information on whether any lawsuits have been filed for defamation of character). It is in the bystanders that the true hilarity exists, though, especially with the likes of our favorite M&M buddies and an unlucky Mr. Peanut. My favorite part, amongst all the brand names making this a graphic designer’s dream, comes from a field trip to the zoo. We hear the effeminate male tour guide’s voice introducing the kids at the start of their journey, teasing us until we finally can see who is speaking. I always thought that shiny bald man tried a little too hard to seem macho.

Logorama 9/10 | ★ ★ ★ ½

View the film’s website here, for a sneak peak.


4 Thoughts to “REVIEW: Logorama [2009]”

  1. Me

    Yes, they created an algorithm to enhance the detail in the film… it shortly thereafter become cognitive and attempted to write intriguing dialogue for the film. The director then pulled the plug and continued with the lame dialogue as planned.

    Your favorite part is the gay guy? Mine was when the film finally ended. This is a great gag with the logos and pushing “fair use” to its limits, but not a great story. When the gag wears off, all that’s left is a pile of crap.

    1. interesting take …
      yes, the story isn’t rocket science, but it’s a ton of fun.
      and being a graphic designer, watching a film built on a world made up of branding is quite cool. you could read into it about consumer culture and whatnot, but i liked it for the mere fact of its visual structure.

  2. Hannah Semple

    I believe that the lack of a consistent and rational storyline seems to simply be a satirical take on mindless Hollywood blockbusters perhaps?

    1. for sure. the poster says it all—a bunch of action cliches for all to enjoy. and it is about the visuals and the use of logo brands … i don’t think the writers were looking to write Shakespeare, they wanted entertainment.

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