The Tune

Institute History

  • 1992 Sundance Film Festival


The first fully animated feature by Bill Plympton, independent animator extraordinaire, is a spirited musical that promises to dazzle with its inventiveness and delight with its catchy songs. The Tune tells the story of Del, a struggling, would-be songwriter searching for that perfect melody to catapult him to superstardom and secure his future with Didi, his boss’s browbeaten secretary. Unfortunately he has only forty-seven minutes to come up with that smash hit for dreadful boss Mr. Mega, or face being fired. Struggling to think of words that will just rhyme, let alone make a catchy tune, Del’s frustration peaks when he rushes to his meeting, loses his way and winds up in Flooby Nooby. In this bizarre musical town, our hero encounters an astonishing array of characters, including the town’s mayor; a hip-swiveling, canine Elvis impersonator; a noseless cab driver who sings the blues; and dance-crazed surfers, all of whom can intuitively whip out a tune on request. Del even meets the town’s New Age guru, who offers the oddest form of advice, in a hilariously cryptic scene, so he can acquire the wisdom he needs to write his show-stopping hit for Mr. Mega before time runs out.

The Tune is a remarkable accomplishment: the thoroughly independent, three-year effort of a handful of individuals. Its ten songs, the marvelous creations of Maureen McElheron, are brilliant tributes to American music, each one composed in a different musical style. As with Plympton’s short films, The Tune’s distinctive illustrative style and curious characters reflect his sardonic wit. A smashingly original, feature-length comedy filled with outrageous animation, singing and dancing, The Tune offers a rare treat for anyone looking for an evening of toe-tapping music and fun.

— Alberto Garcia

Screening Details

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