Family Day

Date: Saturday, 10/18/2008
Time: 11:00 am

Venue: AFI Silver
Tickets: $10 Buy tickets online

Type: Collection of short films

Metro Weekly Rating: starstarstar (3 out of 5)

WELL, THIS IS a nice idea, one that should be encouraged as a future Reel Affirmations tradition: a collection suitable for kids aged 2 to 8. Just its inclusion points to the change in our GLBT lives, as more and more of us embrace parenthood as a norm.

It's just that, well... if only the material on hand were a few notches -- or even just a notch -- better.

It would be like shooting fish in a barrel to be brutally dismissive of Dottie's Magic Pockets (triangletriangletriangle), which is kind of like a poor man's Pee Wee's Playhouse. Dottie (Jen Plante) cavorts with her friends James the Flower, Randal the Beaver, Motilda the Mouse, Uncanny the Singing Can, and Wally the Wall (personified by, I kid you not, jazz hands), as they sing perky songs about the weather and cope with issues like identity and putting an end to hiccups (and the big, sticky balls apparently produced by hiccups).

Occasionally director Andrea Maxwell cuts to a shot of live barnyard chickens, prompting Dottie to exclaim, ''Look at the chickens! They like being chickens!'' Yeah, sure they do, Dot, until they end up in the wrong side of a KFC bucket.

There are so many odd things wrong with Dottie's Magic Pockets, it's impossible to count. Patty, a talking pat of butter, for instance, looks more like an omelet gone extremely wrong. And Uncanny the Can's long, red, undulating tongue is just plain disturbing. But 3-year-olds probably won't notice the quality issues. (Or maybe they will.) At least, the show's heart is in the right place, and its onslaught of positive messages can't be imparted at too young an age.

Maybe it's no coincidence Dottie's Magic Pockets was written and conceived by Tammy Stoner. How apropos. Given the surreal nature that Dottie shares with Pee Wee and such '70s kids classics as H.R. Pufnstuf, you may feel the urge to watch from a hallucinogenic haze. Bake yourself some special brownies and enjoy Dottie's Magic Pockets in a much different magical light. Just don't share those brownies with the kids on hand.

Also playing: Buddy G, My Two Moms and Me (triangletriangle), a clunky, awkward CGI animated short about a boy with, as the title says, two moms. When he and his friend lose one of his mom's special rings, everyone comes together for a search of the back yawn... er, yard. The mundane Tomboy (triangletriangle) is a storybook-influenced animated short about gender identification that's also playing in the Women's Shorts program entitled ''Funny Girls.''

More information

Festival Venue:

AFI Silver
8633 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD. (301) 495-6720. (map)
Near corner of Colesville Road and Georgia Ave. Across from Silver Spring Red Line Metro stop.

Tickets:

For individual tickets and festival passes, visit www.reelaffirmations.org. Tickets are also available at the door of each showing. For more information, call 202-986-1119 or visit www.reelaffirmations.org.


For more info visit the official Reel Affirmations website.