A toupee away from true love? A tapeworm away from the perfect body? And a recessive gene away from more than just rungs up the societal ladder? Like so many, Antonio finds the disappointments in his life explained away with just one glance in a mirror: He’s fat, bald and short. It’s a foregone conclusion that he works at a job that is as depressing as his life, right? In Carlos Osuna’s first feature film, Fat, Bald, Short Man, we see that for some of us, we are just one…or two or three wrong excuses away from happiness.
The protagonist, Antonio, works as a notary in an office. He sinks though his day as if he’s succumbed to defeat. This is especially so when confronted with an office bully. This is not a tale of carpe diem. Instead, it’s painfully quotidian, much like Harvey Pekar’s character in American Splendor. Both stories lack a superhero in a cape, and yet, there is something very heroic, albeit very ordinary, about the main character who succeeds even if it is in saving himself.
And so, we have a sweet man with too much skin in all the wrong places and not enough height to carry his ample weight become dark premises in his even darker life. Antonio experiences his own physicality as an argument against happiness. How can one rebut one’s own body? Cue: Fatter, balder, shorter, highly successful and happy boss–Señor Enriquez.
This boss might as well not have a name. To Antonio, Enriquez is an iconoclasm. Like a flasher in the night, he exposes a naked, uninhibited truth. Or at least it’s as jarring as a flasher. Once Antonio realizes that this man represents all that is mistaken in his life, the boss also represents something more powerful than flab, male pattern baldness and vertical challenges; the boss represents hope for the future.
As hope is apt to do, Antonio becomes inspired into creativity and begins to experiment. Here and there, he dapples in new relationships as well as new versions of himself. I can’t help but think that because this is an animated tale, we are somehow more freed up to empathize. If it’s not animation, you have a real people playing the parts. This also means you have all the baggage that comes with that. An animated version of this tale means the mind is freed up to project, to get in touch with the Jungian Archetype, the fat, bald short man in each of us…if we can stretch the idea a bit. It’s a philosophical point, but in this golden age of animation care of Pixar and now Osuna, something has been happening in cinema that needs to be talked about more.
Bottom Line: This is a dazzling rotoscoped animation that feels mischievous, sad and triumphant.