Cans Without Labels
Cans Without Labels is a 2019 Kickstarter-funded 11-minute adult animated short created by infamous Canadian animator John Kricfalusi (of The Ren & Stimpy Show fame) that was in development throughout the 2010s. It features characters from his older work The Goddamn George Liquor Program.
The short's troubled production and Kricfalusi's failure to both meet his own deadline and repay all of the backers to his Kickstarter campaign for funding the short were generally discussed more than what little of the short itself was completed. The short's completion was finally announced in August 2017, but the finished short wasn't released until May 27, 2019, two years after it was completed, seven years after production started and eleven years after pre-production began. Besides that, it was also released a year after Kricfalusi's sexual predatory behavior came to light.
At lunchtime, George Liquor (American) gives out several unlabeled cans to his nephews Ernie and Slab, stating that once they open them up, they have to eat whatever is inside of them. However, once they find a disembodied human face inside one of the cans, George orders them to eat the face while he goes to the bathroom or he will whip them with his belt should they refuse to eat it. From this point forward, the short focuses on Ernie and Slab's frantic attempts to get rid of the face behind their uncle's back.
Why It's a Kickstarter Without Quality
- The main problem with this short is that the animation and visuals throughout the short are subpar at best and mediocre at worst - as well as that they're way over-the-top as things move way too fast (especially the camera) - despite being made during almost throughout the 2010s. In addition, several glaring errors were left in as the animation constantly switches from traditional hand-drawn animation to Toon Boom Harmony animation.
- Besides that, the plot of the short itself is very disturbing, nasty and mean-spirited due to the subject matter involving George Liquor ordering his nephews to eat the face or else he'll spank them with his belt, which is cannibalism and abuse. As such, George was heavily flanderized in this short from being a likable patriot who cares about his nephews to being very mean and abusive to them.
- The short also has shoddy voice acting, as it seems like the voice actors all used different microphones. It also sounds like John Kricfalusi has spliced takes of Michael Pataki's original George Liquor voice recordings (particularly when George rants about how "African babies would kill for a nice face") together for the short, though this may be due to Pataki’s death in 2010 (there are even theories that Kricfalusi filled in for lines that Pataki couldn't record due to his death, which explains why George sounds a bit like Ren Höek from The Ren & Stimpy Show near the end).
- The short's aesthetics are overall unnecessarily crude and overly detailed. They try too hard to emulate Kricfalusi's typical off-model and energetic style but fail due to the colors being gaudy and washed-out and the animation being crude and over-the-top.
- In fact, one of the few backgrounds in the short was actually plagiarized from former The Ren & Stimpy Show artist Will Wray.
- The titular cans, tables, chairs, and the backgrounds in the short are animated in CGI, which is odd since Kricfalusi typically doesn't use nor like CGI (seasoned Toon Boom users know that the cans themselves are intended as reference models for the animators to trace over, meaning Kricfalusi effectively used generic assets for the short). In fact, the CGI animation throughout the short is very basic and poorly rendered (making it resemble something out of a high school student's animation project), as well as that it clashes horribly with the 2D hand-drawn character animations to the point where the characters never conform to the 3D objects and backgrounds as they're constantly changing size and shape in relation.
- There are also tons of animation errors scattered throughout the short. These include (but not limited to):
- The George Liquor title card at the beginning of the short was blatantly recycled from “Man’s Best Friend”, the banned George Liquor episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show. As such, it progressively gets blurrier as the camera zooms in on it, indicating that the illustration wasn't edited for this new context.
- In the opening shot, the camera moves so much that George's mouth and nose noticeably shrink.
- In the scene where George yells “Eat! The fucking! FAAAAAACE!!!” (as pictured above), his tongue is seen going through the table.
- In two shots where Cigarettes the Cat is sitting down in front of the table, both the table and the chair he's sitting on are transparent, likely due to Kricfalusi forgetting to turn the opacity on the layer back up before rendering.
- When George gets back from the bathroom and the camera focuses on what is behind him, the only thing that's animated is his left arm and belt due to the rest of his body not moving in any way that could be considered natural (such as being able to briefly see that his left leg doesn't move at all), making it blatantly obvious that he was barely tweened in that scene.
- Near the end of the short, when George walks behind the table after he says "You're good boys!" to Ernie and Slab, he is somehow wearing a light green shirt while he's walking instead of the white tank top throughout the short. The model itself also looks heavily pixelated and blurry, which means that the clip was almost certainly ripped directly from The Ren & Stimpy Show.
- The short even features Kricfalusi's parody of Disney's Donald Duck character named "Donald Bastard", that only existed due to his hatred of Disney just because they don’t have the same beliefs for animation as he does.
- The music in this short constantly shifts every few seconds (the music is merely APM production music from both SpongeBob SquarePants and The Ren & Stimpy Show), and the backgrounds also do the same.
- One scene literally shows George taking a dump; there is another scene where his butt is shown. Yes, seriously.
- In the scene when they celebrate after Donald Bastard eats the face, Ernie and Slab (almost) ”touch tips”, a nod to a far more explicit scene from the infamous short What Pee Boners Are For. Due to Ernie and Slab being brothers, this would be considered incest; fortunately however, their genitals don't touch each other’s.
- Much like Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon", some scenes in this short tend to drag on for too long, resulting in large amounts of filler.
- Terrible ending: After George congratulates Ernie and Slab for eating the face (when it was actually Donald Bastard who ate it, unbeknownst to him), he decides to reward them... by opening yet another unlabeled can, which, of course, reveals something gross inside it. Not wanting to go through the entire ordeal again, Ernie and Slab scream and run out of the house fearfully, and the short just ends there.
- It overall ended Kricfalusi's career as an animator on a sour note.
- Despite the short's mediocre voice acting, Michael Pataki still did a great job as George Liquor himself. Even though Pataki was suffering from cancer (and later died as a result), he still gave it his all in his final voice acting role.
- The short's premise is actually a decent idea on paper (it reached its Kickstarter goal for a good reason) and had the potential to showcase gags about "traditional" parents (Kricfalusi even stated in the short's Kickstarter campaign that his childhood memories of his cheapskate father buying several unlabeled cans served as inspiration for the short), but it wasn't well-executed due to the problems listed above.
- The animation, voice acting, pacing, plot and dialogue throughout the short can all make for unintentional comedy, most notably George's line “Eat! The! Fucking! FAAAAAACE!!!”.
- Ernie, Slab and Cigarettes the Cat are the only likable characters in the short. Usually, main characters are the worst characters in a hated cartoon, but since the asshole-ness of Ernie and Slab has toned down a bit, they're actually likable here. In fact, at this point, Ernie and Slab could be the main characters of the George Liquor franchise now.
- Despite the same problem as stated above, the first few minutes of the short are okay as it feels like a typical George Liquor cartoon.
- George had a good reason why he bought the cans in the first place: "I buy them cheap, 5 ten cents each! You got to learn to save a buck here in this world! Somebody's got a plan for the future! I might have to put you through reform school one day. You don't want to end 20 years in the hole, do ya'?"
- The unfinished version of the short is better than the completed version, depending on your view.
Upon its eventual release in 2019, Cans Without Labels was met with a generally negative reception from fans of Kricfalusi's work, who criticized the short's animation, plot, voice acting, humor and constantly delayed production. Due to these reasons, it is considered to be the final nail in the coffin for Kricfalusi's career as he was already blacklisted from every studio he ever worked for and, with his reputation ruined after his history of pedophilia was revealed the previous year, the failure of this short ensured that Kricfalusi has become a disgraced animator. In response to this backlash, Kricfalusi announced his semi-retirement from the animation industry a year later after the short's release.
- In an interview, Kricfalusi stated that the short was based on real-life events involving his father, a cheapskate who would usually buy unlabeled food cans (due to them being cheaper than brand-name products) of which he would order his children to eat whatever is inside each.
- The DVD for the short contains an animatic for a cancelled Ren and Stimpy short planned to be theatrically released alongside The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (or The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run depending on the source) as an Easter egg. Watch it here.
- This short was dedicated to Michael, Mary Lou and Elizabeth Kricfalusi, alongside Michael Pataki (George Liquor's voice actor, who passed away in 2010). Elizabeth's name was removed in the digital download version.
- The short was originally going to premiere at the 2016 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, but the premiere was cancelled after Kricfalusi informed the festival that the short wasn't ready at the last minute.
- In the short's Kickstarter campaign, Kricfalusi stated that he would make a follow-up short starring another character from The Goddamn George Liquor Program - Jimmy's underage girlfriend, Sody Pop - if Cans Without Labels was successful. To date however, the Sody Pop short hasn't been made most likely due to the short's failure and Kricfalusi's semi-retirement from the animation industry, following backlash for his pedophilic actions revealed.
- Kricfalusi filed copyright claims on anyone who uploaded the short on YouTube without his consent, before eventually uploading it himself.
- On his early days, MRR mocked this short's portrayal of George Liquor, especially with the whole can crap.