YES, ANIMATION lives outside the clunky kiddie world of Saturday a.m. and Disneyland. In fact, the "Tournee of Animation," a collection of short films aimed at adults, would fry the Care Bears' bitsy Nutrasweet brains.
The "Tournee," which has badly needed a cartoon-up the past couple of seasons, returns recharged with a variety of styles and subjects -- from claymation to computer graphics, from Shakespeare to Scrabble Wars. This year's 20 offerings are often wry and wise, their subjects sophisticated and their techniques artistically adroit.
The feature-length program includes some American work, but the better animation comes from Britain, Canada, Japan and the Eastern Bloc. In all, nine countries are represented in this excellent and eclectic collection selected from 750 entries. There's the occasional bomb -- an inane series for the 1984 Olympics comes to mind -- but they're not called shorts for nothing. They're over in minutes.
The 19th "Tournee" also has its milestones: Israel's festival debut with the arty "Bitzbutz"; and the first computer-animated human, a digitized pianist called "Tony De Peltrie," from Canada. Academy-Award winning shorts -- 1984's "Charade," a plucky parody of the games people play from Canada, and 1985's "Anna and Bella," a sweet story of sisterhood from Holland -- are the bracing bookends of the "Tournee."
In "Charade," a game pair compete before an audience of Brits, who easily get esoteric titles like "The Oxford Book of Quotations" from one player's subtle clues while the other can't get them to guess "Jaws" even when he dons a fin and swims ferociously to the theme song. "Look Back in Anger" is the veddy best guess.
"Bella and Anna" is a touching, endearing film about two tipsy sisters who reminisce over an overflowing family album and a large bottle of wine. Borge Ring's whimsical heroines are full of well-spent youth, a couple of lovable fairytale aunties.
Disney makes its "Tournee" debut with a clay animated short "Vincent," a salute to horror films, narrated by Vincent Price and directed by Tim Burton of "Pee-wee's Big Adventure." The Disney of Japan -- Osamu Tezuka -- offers "Jumping," a round-the-world trip as if by extra-orbital pogo stick. Inevitably it becomes a war protest, a common climax for several of the films.
There's plenty more where those came from, quirky, disturbed and off-the-wall. The "Tournee" always seems like a crazy quilt, with the stitching loose and badly pieced. Good and bad, it remains a sure way to see what folks are thinking in other parts of the globe. Lest you bring the kids, there is some cartoon nudity. TOURNEE OF ANIMATION (Unrated) -- At the Biograph.