Belly Flop

By Jeremy Collins and Kelly Dillon | Animation
A young girl is determined to learn to dive despite being overshadowed by a spotlight-stealing rival.

Penny is a little girl who is determined to learn how to dive. She plucks up the persistence, courage and resilience to face the deep end of the pool from the diving board, again and again and again.

But an older rival at the pool consistently overshadows he with her talent and grace. But this only spurs Penny on to take literally aim higher. But though she doesn’t quite hit the same elegant form as her rival, she still finds a way to shine.

This marvelously colorful animated short has the wonderful clarity of the best children’s entertainment, with clearly drawn characters, a vibrant visual world and a briskly paced sense of storytelling that still allows for emotional engagement with the characters’ interior life.

The film has a beautiful, engaging simplicity, starting with the lucid and charming script. Penny has a clearly defined goal, and her unbridled eagerness and wide-eyed innocence in going after it is related in everything from how quickly she scampers up to the diving board to how determinedly she puts on her swimming goggles. There’s no dialogue, but Penny as a character is easily relatable to anyone who has ever struggled to reach a goal and achieve recognition for their efforts.

She’s drawn, like the other characters, with genuine flair and individuality. The overall visual style matches the emotional tenor of the narrative, with its vivid colors, friendly rounded shapes and beautiful settings. It’s simply a pleasure to watch, and eye candy in the best sense of the term.

“Belly Flop” is that rare family-friendly short animation that tells children’s stories with respect, taking what may seem like their small battles and applying emotional precision and genuine empathy to them. Genuinely heartwarming and inspiring for all ages, it’s about how the effort we put into our goals may not quite pay off in the way we expect — but what we learn and develop in terms of resilience and determination is worth much more than a “Perfect 10.”

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