Grade: C+

The 2003 edition of Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt’s “The Animation Show” was an anthology that had more hits than misses, so it’s depressing to note that the new 2005 edition isn’t quite up to its predecessor. Of the dozen items included in its eighty-plus minutes, only two seem outstanding: Bill Plympton’s “Guard Dog,” which depicts the imagined dangers that lead a mutt to go after its master’s supposed enemies, and “Ward 13,” an Australian tale of a ghoulish hospital with a fiendish staff that’s more than a little overextended and repetitive at fifteen minutes but still works as a sendup of horror and action movie cliches. Otherwise there are pieces that are visually impressive without offering much in the way of coherent content–like “Rock Fish,” about a burly guy and his robot-dog sand-fishing for a desert beast, and “Fallen Art,” in which some military maniacs apparently get their jollies from experiments in torture and death–and others that have flashes of brilliance without being consistent winners (“Hello,” about communication difficulties; “When the Day Breaks,” a bittersweet rumination on death; and Herzfeldt’s own “The Meaning of Life,” which unfortunately runs out of gas). But there are also too many flops, like “The F.E.D.S,” which really has no reason to be animated at all (it follows the “Waking Life” pattern of painting over filmed material, in this case involving people who give out free samples at grocery stores), or “Pan With Us,” a surrealistic setting of a Robert Frost poem, or “L’Homme Sans Ombre,” an uninspired take on a familiar subject. One hates to dismiss the efforts of those trying to support short films nowadays, but the average in this compilation just isn’t high enough to warrant a visit.