Asphalt Watches is about two people hitchhiking across Canada — that’s the greatest amount of detail that I could infer after watching the animated film.
Asphalt Watches is based on the true story of how Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman, the film’s creators, attempt to travel across the country. The duo’s plan involves sneaking onto a freight train with the help of the 1984 Train Hopping Manual, a tome that has been photocopied by generations of Canadian hitchhikers. However, they manage to miss the train at every recommended location and are forced to hitchhike the old fashioned way.
The film is one gigantic trip, both in a literal and figurative sense. The animation style is simplistic almost to the point of being childish, giving the film a hallucinatory feeling. Every person the characters run into on their journey is an over-exaggerated caricature and yet you learn almost no one’s name during the entire film. Along the road, the duo run into several particularly weird characters, including a crazy old man who loves Wendy’s and claims to be Santa Claus and a loud trucker who is modeled after a penis. Symbolism is everywhere in the film. I’m not exactly sure what aliens speaking to the characters through the stars had to do with anything, let alone the film as a whole.
To add to the eclectic tastes of the film, characters onscreen occasionally break out into psychedelic repetitive songs about seemingly anything. There were several instances of this, such as “Come On Over For Some BHD” (Boiled Hot Dogs) and “Boil The Lock.”
Details are added only when they become relevant. The audience doesn’t learn the protagonists’ names until a third of the way through. It is during that scene that we learn Skeleton Hat and Bucktooth Cloud — yes, those are the protagonists’ names — are in Medicine Hat. Even though the eclectic style adds uniqueness to the film, it does so at the cost of coherency. You have little idea of why the characters are doing what they’re doing.
The conclusion was somewhat confusing and inconclusive but fitting to such an unconventional film. At the end, not much is explained and more questions arise than are answered. However this film isn’t looking for a definite conclusion. The audience is simply being taken along on Skeleton Hat and Bucktooth Cloud’s adventure.
All things considered, the film is something that is truly unique and could never be replicated in quite the same way by anyone. While this film may not be everyone’s cup of tea, if you want to experience a new way of looking at the world, or just want to watch something strange with some friends, go see Asphalt Watches.