"It’s a novel idea but not an entirely successful one"

You may not be too familiar with the name Paul Lynde, but you’ll have certainly heard of many of the characters he interacted with. Lynde was a Hollywood actor whose fame primarily rose from voicing villains for Hanna-Barbara cartoons way back when.

Using this as his base, director Richard Squires examines not only Lynde’s life and career but also many of the aspects surrounding cartoon villains in this at times interesting if uneven documentary. From the voice-casting to the drawings themselves via their appearance, it’s fascinating to see how and why villains in cartoons were created in a way that’s still relevant in CGI-animation and stop-motion all these years later. Many of the talking heads featured are academics and are presented in the guise of the T.V. quiz ‘Hollywood Squares’ a nod to a show Lynde became well known for, and while these insights are the films key selling point, it’s bizarre that we don’t learn the credentials of those speaking until the closing credits.

Elsewhere we hear somewhat sporadically from people who knew Lynde and these interestingly blur the lines between Lynde and the characters he lent his voice to. All the while an animated villain created especially for the documentary is utilized to dramatize parts of Lynde’s life. It’s a novel idea but not an entirely successful one, especially when three of the sequences are extended for no obvious reason other than to flesh out the still slender running time.

That running time is just 69 minutes which, given the aforementioned issue, suggests there is not enough here for a full feature even if many of the elements featured are fascinating to a degree.