Cheatin’

Oh, the places a jealous mind will go! Already good for any number of movie stories, that conceit seems especially well-suited to animator Bill Plympton’s casual mastery of crazy cartoon physics. In Cheatin’, even the story structure itself is warped, and what fun to feel the energy of its zigzagging current — from the static electric shock of a bumper-car meet-cute to the mad, high-voltage science of its duly amplified climax. In Plympton’s deliberately digressive hand-drawn fantasia, a pucker-lipped looker and a cloddish muscleman come together and fall apart with reckless romantic abandon. Choice opera snippets dovetail with composer Nicole Renaud’s accordion-intensive retro score to imply that this is timeless, or at least archetypal, stuff: the tragicomic symbiosis of insecurity and infidelity. Ever a genius with visual gags, Plympton gets most of his tale across with exaggerated, pulpy sensuality and without dialogue — although we shouldn’t neglect due credit to the expressive vocal talents of Sophia Takal and Jeremy Baumann. Movement is of the essence here, and it’s really something to see these irrepressibly protean figures put through their emotional paces. By way of critique, one might dare Plympton to be less defensively erotic in future work, but that just affirms the thrill of racing to keep up with his inspirations.