A happily napping little kidney bean (voiced by Andy Tamandl) is attacked by two scheming, bullying lima beans (voiced by Helmut Bakaitis). They grow legs and sneak up on it, playing with the kidney bean as if it were a football and laughing uproariously as it lies helpless and flat as a pancake.
Summary by Antoinette Starkiewicz
This opening scene shows a cruel, unprovoked attack which soon escalates into a full-on battle for revenge. Andy Tamandl animates his simple bean shapes with skill and sensitivity, giving them personalities we can all recognise. The sweet little kidney bean has a childlike voice and Tamandl gives the bullies legs, so they can sneak up on their napping victim, and mean, toothy smiles so they can better enjoy their cruel play. He clearly conveys the innocence, helplessness and defeat of the little kidney bean by animating it from full red plumpness into a flat lozenge resembling a pool of blood.
While snoozing peacefully, a plump little kidney bean is accosted by two malicious lima beans. Kicking the little bean as if it were a ball, the lima beans amuse themselves with the kidney bean’s pain. The maligned bean complains to its leader, who immediately whistles for reinforcements and an all-out battle ensues, which no bean ultimately wins.
Andrew Tamandl, the creator of Has Beans, gives his simple bean shapes personalities as varied as that of innocent child, malicious bully and vengeful fighter. This anthropomorphism – where human characteristics are given to non-human creatures and objects – has a long history in animation, going back to early Walt Disney films with Mickey Mouse and Chuck Jones’s Bugs Bunny cartoons. Imbuing personality requires considerable skill in animation as well as observation of human behaviour. Tamandl brings both to this film: we feel for the mistreated little kidney bean and disapprove of the two bully lima beans .
As retaliation escalates, both kidney and lima beans multiply into gangs and veritable battalions, teeth bared and utterly determined to annihilate each other. Tamandl states that ‘we as a species will either work it out by looking after each other, or we will lose it all’. The moral of the story is clear: bullying leads to revenge. But not all is lost as humour wins the day in the final scene where a delicious bean meal awaits.
Has Beans was animated on SGI (Silicon Graphics, Inc.) in SoftImage 3D and Maya at AFTRS, and is Tamandl’s first digital film. Andy Tamandl is now in Hollywood where his rare gifts in animation and special effects have graced such features as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), The Tree of Life (2011) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), which won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
Has Beans won the SMPTE Award in 1998 and was nominated for Best Animation Film at the 1998 AFI Awards. It screened at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 1999.
Notes by Antoinette Starkiewicz