I'm not sure whom it was, but a smarter man than I once said, "There are only a few things you can really count on: death, taxes, and Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation." Or something along those lines. The point is, every year since 1990, Spike and Mike have made the rounds, promoting offensive, borderline sacrilegious cartoons that have obscene fascinations with feces, animals with erections, and bunnies (well, Craig "Spike" Decker has, anyway—co-founder Mike Gribble died of cancer in 1994). Disney does not sponsor these, and they're definitely not cartoons your mother would approve of.

Mother's approval aside, what's fascinating about S&M is that it has evolved from a cult-like phenomenon into a legitimate launch pad for some commercially successful series, including Beavis and Butt-Head, South Park, and the American premiere of Wallace & Gromit, while remaining true to its indie, albeit gross, roots. Unfortunately, there are no real classics in this year's offerings; on the other hand, every last one is at least entertaining. A highlight is Donkey Bong—I won't ruin the plot, but the last scene depicts a gerbil, who, while inside a donkey's rectum, sings some new words to Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence." Another is the sardonic Learn Self Defense, which, in many ways, shares the same subtle, politically charged humor as Martin Scorsese's brilliant 1967 short The Big Shave.

The centerpiece of the fest is the nine-minute long Save Virgil; a hybrid animation/live-action flick about a cartoon boy living in the real world. Bearing more than a passing stylistic resemblance to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Save Virgil is tame enough to not be out of place on Comedy Central, or, with a little editing, on a major network. The problem is that, with the high-quality production, the voice of Adam Carolla, and a Gary Coleman cameo, Save Virgil feels almost too polished for Spike and Mike.

In the end, even without a Wallace & Gromit or a Beavis and Butt-Head, Spike and Mike's annual dose of the profane is, after 16 years, still worth the price of admission. That is, if you don't mind not getting your mother's approval.