According to Wholphin Editor Brent Hoff: "Wholphins are a cross between a false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) and a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates).... We honor this new sea mammal, and proudly hoist its banner above these films."
Perhaps more importantly is that Wholphin is literary journal McSweeney's foray into DVD publishing. Wholphin No. 1—which comes with the current McSweeney's, and includes a subscription card for future discs—is, appropriately, very McSweeneyish: There are a few brilliant gems, some boring things, and one or two things that probably sounded way cooler in theory. Largely, though, Wholphin hits more than it misses—sure, there are a few annoying and/or lame shorts, but there's also an excerpt from David O. Russell's excellent short film about soldiers in Gulf War I, Soldiers Pay. And yeah, there's boring found footage and a boring Turkish sitcom with almost-boring subtitles added by American writers—but there's also the inexplicably captivating sight of comedian Patton Oswalt staring into the camera and making faces (a segment trumped only by the spectacle of some Dutch dude singing Stairway to Heaven—in reverse).
In short, there's a lot of stuff that's vaguely amusing, punctuated with a few worthwhile items. First up in the latter: A cute but shallow short penned by Miranda July, Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody, starring John C. Reilly. Next is The Big Empty, a darkly funny adaptation of Alison Smith's short story, starring Selma Blair and executive produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh.
And then there's the one perfect thing: A documentary on Al Gore by Spike Jonze. Filmed shortly before the '00 election—and filmed by Jonze as he kicks it with the Gores for a day, eating dinner, looking at family pictures, going for a walk with Al—the film, in an all-too-brief 13 minutes, packs more personality and heart than the entirety of Gore's sad, futile campaign. With one punch, Jonze delivers a striking film that speaks volumes about American politics. Likewise—provided it can keep showcasing films such as these—Wholphin makes a case for a promising future. ERIK HENRIKSEN