One of the smartest and most compelling shorts around, ALTERNATIVE MATH, a 9-minute American piece directed by David Maddox, is a deeply layered and remarkably sophisticated pieces of intelligent comedy. Alternative Math went on to have a successful film festival run, winning awards such as Best in Show for Shorts at the 2017 Austin Revolution Film Festival. Highly recommend.
Our heroine is a veteran grade school teacher trying to explain to her student that 2+2=4. The child however, believes the answer is 22. So do his parents. How dare this teacher censor their child and restrict his learning. What kind of professional does this? The child’s parents are out for blood and soon our heroine is trapped in a vicious media onslaught and a school board demanding her resignation.
What makes this film so special is that it functions on so many layers. It works comically due to it’s wonderfully executed reducto-absurdum, but just a little bit deeper we find an allegory for our modern world carrying a concerning warning. What happens when beliefs are taken too such a degree that basic knowledge is questioned? What happens to a population when the right to free speech becomes more important than the recognition of fact? There is a frightening undertone in ALTERNATIVE MATH that speaks to a greater and more terrible world lurking in a reality not too far away from our own.
Of course, this allegory is one that comes gift-wrapped clearly and politely in the bow comedy for an audience can unwrap it with glee, not fear. Perhaps this is one of the best reasons to see ALTERNATIVE MATH, a film with heart, humanity and humor, as well as deeper philosophical undertones. A family film to be enjoyed by teacher and student alike.