Hitting home screens on Father's Day, The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation isn't about a dear old dad in a cardigan sweater and slippers.

This year's Oscar winner as best animated short film crumples any and all Hallmark card sentiments in its determination to cauterize and characterize a cowed son's relationship with his oft-volcanic father.

Filmmaker John Canemaker is the son. John Cannizzaro, who died in 1995, was his father. They're respectively voiced by John Turturro and Eli Wallach in a half-hour purging of souls driven by animation, home movies and still photos.

It's not for everyone. But some of us are still trying to connect the dots between long-gone dads and the seeming demons that drove them. Mr. Canemaker's highly personal film is drawn from an "interview" he had with his father shortly before his passing. It didn't heal all wounds, but it cut to the bones of contention between them. Simply put, "As a boy, I was afraid of you, Dad. I never seemed to please you."

Young John's first fright night came when he was an 8-year-old in October 1951. Jarred out of a sound sleep, he learned that Dad's struggling little hotel was burning to the ground. It led to an arson conviction, with John Cannizzaro serving five years in prison. It turns out that he needed the insurance money to pay off a loan to "the Bigger Guys," namely the Mafia.

Dad's back story is one of struggle, deprivation and boiling resentments that were taken out on his wife and children. We're compelled to sympathize, but only to a point. The pain that John Cannizzaro inflicted on his family is still unconscionable. In The Moon and the Son's most effective animated sequence, a towering, glowing monster of a dad sprays his venom at full strength: "You're no good. Bum. Sissy. You sissy. You'll never make it. No respect for your father and mother."

"The only way I'm able to get you out of my head is to keep you at a distance, like the man in the moon," he says as the curtain lowers. "Far enough away that you can't hurt me. Bright enough so that I can never be able to forget you."

Some of us know those feelings. Some dads made us vow to be anything but the dads they were to us. Oddly enough, that can be a lasting gift. Even so, thanks but no thanks.

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