Runaway is a 9 minute Canadian animated short. A train is populated by a tall stately leader type at the controls, his little sidekick shoveling coal alongside him, a car full of stereotypical rich people doing stereotypical rich people things (sipping martinis, playing billiards, etc.), and a car even more full of stereotypical poorer people (who seem to be having a lot more fun, in a hoedown sort of atmosphere).

The leader (captain, engineer, whatever he is) deserts his post to hang out with the rich folks, especially a particular young lady. In his absence, the train careens wildly out of control, sending the sidekick into a panic.

The train ends up wheezing its way up an incline, such that if it loses power it’ll roll back down into a terrible crash. The sidekick, by now out of coal, frantically throws everything else he can into the furnace.

The rich people chip in by gathering up all the belongings of the poor people and giving them to the sidekick to burn. The poor people resist this briefly, but once the rich people wave a little money in their face, they eagerly give up everything, including stripping off all their clothes to hand to the rich people.

This provides enough power to get the train out of danger, especially when the rich simply decouple the car full of poor people and send them to their death, since they’re of no use to them anymore.

I would have ended it there, since as far as I’m concerned that’s a pretty darn accurate depiction of the world. But it continues until the rich people meet their demise as well.

I suppose that’s plausible too. At times it seems like the rich will always win since they have all the tools to rig everything in their favor, but you can make a case that their greed ultimately won’t just continue to crush the poor but eventually do themselves in as well.

Runaway is a well-done, entertaining piece of animation. It is visually interesting, is quirky enough to be funny, makes a point, and is not overlong. All-in-all, it’s easily worth 9 minutes of one’s time.

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