Billboard Frolics

“SEE THEM AND HEAR THEM”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Cal Dalton and Sandy Walker; Music by Bernard Brown. A Merrie Melody released on November 9, 1935.

We must begin today’s post with what happened at to me at Comic Con: I had a great time. Twice as many people asked me for photographs than last time, two people asked me to dance and sing, (one of whom filmed me) and I lost count of how many compliments I got on my costume. (My favorite was the guy who said and I quote: “Hell yeah! Michigan J. Frog!) Apart from that, it’s a real pleasure in life to see the current voice of Bugs Bunny in person. I can die a happy man, death! Any day now!

Now for today’s post: A very popular story to tell in animated features anymore is “What does ‘X’ do when I’m not around.” It’s been going on much longer than just lately. Exhibit A is our short, today. Today, it’s what the characters on billboards do at night. (Which is coincidentally the premise for one of Illumination’s upcoming films. They’re calling it: “Billboard Games.” It will be mediocre but have an impressive box-office return.)

We begin with an advertisement for the musical duo of “Eddie Camphor” and “Rub-em-off”. They sing a merry melody that I feel should be the theme song to a series of theatrical short films someday. Plenty of ads join in the fun. A cute Cuban dances on her travel ad, Mexican tamales sing along, and Russian rye bread do their expected squat dance. The one I don’t get is the smoking toy penguins. Is that a reference? I’ll be very grateful if you educate me.

Since these are living ads, they can do things that our boring reality ones can’t. Namely, they can hop off of their billboard and traipse around the “real” world. That’s what the chick on the “My am I?” billboard does. (Is that one a reference? Is it just a play on Miami?) He has seen a worm and he is eager to be a part of the food chain. But this is one wily worm who doesn’t want to give up eating crops for being eaten and placed in a crop. (Bird humor.)

Now the funny thing about food chains is that they are almost never are two links long. The local alley cat is happy to take his part in nature’s grand design. Even if his prey of choice tastes like acryllic paint and advertising. My-am-I decides to make a retreat. (I love his face. Why hasn’t that been memed? You fools always seem to neglect my best ideas!) Good thing the board members have such a strong union, and begin fighting off the predator. Including sending out the next link in the food chain: a dog.

The cat manages to trap Fido in a pipe, and he continues chasing the chick. The bird finds himself trapped against a dead end. (Which will be literal if a last minute save doesn’t happen.) The little guy is saved by the baking soda ad on the nearby wall. (Ham and Armour brand, of course.) That chick certainly has something to crow about now.

Favorite Part: When chasing the worm, the chick has an adorable angry face. Coupled that with his non-threatening “cheeps” makes me just want to fawn over him, cuddle him, and give him that worm. (Cute things always get precedent.)

Personal Rating: 3

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