Cats and Bruises

“Here comes Mr. Butt-inski.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Co-Director: Hawley Pratt; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Bob Matz, Norm McCabe, Don Williams, Manny Perez, Warren Batchelder, and Lee Halpern; Layouts by Dick Ung: Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on January 30, 1965.

On every Cinco de Mayo you can find all the mice in Mexico celebrating. That’s all well and good, but it also means they’re all in one location and Sylvester knows that spot. He tries to infiltrate the party with his own mouse ears (It’s worked before.) but Speedy can see through the disguise and tells everyone to run while he takes care of the party crasher. Speedy even uses an old sign to taunt him. (They still have that? Move on, guys.)

Speedy gets Sylvester into the nearby dog pound a couple of times. (Must be why they chose this venue.) But the budget doesn’t allow any scratches on the cat. He does manage to get Speedy in a net, and dragged around. He’s smart enough to grab a hammer, but slams into a pole. Later, Speedy takes a romantic boat ride with a mouse doe, whilst Sylvester tries to sneak up via rubber raft. Speedy pops that with a dart.

Like the new saying I just made up goes: if you can’t bead’em, outspeed’em. Sylvester is putting his engineering degree to good use as he designs a car that will actually outpace Speedy. We said it was crazy and couldn’t be done, but only the first part of that statement came true. As amazingly enough, the car is doing a dang fine job of catching up to the guy. (If we could see the speedometer, we could use basic math to figure out Speedy’s top speed. I’ve never wanted to do basic math more in my life!)

As it turns out, Speedy is the fastest mouse in all Mexico, and that includes his stopping speed. Meanwhile, it seems Sylvester never foresaw the mouse calling it quits, and didn’t bother to install brakes. He drives off a cliff and into a lake. (Although the camera pans upward. So we should all be forgiven for thinking it launched him into the thermosphere.) Speedy lets everyone know that it is safe to continue partying, and they dance again in the same shot we saw them in originally. (Wait… Speedy really kept them waiting while he went on a date? What a cheesehole!)

But Sylvester isn’t dead if that’s what Speedy was implying; he’s just in a wheelchair. So he can still chase the mouse in a way. Speedy humors him by running a fraction of a fraction of his normal pace. What a cheesehole.

Favorite Part: After Slyvester gets out of the dog pound. Speedy asks if he’s nervous. I like Speedy’s smug face, and the quick “yup” Sylvester responds with.

Personal Rating: 2. And that’s me being nice. This whole picture was a mishmash of reused gags we’ve seen before! (Probably why the animation looks a bit more polished than what was coming out at this time.) However, casual fans and newbies could probably find enjoyment here. (Still, I wouldn’t use this to introduce the characters to them.)

Stooge for a Mouse

“…You like cats, how come?”

Directed by I. Freleng; Animation by Arthur Davis, Gerry Chiniquy, Emery Hawkins, Ken Chapin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 21, 1950.

It’s so nice to see Sylvester happy. Even better? He’s happy with a dog! A dog! His natural enemy! It doesn’t matter what he does, any dog sees him and he gets mauled. Mike is much more understanding than those neander-canines. He’s even happy to let his pal use him as a pillow. But there are still responsibilities to uphold, and Sylvester’s main one at the moment is keeping his eye on a mouse.

Whoever owns this house loves leaving unwrapped cheese on the table. Naturally, the visible scent is going to attract a mouse. But Sylvester is on the job, and while not fully catching him, does send him running back to his hole. Seems like this isn’t the first failure for the rodent, so he’s going to have to resort to chicanery if he wants that rotting milk-wad.

He cuts a hole in the ceiling and lowers a phone receiver. Taking the other end, he starts putting doubts in Mike’s head about enjoying the company of cats. They only like other life-forms for their warmth, and will kill you once you outlive usefulness. (I mean, I don’t think he’s wrong…)  To make things worse, he plants a knife in Sylvester’s paws and has the dog look. He’s not pleased and banishes his chum to the other side of the room. Let’s call the mouse D.J.! (Short for dick jerk)

Mike sleeps once more, and Sylvester decides it’d be okay to at least share the rug. Mike can have some personal space, sure. But once the two are asleep once again, the mouse ups the ante. Wielding a mallet, he gives Mike a whallop and plants the weapon on Sylvester’s person once more, fleeing before his trick is discovered. Again, Mike is pissed to think what he once considered a good friend is now causing him bodily harm.

D.J.’s tricks get worse, and Mike decides the only option is to put the cat in shackles and throw him out of the room. Even though this should help prove Sylvester’s innocence, Mike still blames him when the mouse saws a hole around him, and gives Sylvester the saw. (Really, Mike? You don’t see ANYTHING suspicious about this? You KNOW there’s a mouse in the house.) He gives Sylvester a pounding leaving the cat dazed. But the mouse has one more scheme to try: it involves a boxing glove and horseshoes.

Figure it out yet? D.J. is going to use a magnet to drag a horseshoe-filled-gloved-Sylvester into Mike’s mug. That’s it. Mike retaliates and punches the (still oblivious) cat right back again. And the mouse pulls him right back once more. This goes on for a while, and when it’s all said and done, the house is a wreck and the two pets have been knocked senseless. D.J. goes to get his cheese, but thank goodness for small mercies. You see, you can’t turn a magnet off and it pulls on something else metal. The lighting fixture which comes undone and knocks D.J. unconscious. Hopefully when everyone comes to, they’ll know who’s really to blame: the moron who lets good food sit and spoil.

Favorite Part: Mike being a very supportive friend when Sylvester admits the mouse got away. He still thinks his pal did a good job scaring the pest, and that’s what really matters. What a good dog!

Personal Rating: Before we get to that, here’s a bonus Toon for you to watch:

Now, even thought this cartoon doesn’t look or sound as good as what we’ve already discussed today, I find it the better picture. First off, the dog and cat’s friendship is so cloyingly, saccharine-sweet, that you kinda want to see them change tune. (Doesn’t help that the cat sounds like Meowth with his balls caught in a vice.) Second, Herman actually makes BOTH of them think the other is turning traitor, so you don’t pity them too much. And most importantly, they catch wise to his scheme so things will most probably work out.

TL;DR: I’d give this today’s short a 2, but if you’re not as sentimental as me, you’d probably say it deserves a 3. ( Herman’s short DEFINITELY earns a 2.)

Hoppy Daze

“No mouse is no match for no cat.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on February 11, 1961.

Age happens to the best of us. (The worst of us too. It don’t discriminate.) Sadly, this leaves one with the inevitable fact that there will be one day where you just will simply not be able to do the things you enjoy. Even basic things like getting sustenance. Such is the fate of a cat I’ve decided to call Moe. He just can’t catch mice like he used to. (Also, he stole Spike’s clothes.)

Spying an equally hungry Sylvester gives Moe an idea, offer to train him as a “champeen” mouser. Sylvester likes the idea and agrees to that, and the fact that he’ll get 20% of the mice. This… seems kind of out of character for him. Sure, he’s gullible, but I’d think his ego would be big enough to think he already was a “champeen.” If anything, I’d think he’d be more likely to just try and prove that the little cat’s tutoring would be useless. (Also, I can’t help but think this would’ve been a perfect opportunity to bring Dodsworth back.)

Sylvester enters a warehouse, and begins chasing a non-anthro mouse. (Which looks scary and out of place here.) It runs into a crate, and Sylvester opens ‘er up, failing to notice the label saying there’s a baby kangaroo inside. Look at that, a giant mouse. Kicks him out, too. Moe doesn’t believe the giant mouse story, and reminds Sylvester that they’re small creatures. Filled with resolve, Sylvester enters again. He is thrown out. Again.

After entering the third time, Sylvester finds Hippety is copying the cat. Without hesitating, Sylvester realizes that he can use this fact to his advantage, and a game of follow the leader commences. Once Hippety is back in his crate, Sylvester slips some TNT in with the marsupial. Hippety sends it back, along with the other five that was in with him. (What the? If he needs to be put down, can’t you find a more humane way?)

Time for an actual tip. (Brought to you by Moe, the cat whose hands change color briefly.) He tells Sylvester to keep his left up. Sounds like a good idea, so Sylvester tries it. (And he tries talking without moving his lips. He gets about six words in before he cracks.) Since Hippety is out of the crate again, he can bounce away from the pugnacious putty-tat. Sylvester tries the bouncing trick himself with some old bed springs. Then, well this happens:

He tricks Syvlester into jumping off the top of a pile of crates. He lands on a barrel of gunpowder. The springs get stuck, and Sylvester in launched up to the ceiling. The springs pull the barrel up, and launch Sylvester out of the warehouse, and into a nearby incinerator smokestack. Seeing the launch, Moe follows and the resulting explosion sends Sylvester’s left right into Moe’s mug. He’s mighty impressed with his pupil. (Oh, by the way, could you tell that Moe talked like Jimmy Durante? No? Then allow Hippety to end with another impression.)

Favorite part: The little clap Hippety gives is adorable. He really thinks Sylvester is here to play with him.

Personal Rating: 2. For the out of character, and missed opportunity.

Birds of a Father

“I feel like an assassin.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, and Ted Bonnicksen; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on April 1, 1961.

Sylvester can relax in a hammock with pride. His son is the kind of kit that most fathers can only dream about: the kind who is a natural at bird chasing. But wait! The bird is chasing Junior? That’s not how it should be. Could Junior really be afraid of his natural prey? No, worse. He’s friends with the bird! The shame of it all! Time to teach the kid about proper behavior.

Junior is kind of aghast to learn that he is to chase, catch and eat a bird in that order. Spike (for that is the bird’s name) suggests a plan though: a mock fight that will take place in a shed away from Sylvester’s judging eyes. (All said in tweet-ese. Where’d Junior learn to speak that?) It starts out perfect, but the two are really putting their all into their roles, and Sylvester is a bit concerned with how violent his kid is behaving. Especially if the cleaver in the door is any indication.

Sylvester comes in (The cleaver and Spike both disappear. At least we see the bird leave.) and tells his son that there is a much more humane, much more sporting way to hunt birds: searing hot lead that can reach speeds of 2000 feet per second. Guns. What a wonderful invention. Sylvester is quite the marks-cat as well; gets a birdie on his first shot! I’m impressed, but the badminton player isn’t as much. (Probably because he had to pay for it.)

Round 2. (Is it me, or is Sylvester’s tail unnaturally long in this picture? I can already tell its missing the white tip.) The next bird is most definitely a bird. It may have even been alive once. But as of now, it’s a hat ornament and the owner of said hat doesn’t take too kindly to a cat with a gun. (Me personally, I’d let a cat wielding a gun do whatever he pleases. It’s a good survival tactic.) So, maybe technology is the answer. Sylvester builds a cute little plane that will shoot at any target you instruct it to. What happens when you set it to bird? Do you know?

Did you say it goes after birds? You did? Good job! Spike is plenty maneuverable though, and is able to stay alive. But the plane is tenacious and doesn’t give up after one failure, and Spike flees, right towards Sylvester. He runs with the other two right behind him. Spike is able to dodge it once again, but Sylvester gets stuck with it in an explosives shed. After the blast, Junior scatters some feathers around to make his father feel good about himself. Then heads off to play with his new friend: Spike in cat disguise. (So sad that his father is species-ist.)

Favorite Part: After Junior learns of how nature intended for  cats and birds to get along, (With the hairs on his head disappearing very briefly, I swear!) He sadly asks his dad if they are cannibals. Sylvester says yes.

Personal Rating: 3

A Mouse Divided

“Let’s face it; I can’t fly any feather.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Art Davis, Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 31, 1953.

We’ve seen a cat delivered to mice parents before, what if the situations were reversed? All thanks to Stupor Stork, making his first appearance, and not only being inebriated BEFORE any deliveries, but also sounding a bit more helium-ish. As fate is funny, he gives up at the house of Sylvester and his Mrs. She’s just been complaining to him about their lack of offspring. Something that she must have brought up before, seeing as how Sylvester mockingly imitates her as she weeps.

Stupor leaves them with the bundle, and even if Sylvester wasn’t too keen on the idea of having children, he’s still as excited as his wife to hear the news. (I like that.) To their shock, their son is a mouse. (To my shock, there was lot more bundle than what is needed for a mouse pup. But then, how else could anyone be fooled into thinking a kitten is in there?) Mrs. S. is a bit taken aback, but one “Mama” is enough to get her maternal instincts going. Her husband is more on the “He’s so cute, I could eat him up” train of thought. She won’t have it.

Foolishly enough, she even trusts her man with watching the kid while she goes out. As soon as the door shuts, Sylvester gives the baby a pepper powdering, a lettuce diaper, and two slices of bread to rest between. (I guess the safety pin is akin to a toothpick.) Before one bite happens, the infant identifies the predator as “daddy” and that’s all it takes. Sylvester is more taken with the child then I’ve ever seen him with his biological kid. It’s still sweet.

Well, it looks like father and son are going to get along swimmingly. The two decide to take a stroll around the block, and are almost immediately chased home by throngs of other cats. Seeing as how they are a species that is concerned about nobody’s happiness but their own, they have no problem trying to kill a child in front of its parent. They try anyway they can to get in. Disguised as a salesman, claiming to be a babysitter, even trying to break down the door. (You’d think these drama queens have never eaten before.)

Unlike most of his movie career, Sylvester succeeds in driving them all off. (I mean, if he didn’t, then Friz would have infant blood on his resume. I’m not even sure Parker and Stone can make such a claim. And I’m not looking it up.) But even though I’d say the family is happy together and can overcome these obstacles, the higher ups really got on Stupor’s case and he’s back to retrieve the kid. Rather than, pfft, I don’t know, knocking at the door to explain the mistake, he opts to use a baited fishing line.

Considering the kind of day he’s been having, it’s not strange that Sylvester thinks its just another cat trick. He pulls the line himself, and Stupor proves his strength by reeling him in. (As a stork, I’m sure he’s delivered his fair share of whale calves.) Still not clear in the head, he mistakes Sylvester for the mouse, and delivers him to the mouse parents. That’s going to be embarrassing to explain.

Favorite Part: When his wife says that the kid is theirs, Sylvester takes that as an excuse to share the meal. Even going so far as to hold a cleaver above the child.

Personal Rating: 4. It’s adorable. True the ending is a bit mean, but I choose to think that afterwards, the two cats got to keep the kid, and he learned to fight off all his would be predators.

A Taste of Catnip

“Hello? Oh, Señor Duck! Como sta?”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Michael O’Connor; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Bob Matz, Manny Perez, Norm McCabe, George Grandpre, and Warren Batchelder; Layouts by Dick Ung; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc and Gonzales Gonzales; Musical Direction by Walter Greene. A Merrie Melody released on December 3, 1966.

At Guadalajara Medical centre, you won’t find a better shrink than that of Dr. Manuel Jose Olvera Sebastian Rudolfo Ortiz Pancho Jiminez Perez III. (His friends call him Rudy.) He really is the top of his game, but he can’t help but point out how strange some of his clientele are behind their backs. Such as the time he helped out a fellow by the name of Daffy Duck.

It was about a year ago that Daffy entered the office with quite the peculiar neurosis. It all began when he was at the park. He saw Speedy walk by and he felt a powerful urge that he had never felt before. He wanted to eat Speedy. But that’s absurd, cartoon ducks don’t eat mice! And yet, every time Speedy crosses his path, Daffy has to avoid seeing him to keep his hunger pangs out of control. But things get worse as he finds himself desperately needing to do something else he’s never even conceived of thinking up. He rushes to the nearest trash receptacle, pokes his head in, and lets out a “meow”.

The symptoms worsen. He begins to stalk Speedy on all fours. His competion is not appreciated by Sylvester the cameo. (Marking this short as the cat’s final appearance during the golden era.) So why not just stay home, away from the source of the obsession? Well, Speedy has moved into Daffy’s house and tries to be neighborly, inviting the duck to dinner and everything.

And it’s not like the life of a cat is all overrated videos and lasagna. Daffy now has an instinctual fear of (color changing) dogs, and a need to lap milk from a saucer. That he kept in an unrefrigerated hiding place on top of a hanging lamp. From a color-changing carton. As if drinking milk wasn’t gross enough! (And yes, I’m aware that real cats aren’t supposed to be drinking the stuff either. No need to think you can try and teach me something.)

So, Daffy has come to Rudy for advice. First up, the Rorschach test. Daffy refuses to admit he sees a mouse, even though the doctor sees the same thing. Thus, he deduces that the problem isn’t mental, but physical. Which probably isn’t part of his profession, but what the hey. He enjoys looking with his microscope. He must have taken a blood sample at some point because he has some shocking news: Daffy’s blood catnip is 3.2%!

Wait…. his what?

Yeah, it seems that Daffy’s got catnip on the brain, spine, and circulatory system. Rudy tells him to find the source, and upon returning home, Daffy notices something that he hadn’t before, but probably should have. (So self-centered!) There’s a catnip factory right across the street from his place, and the fumes have been doing things to him. Well, it must be stopped. Peaceful protests, letters to the C.E.O., and poisoning the workforce all take time. Daffy jumps straight to the ultimate solution: bombing.

Well, that problem is fixed, but Daffy is now on the hit list of every cat in the country. All three of them. (One of whom is Sylvester. I wish the other two were Claude and Conrad. What joy I would have!) Still, his feline urges have been suppressed, so I’d call it a happy ending. Rudy meanwhile, is on to his next patient. Speedy himself! And if the quacking is any indication, then I think Speedy thinks he’s a duck! Looks like a certain tape factory won’t be around too much longer.

Favorite Part: Daffy bombing the factory. Such an over-the-top solution for a minuscule problem. Exactly what how I’d expect Daffy to handle it.

Personal Rating: 3 Amazing quality considering when it was released. An interesting plot with nice jokes. (If not hilarious ones.)

Tugboat Granny

“ANCHORS AWEIGH!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on June 23, 1956.

Would you look at that! Granny actually got her name in the title! But… it’s only so they could make a “Tuboat Annie” pun, so she won’t be featuring much in the following short. All we get out of her is a duet with Tweety about tugboats. Granny has a tugboat, you see. I don’t think I’ve made that quite clear. As for Sylvester, he’s been trying to snag a meal by hanging around the fishermen. Since that’s not working out, he decides to try and board the boat and bag the bird.

He first tries a rowboat. Tweety drops an anchor, causing the cat to have to row back to shore, sans boat. Next, he tries a rubber raft. They’re impervious to anchors, but not darts, and it just so happens that Tweety has one of those on him. (Weird. The shot of his dart hitting the raft contains no water. It makes the raft appear to levitate.) Well, the tug is making its way under a bridge now, so Sylvester tries to simply drop down. He lands in the smokestack. (Which would be impressive if this was a video game. It’d probably earn you a piece of heart.)

Right. Going on the water didn’t work. Going over the water didn’t work. Since there aren’t any sharks in this cartoon, it looks like it’s time to try going under and through the water. Sylvester makes a pipe into a handy metal snorkel, but that is exactly the kind of perch that attracts penguin-gulls. And it is insistent on staying put. Since Sylvester has no gills, he has to return to shore. Only then does he find that the bird laid an egg, which is now in his mouth. He throws it at the pest, but gravity returns it to him.

That’s enough tugging for today. Granny (Still not on screen, mind you.) starts docking. Sylvester readies a lasso, but it flies too far, and grabs a hold of a passing speedboat, pulling Sylvester in tow. He starts to get into the spirit of things, and starts pulling faces and stunts. When one doesn’t look where one is going, one is liable to crash into a post. Quoth the fish: “I tawt I taw a puddy-tat.”

Favorite Part: Sylvester’s disastrous fishing trip. Hearing somebody got a bite, he hides in their tackle box. The catch that is put in with him, is a very angry crab. The natural enemy of the common house cat.

Personal Rating: 3

Cats Aweigh

“There goes a brave pussycat!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, Herman Cohen, and Rod Scribner; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 28, 1953.

Sylvester doesn’t mind being an alley cat. He can go where he likes, do as he pleases, and it really makes one appreciate your meals. His son, on the other paw, is not pleased. He wants a home! Where humans will feed him, pet him, and possibly find him cute. The main reason Sylvester is against all that, is the work that it will entail. “Meowing” for food? How civilized.

While at a wharf and searching for breakfast, Junior sees a wanted sign for cats to catch mice on a ship. It’s close enough to his wish for him! And if his dad needs help, he’ll help him! Sylvester thinks that maybe, this could work out after all. He agrees and they get the jobs. Or job, rather. Sylvester sees this as a an opportunity to take a cruise.

When Junior calls him out on his slothful behavior, Sylvester makes a deal: since his son is small, he can catch small mice. Since Sylvester is large, he’ll catch any big mice. You know, should any happen to be around. Poor little guy. He can’t bear to refuse his old man, so he resumes his chase into the cargo hold. The mouse he was chasing has hidden in a baby kangaroo’s crate.

Junior has a neat “Jurassic Park” moment with the marsupial, a good 47 years earlier than the novel. He runs to his dad, telling of the giant mouse, and per their arrangement, his job of capturing it. Sylvester humors the little guy, but finds he is telling the truth. Still, he tries to honor the deal, and sets about trying to fight the beast. It goes about as well as the previous 5 cartoons they’ve been in.

Sylvester makes a new deal with his kid: see, it’s unfair for a child to do more work than the parent, so, since there is only one big mouse, and plenty of small ones, Sylvester suggests they trade. (Geeze, Sylvester is a horrible parent.) But since Junior is such a good son, he agrees to his father’s demands once more and prepares to fight. Junior is quite quick to realize that this is all a game to Hippety, and what’s more, he’s copying all of the cat’s actions. With this knowledge, Junior is able to get him back into his crate quite easily.

Sylvester went back to his reading, because I guess he figured this would keep Junior out of his fur. But once Junior reminds him of their deal, he actually honors the deal! (He is a good father after all!) He follows a mouse back into the hold, and tells his son to not open the door. No matter what he says. The mouse (Who has a shock of red hair on his head. Huh.) hides in a crate of vitamins. And they work wonders! (Must be from ACME.)

With the upper paw, the mouse begins to pummel Sylvester, all while the cat calls desperately for Junior to let him out. Unlike how this gag usually goes, I think Junior is quite aware that his dad is in real peril. But he’s earned the right to benefit from this, and honors his father’s last request.

Favorite Part: The fact that Sylvester didn’t try weaseling out of the deal again. He’s not happy, but it takes very little provoking to get him to do his job this time.

Personal Rating: 3

Space Jam A New Legacy (First Thoughts)

“You remember fun, don’t you, doc?”

As the title suggests, these are just my first thoughts about this film. A synopsis, complete with annoying jokes, limited information, and inflations to my own ego will happen someday in the future. Not today, for it is the present.

Very short version of this post: 🙂

Long version of this post: I expected this movie to be fun. Not good, bad, great, or abysmal. Just fun. And I got exactly that. Let’s be real. Even the first S.J. wasn’t really all that great. (Something I’ve come to grips with long since I blogged about it.) Neither of them have a great story, these films are just an excuse to have cartoons play basketball. (And sell W.B. merchandise on the side.)

Speaking of weak story, I won’t lie: this film has got one of those. LeBron is just playing the “father who wants his progeny to be like him, despite the kid’s protests to do something else.” Seen it. And yeah, the man isn’t a superb actor. (At least he is able to admit it in the film.) Still, I feel he does better than Jordan did. He definitely emotes more. As opposed to Michael looking dead inside. (Really. How could you not go “Looney” getting to meet animation’s greatest characters?)

But as week as the story is, (and some might disagree with me on this) it’s leagues better than the first one’s. Having the Tunes exist in a digital world makes much more sense than being underground. And for that matter, LeBron’s actor/son’s conflict actually gets some sort of payoff. Unlike Michael’s actor/son who mopes a bit, cheers up upon finding his dad was kidnapped by animated characters, then disappears until the denouement.

And the crossover aspect! If you can fathom the idea of someone never seeing “Ready player one” or any “Avengers” movie, then you can probably believe me when I say I was getting goosebumps when all of Warner’s properties gather to watch the game. But there’s a downside to that too. After they assemble, they don’t do anything. Yes, they’re the audience, but the original film let its audience react a bit more. (The most we get here is a pout from King Kong.)

For that matter, the original utilized the Tunes universe just a bit better. The team you see in all the advertisements? That’s pretty much all we get. Marvin and K-9 get a little screen time, when everyone sans Bugs is coerced into seeing what other worlds they can explore there’s a group shot of many minor characters. It just goes by so fast one can’t enjoy it. (I was able to see Rocky, Muggsy and Playboy.) And Canasta appears in the “Mad Max” universe. That’s it.

Wasted potential there. Why couldn’t they join the rest of the crowd for watching?Too expensive to animate? Which reminds me, the animation was gorgeous. Not spectacular. There’s nothing on the levels of “Fantasia” or “Spirited Away.” But what we get is a real treat. Vibrant, bouncy, and looney. Just what I expected and wanted. But that’s the 2-d stuff. How was the 3-d?

I won’t lie. It looks good. And that’s a relief considering how computer generated animation trying to look like it really exists ranges from nightmare inducing:

“I’m the reason animated spider’s are drawn with simple mouths!”

To laughably pathetic.

“Did I miss the auditions for “Pan’s Labyrinth”?”

The voice acting was nice as well. Zendaya Maree Stoerme Coleman did pretty good as Lola. Heck, if I didn’t know going in, I would’ve figured Ms. Bunny was being voiced by a 25 years older Kath Soucie. And the basketball stars voicing the villains did an admirable job. And mentioning the villains, I thought they were a lot of fun. Even if super-powered mutant basketball players feels strangely familiar.

“Good news, everyone! The public no longer has to remember us via “Pixels!”

It’s a good thing they were a joy to watch, as they don’t get nearly as much screen time as the Monstars. And one of them appears too late, and disappears too fast. Why wasn’t he there from the start? Oh, and while I’m discussing the villains: I found Don Cheadle entertaining, but not Pete. He did nothing to further the story. Completely superfluous. But the Minions have made it so animated films won’t sell if there isn’t at least one tiny, annoying, comic relief character that wouldn’t be missed if cut out completely.

The weakest part of the film in my opinion? The ending. I won’t spoil it here, but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and seemed to wrap up a bit too fast. Lucky for me the fun stuff starts a lot quicker than its predecessor, so I don’t feel like there was a bunch of wasted time squeezing the entertaining middle.

And that pretty much wraps up my first thoughts after my first viewing of the first “Looney Tunes” film I’ve been able to see in theaters. My rating is just a few more lines down.

Short version of this post: I quite enjoyed it.

Favorite Part: Really, I did get chills seeing such a large crossover of properties. It might change in the future, but it’s the winner for now.

Personal Rating: I’ve been seeing fairly negative reviews from other people. I however, feel that if you go in expecting to see a movie that is more “fun than substance,” you’ll have a good time. (It’s the film equivalent of a lollipop.) Therefore, I grant it a 3 for the basic crowd, and a 4 for my fellow Looney-tics. (Yes, really.)

Dr. Jerkyl’s Hide

“LET ME OUT OF ‘ERE!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Arthur Davis, Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on May 8, 1954.

Hey, it’s Spike and Chester! Haven’t spoke about either of them since 2014. Oh, wait. I won’t be mentioning Spike after all. His name is Alf now. Because it’s a more appropriate name for a cockney dog, don’t you know? Oh, yes. The two have some nice thick accents this time around. Makes sense. This short’s source material does take place in London.

“Alf” and Chester, (making their final appearances) are out having a jolly stroll. At least, that’s what “Alf” wants and Chester believes. See, Chester looks up to “Alf” as some sort of hero. He’s bigger, meaner, and has people clothes. The kind of dog we’d all like to be. But “Alf” is also a bit of a bully. Smacking the little guy around, demanding he leave, and turning down his suggestions of fun. Chester then plays his trump card. Maybe “Alf” would like to beat up a cat?

That’s the ticket. “Alf” is always up for a good feline thrashing, and the two give chase to Sylvester. Poor cat takes refuge in a building that belongs to a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jerkyl. (And I’m sure at least one of you was planning to tell me I made a typo in the title.) Breathless, due to all the exercise, Sylvester is more than happy to take a swig of what he believes to be soda. (Honestly, can YOU name another liquid with carbonation? Because I can’t. Please help.) But that wasn’t pop.

This stuff, whatever this stuff is, is designed to turn the drinker into a much meaner, much tougher, much scarier version of thyself. So Sylvester grows a couple feet, his eyeteeth grow out, and he gets a murderous look in his eyes. It is then that “Alf” comes in for a pummel. He leaves, white as a ghost. (I like how his shirt changed color, but his hat didn’t.) That stuff only lasts so long though, and Sylvester is back to his normal self when Chester takes a peek at this “scary monster.”

Well, that don’t make any sense to the spaniel. I mean, the cat is actually quite small. Chester could pound him, himself. And logic dictates that if a small dog could do it, a big dog could do it, but easier. Chester drags “Alf” back in, just as they witness their prey escape into another room. Yeah, he looks timid, terrified, and totally weak. “Alf” regains his confidence, and follows after him. (Chester doesn’t follow, for the sake of the joke.)

“Alf” corners the cat in a box, where we see the formula kicks in sporadically. Now powered up again, Sylvester gleefully plots out how we will carve the dog. “Alf” returns to Chester, but falls to pieces. (Probably a good contender for the most violent massacre in all Looney Tunes, and there’s not one drop of blood.) The power wears off again before Sylvester can take on Chester, and the dog proves good of his claim to beat the cat. Now more convinced than ever, he traps “Alf” in the building for his own good.

Sylvester takes this time to flee. (I really can’t tell if he is aware of his transformation or not. Maybe if I read the original “Jeckyll” story, I’d know.) “Alf” sees this and also sees an opportunity to seize. He uses the beakers around him to simulate a fight that he is winning. But one of the beakers he throws was full of more formula, and the stuff lands on a housefly. (And I guess it drinks it. Unless the stuff can be taken topically.) It does its thing, and the fly’s size increases, as does its temper.

Now, the insect is only roughly the size of a hummingbird, but insects ARE immensely strong for their size, and it has no trouble roughing “Alf” up and throwing him out. “Alf” begs for Chester’s protection before the two witness the fly slamming the door in their faces. A big fly, yes, but a fly nonetheless. And thus, the last amount of respect Chester might have had for the big dog is dead. As such, the roles reverse: Chester wears the hat in this relationship now, and he slaps the now hero-worshippy “Alf” around.

Kind of a shame these two had such short careers, but seeing as how this is very similar to their earlier work, there probably just wasn’t enough material to make multiple cartoons.

Favorite Part: How Chester gets “Alf” back into the building: marching him in at gunpoint.

Personal Rating:3