There is a really fun series I do over on my youtube channel that I normally post on my other blog smilingldsgirl.com called The Friday 5. It was set up by a fellow youtuber named Sarah Crawford and each week she picks a topic and we have to choose 5 of our favorite songs that fit that topic. Normally my other blog is more suited to music but since this one involved animation I decided to include it on this blog this week.
This week’s topic was ‘5 of your favorite themes from TV Shows” and since animation is my favorite I decided to go with that.
I think they are 5 really fun themes and 5 great shows. If you haven’t seen them you should totally check them out. What are some of your favorite themes from TV shows, animated or not? I would love to hear. I do this series every week and next week is wild card so if you have any suggestions of a fun topic I could pick put in the comments section. If any of you have youtube channels it’s a very fun series to be a part of.
I’m watching Wall-e tonight but before I post about that masterpiece let’s talk about the great animated short Presto. If you haven’t seen it I think it is one of Pixar’s funniest shorts with some terrific character design.
As most of the shorts are this is pretty simple and it does repeat the same gag over again but each time it gets bigger and more humorous. It has the feel of an old Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry short.
It’s about a magician named Presto and his hungry and rather grumpy rabbit named Alec Azam. The design of the rabbit feels particularly old school and I think it is very charming.
So basically the story is Presto has a real ‘magic trick’ where 2 hats are connected. Whatever you put in one comes out the other. This gif kind of shows how it works.
At the beginning the rabbit, Alec, is in a cage and he wants the carrots but in his rush Presto forgets and rushes to the perform. This makes Alec very upset.
Alec tries to tell Presto that he needs the carrot in order to participate in the magic show but he refuses making Alec angry and out for revenge.
Alec even worries he is going to lose the carrot for good! I love this expression!
That’s when instead of jumping in the hat like he is supposed to Alec uses the hat’s magic to send things out of the other hat to strike Presto. It is very funny with everything from a piano to eggs hitting the magician.
Meanwhile the crowd is thrilled with the crazy trick Presto is doing. I mean wouldn’t you be if you saw such things flying out of a hat! They give Presto and Alec a huge round of applause and even though he is weary Presto is thrilled with the response (as any performer would be). And of course in the end Alec gets his carrot.
Like I said, this short feels very old school like something you would see in Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry and I like that. It escalates the madcap antics just enough to produce a laugh at each level (you couldn’t go from a mousetrap to electric shocks. It needs to be gradual). I also love the design of Alec, the rabbit. He is so cute and expressive with his eyes and face!
Presto is also bright, colorful, with great music that fits the old fashioned feel by Scot Blackwell Stafford. It was veteran Pixar man Doug Sweetland’s directorial debut and he used Tex Avery cartoons as his guide and you can feel that influence .
All in all it is one of my favorite comedic Pixar shorts.
This really isn’t a Scrooge Month review but I’m honestly running out of versions so I thought it would be fun to talk about the Looney Tunes. I love the Looney Tunes. Last year I caught a lightning round on amazon and was able to get the complete Looney Tunes collection on DVD and as I watched them I was so impressed with the animation, intelligence and great laughs. I finally understood why they were such formidable competition to Disney for so many years. They are brilliant.
Then I heard about a new show that ran from 2012 to 2014 and my friends told me it was horrible . Just the drawings convinced me of that fact but I hadn’t watched an actual episode until this project.
I mean just look at these characters. Look how weird they look. Daffy’s beak is strangely shaped . The eyes are off. There are characters I don’t remember seeing.
In contrast look at the original.
The proportions look right . The characters we all know and there is a sense of fun about it. The new is so unpleasant to look at.
But I always say that with good writing anything can be good so I sat down to give both old and new versions of a Christmas Carol a shot. See what you think
New (Just a clip since it is 22 minutes but it definitely gives you the idea)
To me there is no comparison. Neither really has anything to do with the Christmas Carol but the old is actually funny in a Home Alone style way with pratfalls and great music cues that add to the humor. The new is Lola, a most unfortunate character, bossing everyone around and talking about manicures. The whole episode was crass and trying to be modern and sarcastic. The voices are also off. Let’s just say whoever they got is no Mel Blanc… Urgh! That’s not Looney Tunes. Warner Brothers should be ashamed of themselves! I’m serious!
They have a brilliant legacy to uphold and if you are going to stick Looney Tunes on the label you better make sure it is bright and creative and funny. Not cool, hip, lazy and unpleasant looking. I’m telling you if they mess up with Animaniacs there will be no end to my wrath.
In contrast look at the recent Mickey Mouse show by artist Paul Rudish and how it respects the old shorts but adds a little bit of modern humor.
So in conclusion Warner Brothers I want more of this…
Phew! These package films are rough going. 2 more after this. The end is in sight…
I think for the first couple I was a little bit nicer than I should have been. They really are awful but I figured they had little to work with with the war, but I was thinking today recently I watched the Looney Tunes gold collection boxed sets and their golden era was also during the war and they were much more creative and funny and well done than any of these package films. My thoughts on Looney Tunes can be found here
So, I’m afraid I’m going to be tougher on Fun and Fancy Free, Ichabod and Mr Toad and Melody Time. I can tell you one thing I have never looked forward to watching Cinderella more in my life.
But today we are talking about Fun and Fancy Free. I don’t know if it is better or worse than the other package films or I’m just getting tired of them but certainly it is very thin gruel and in a way Make Mine Music took more chances so was more entertaining.
First of all, the name Fun and Fancy Free is a misnomer because there is nothing fancy or free. Fun is a toss up. It consists of two longer animated stories with Jiminy Cricket narrating and then it changes to a party with Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy and kids.
Released in 1947 Fun and Fancy Free was an attempt by Disney to keep the studio afloat after being basically co-opted by the US Government for propaganda films. However, as I will show later other studios are still producing good animation at this time period so I am less forgiving of that excuse.
I am also so tired of music like this with the choral singing and long swaying loud instrumentals. It’s so boring and forgettable. It worked in Bambi because it was used in a few songs that were part of the plot but these 40s choral introductions are the worst. (I guess this is Dinah Shore and I’m not a fan)
The first segment Jiminy introduces us to is called Bongo and it is a strange piece of work but where Make Mine Music did strange for 6 minutes this is 30 so it tried my patience more
Bongo is a circus bear that yearns to live in nature outside of his circus cage. Eventually he breaks free and struggles with the forest where all the bears are three times bigger than Bongo except for one girl he immeditely falls in love with.
Disney at this point is big on the instant love but that is so boring. Even for an animated short it is boring.
But then it takes an unexpected and perplexing turn when the girl bear slaps Bongo as hard as she can. He feels sad but then he learns that evidently bears in the forest show love for each other when they slap. There is even a song about it…
I’m sorry Disney but I can’t endorse your Say it with a Slap song unless it’s a Saturday Night Live parody…
So that’s all of Bongo
Then Jiminy gets invited to a birthday party. And at this party is a little girl, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy (and other puppets). I know that Bergen is practically the father of ventriloquism and a comedic genius in the minds of many. However, I don’t think this particular movie is a good showcase of that ability. I hate to say it but I could see his lips moving every time the puppets spoke. Sometimes very visibly making the words with his mouth. I wish I could find a clip to show you.
Like I said, I’m sure he is brilliant but just not in this movie. It ends up coming off as kind of strange bordering on creepy.
After chit-chat we get to the best but still frustrating part of the film
Mickey and the Beanstalk
In this piece we tell the story of Jack and the Beanstalk but with Mickey as Jack. Mickey is living as a farmer in Happy Valley. They are happy and everything is growing because of a magic harp that plays peaceful music.
The harp is stolen and then the town turns to ruin. This leaves Mickey, Goofy and Donald with basically no food. The situation is bleak and low.
The starvation makes Donald have crazy eyes and do strange things with a hatchet.
Then Mickey goes and trades the last cow for magic beans which of course become our beanstalk leading the giant who in this film is a big duffas.
In a strange choice they decide to make fee, fie, foe, fum a magic spell where the giant can change into anything he wants; although why he picks a giant pink bunny is never really explained. I might pick a dragon or eagle. Just saying
Mickey and the gang find the harp and need to take it from the giant which they do relatively easily. And seriously it all resolves in like 5 minutes. The harp is rescued and Happy Valley is back to it’s happy self.
Oh and the giant ends up in Hollywood looking down at Edgar and the little girl’s party. (A little strange to have a man, little girl, and 2 puppets at a child’s party…)
Mickey and the Beanstalk is fine but not especially memorable. Aside from the giant having magic there is no attempt to make it different and even those powers aren’t really used in an interesting way. If there ever was a phoned in fairy tale this was it. The only thing that makes it of real note is it is the last time Mickey is voiced by Walt Disney.
To see a much funnier and original version of Jack and the Beanstalk watch the Looney Tunes Jack Wabbit and the Beanstalk.
I think most people would agree Looney Tunes for the win.
It’s funnier. It’s shorter. It’s stranger. The iconic characters get more to do. It’s just more creative and interesting.
So, that’s it for Fun, Fancy Free. A bear that learns to slap women to show love (great message for kids…) and a 40 minute fairy tale bit that Warner Brothers did better in 7 minutes.
I hate to say it but this is my least favorite Disney so far. It’s not creative, funny, beautiful or unique. Bland, bland, bland and the live action sections don’t work and are awkward.