MGM Studios (1964-2008), Warner Brothers Home Video (October 4, 2011), 1 disc, 100 mins., 1.33:1 ratio, Dolby Digital 1.0, Unrated, Retail: $14.98
The love-hate relationship continues with everyone’s favorite cat and mouse duo, Tom and Jerry, in the third volume of Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures in yet another eclectic collection of cartoons from the past and present.
The Sweatbox Review:
The past two Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures DVDs were a compilation of grab-bag episodes from the entire run of Tom and Jerry cartoons. While researching volume three, I discovered that Warner Brothers Home Video did not venture far back in the archives to make the track list for this collection. Everything is either from the Chuck Jones era or the last TV series Tom and Jerry Tales.
When I popped the DVD into the player, I crossed my fingers and hoped that the menus from the first DVD would not appear. They did along with minor alterations citing the volume number, but that was it. I can surmise that all DVDs in this series will reuse the same menus, because Warner Brothers is aiming these cartoons at kids and they really don’t care about DVD menus. The first three shorts in the mouse and cat montage are from Chuck Jones: “Ah, Sweet Mouse-Story of Like,” “Bad Day at Cat Rock” (both 1965), and “Jerry, Jerry, Quite Contrary” (1966).
All three episodes have a shallow storyline with the main focus being all of the hijinks and gags Tom and Jerry play on each other. “Ah, Sweet Mouse-Story of Like” and “Bad Day at Cat Rock” are semi-connected as both plots revolve around defying gravity on rooftops and high-rise buildings. The normal chaos ensues and they are over before you can blink, but “Jerry, Jerry, Quite Contrary” goes on for a little longer. Tom and Jerry are trying to go to sleep, but they keep waking each other up in a non-sleep war. What surprised me about these shorts was how the regular violence was transformed in Loony Tunes bits, but they were altered to fit Tom and Jerry’s regular tone. It’s strange to see moves reserved for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck on a feline and mouse. Part of my brain also kept thinking about How the Grinch Stole Christmas, possibly because they were made not too far apart. By this time he knew the characters and probably felt he could experiment more with them. The animation is also cleaner than Jones’s earlier Tom and Jerry shorts.
After these three came “Beach Bully Bingo” from Tom and Jerry Tales; the animation suddenly got brighter and puffier like someone inflated the legendary characters with Botox and Japanese kawaii. Tom and Jerry put aside their differences for a day at the beach, where they meet old friends Spike and Butch, except now they are bullying muscle heads. They have been reinvented with the new show and their classic characters don’t come out. It works, but I’m not really pleased with what has been done with Spike and Butch. In “A Life Less Guarded,” Droopy makes his first appearance. Droopy was another MGM character, but he never appeared with the cat and mouse duo until the 1980s, but his most notable appearance with them was in the 1990s series Tom and Jerry Kids where he had a son named Dripple. Jerry doesn’t appear much in this cartoon; instead Tom and Droopy compete for a lifeguard job by completing various dangerous tests.
The next few cartoons have a winter theme to coincide with the upcoming holiday season. In “Northern Light Fish Fight,” Tom and Jerry go ice fishing and battle each other using the winter wonderland as the field of honor and “Doggone Hill Dog” reintroduces Spike and he forces the cat and mouse to join him on a sledding “adventure.” Both are regular Saturday morning fare, good enough to pass the time, but forgettable.
“Love Me, Love My Mouse” (1966) gives us a break from the subpar stories of Tom and Jerry Tales. Tom and his favorite female queen, Toodles Galore, fight over whether if Jerry will be eaten for dinner. Tom wants to eat the poor little mouse, but Toodles adopts Jerry and uses her domineering female powers to force her beau into submission. Yet she cannot deny her predatory nature and Toodles’s stomach gets the better of her. Watch this episode very carefully for even more Grinch similarities. It is not uncanny that they appear, given that Jones directed both shows, but it is strange to see similar body movements and facial expressions on two unrelated enterprises.
As soon as “Sasquashed” started I knew it was going to be annoying. Tom, Jerry, and his nephew go camping and Big Foot was sighted in the area. Tom wants to find Big Foot, but the mice (with their horrible overbites) help the strictly vegan creature escape. Big Foot has an effeminate voice and is the only main character that talks. He breaks monster stereotypes by being the clichéd opposite.
“Shutter Bugged Cat” (1967) saves us from the modern Tom and Jerry adaptations, but it is a clips episode. Tom watches home movies about his best and worst chases with Jerry. Clips were pulled from earlier cartoons: “Part Time Pal” (1947), “Nit-Witty Kitty” (1951), “Johann Mouse” (1953), “The Yankee Doodle Mouse” (1943), and “Heavenly Puss” (1942). He studies the films to create a plan a la Wile E. Coyote to capture Jerry, but he fails like his counterpart.
The snow theme continues in “Snow Mouse,” where the pair meet an abominable snow mouse who tries to destroy them. It’s the usual chase where Jerry and Tom team up to fight a common enemy; it’s cute but not very exciting. I don’t have much to say on the this cartoon, because if you are a Tom and Jerry fan you have seen it hundreds of times before. It’s more of a filler than anything. After all, how many times can you watch an unoriginal chase scene?
An early Chuck Jones short “The Unshrinkable Jerry Mouse Jones” (1964) follows. The story goes that Jerry is Tom’s slave. All is quiet and calm, until a new kitten arrives in the house. Tom immediately hates the competition and tries to dispose of the adorable baby, but Jerry saves the day and teaches the mean old Tom cat a lesson. What I enjoyed about this one is that it allows there to be a bad guy. Nowadays, to counteract the bout of bullying dominating headlines, Tom would realize the kitten is not so bad and he would then share his milk with her. This way Tom gets his just desserts for being mean to Jerry and the mouse also gets a new friend.
The last two cartoons are less than amazing. “Spook House Mouse” puts the two in a scary carnival fun house with ghosts and other Halloween castoffs. “Don’t Bring Your Pet to School Day” is about what would happen if Tom and Jerry were pets competing for a gold star at their owners’ school pet day. The slapstick violence between Tom and his owner reminds me about earlier Tom and Jerry cartoons with the politically incorrect character Mammy. The little girl is not armed with a broom and is actually more violent than a child should be. I guess that’s where the humor comes in.
The cartoon playlist has more of the latter cat and mouse cartoons than previous volumes, which lack the dynamic flare the older shorts have. Watching the entire run straight through drags until the more creative Jones cartoons come on the screen, but they go by so quickly it is hard to enjoy the DVD. Mixing the classic with the new does not work for Tom and Jerry, unless you choose the episodes carefully. Think of it as putting your iPod on shuffle and getting your least favorite songs between themes to your favorite cartoon shows, not really appealing.
Is This Thing Loaded?
I can sum this part of the review up in one word: nope. As this is a DVD meant to entertain the younger masses, whom are usually more interested in the feature presentation, there are not any special features for the adult cartoon fanatic or curious viewer to watch. It is more proof that not much capital was invested in Fur Flying Adventures, but they have hopes of turning a small profit. As I mentioned above there are trailers on autoplay: Happiness is Peanuts: Snow Days and The Loony Tunes Show on DVD. When I went to looked them up on the animated menu, the trailers don’t match what’s on the autoplay feature. Instead they’re Tom and Jerry: Wizard of Oz and Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur. It’s the same stuff that was on volume two, much like the menus.
Out of all three volumes in this series, this DVD has the best cover art, perspective, and character renderings. A warm fire glows in the brazier lighting up a cleverly detailed room. Jerry is sitting in a teacup armchair with a cup of cocoa and a marshmallow. Underneath the chair is a white doily, also in the room is a small sled, a window, red curtains, and a cute picture of Tom kissing Jerry (a screenshot—possibly from a Chuck Jones cartoon). The window’s glass is frosted over and Tom is outside smiling, though I wonder when it’s obviously freezing outside. The pair appear to be amicable friends on the cover, but on the back they return to their old relationship. They’re ice-fishing and it looks like Tom is trying to outdo Jerry, who is sitting on a matchbox beach chair (kudos on the detail again). The characters on the back look really…for lack of a better word…funky. Jerry has an under bite and Tom’s size looks off. A description of the DVD and a list of the cartoons appear on the back. There are not any special inserts inside the eco-friendly single-disc case. The DVD, itself, has a picture of the two characters and the series name all in red.
Ink And Paint:
After watching the first two volumes in Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures I really didn’t expect much in digital restoration other than making the images clear and keeping them in line with TV quality. My expectations were actually defied. All of the Chuck Jones episodes are preserved with bits of dust here and there, but they are bright and cheery enough to compete with some modern cartoons. I kept double-taking and saying to myself, “Man, that is clear!” The clips in
“Shutter Bugged Cat,” however, are not restored. The Tom and Jerry Tales are, of course, digital with the mass-produced animation that will keep your attention as long as it is on screen, but disappear from your memory unless it is burned on your retina. Okay, maybe I’m being a little harsh—the quality is decently average. The character designs make the characters softer, fatter, and ugly. In this manner they are more kid friendly, which is who usually watches these cartoons, but back in the day they were intended for adults because they were too violent. Kids loved them, however, and when the original audience grew up they allowed their children to watch them and thus the cat and mouse were regulated to the kiddie pool. But couldn’t the character designs have stayed on the deep end?
The sound is as good as the restoration of the cartoons: average mono standard. It fits in with the quality of the cartoons and, honestly, if they had fixed the sound more than the actual cartoons it would sound weird. Good news for all region one DVD/Blu-Ray people, every dominant language in North America is somehow represented on this DVD. The spoken languages are English and Spanish, while the subtitles are English, Spanish, and French. The French-Canadians are left out in the vocal track department, but it is in their favor that most sound effects are a universal language.
To be honest, while Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures Volume 3 has some of the best cartoons that Chuck Jones ever did for the cat and mouse duo, the Tom and Jerry Tales pieces dim their light. The newer shorts are longer, rely on recycled plots found in any cartoon, and have annoying side characters. Jones’s creations, however, put a new spin on the tired cat and mouse chase and will surprise you at the end. Warner Brothers Home Video did not really try with volume three, the DVD menus are the first sign, and it makes me wonder if further additions to this series will get worse. Once more I restate that Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures will keep the children occupied for one hundred minutes, but do not expect to be entertained if you are over eight years old. If you are interested in purchasing this DVD it will probably be at your local drugstore in the dollar bin.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?