Real name: Carl Padgham
Review Star Average: 2.25/4
Keyframe's Managing Editor, animation critic and researcher (and former videogame critic). I'm stingy with my stars, so donít expect a lot of high scores from me, a profile has to really work to earn its balls of fire facsimiles.
Presently, I review animation based on how they bear up to the peers in their respective categories - features-to-features, DTVs-to-DTVs, etc - rather than try to unfairly compare a high budget feature film with a low budget direct-to-video. Call it a category concession if you will.
I hope to never let nostalgia affect my reviews, but then nobodyís perfect. My favourite animated cartoons tend to fall between the original "Golden Era" and the late 80s to early 90s. My interest in animation goes back years. I enjoy playing video games but tend to find their animated adaptations range from awful to okay - I could say a similar thing to game adaptations of many animation licences.
While I may prefer traditional animation to CGI, I can watch almost anything and think that the story and characters are more important to a film, etc, than the medium of animation used in it.
For what it's worth, I have Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism.
My Star to 10 scale ratio:
4.0 stars = 9-10 - Superb: One of the best films you could hope to see in your lifetime - insofar as I'm concerned, a rare gem in animation achievement.
3.5 stars = 8-9 - Great: That film that entertains all the way through, and never truly flounders, but is still missing the spark that seperates the great from the epic.
3.0 stars = 7-8 - Good: A film, etc, that is good, but not great, something you'd watch again, but might not go hunting down the Blu-ray or DVD - at full price - for.
2.5 stars = 5-6 - Mediocre: Straight down the middle, while it's watchable, you won't call it actually good per sť. On the flip side, neither is it actually bad.
2.0 stars = 3-4 - Poor: Not so bad as you cannot get through it, but you might not care to watch it again anytime soon, or remember anything about it immediately after it finishes.
1.5 stars = 2-3 - Terrible: Maybe there some redeeming factors, but they are few and far in a overwise horrid production.
1.0 stars = 1-2 - Abysmal: Practically unwatchable sludge. or as close to it as makes no odds.
Animation, Drawing, writing, reading (animal novels, fantasy, sci-fi, animation history), videogames, and radio comedies. Not necessarily in that exact order.
Animation that I love:
Theatrical Shorts, Animaniacs, Astro Boy (all versions), Count Duckula, Lilo & Stitch, WALLēE...
As for the short itself, it's a total non-entity, much like the other Screen Songs that Famous made (Fleischers were, typically, more creative with theirs). Maybe it wouldn't be as bad if there was any sort of substance along with the blatant racism, but no, the blackface bit is the only thing of note, because there's nothing else to distinguish this from anything else. This includes the mountains of other shorts that you could watch instead, most of which you'll be much better off with. Indeed a part of me would state that you'd be better off watching any of the dozens of samey Herman and Katnip or Baby Huey shorts the studio churned out, at least at their worst they only insulted your intelligence.
A typical gag involves a - very bored looking - blackfaced kangaroo playing the banjo at one point, with the joke being that her joey is the one plucking the strings. And a mouse in a quartet having the deepest voice. At the 3.53 mark the screen blacks out, almost as if it's embarrassed at what's it showing (from memory this happens with most of the Screen Songs when the song part of the short came up).
Then, as this is a Screen Song, we get to follow the bouncing ball, as it follows the lyrics to the titular song, in this case the Minstrel Show ditty, Capetown Races, forgive me if I don't play along with you Famous. It was probably something of a novelty in the theatres, at home by my computer, it's not something I'd indulge in, even with things outside this title's subject.
Animation is okay, nothing more than to be expected from the studio at this point in time. If there was one thing Famous Studios had was decent animation and animators, so I'm inclined not to give them further marks just because the animation is as good as it usually is.
The short should never have existed, yet, of course, it does and we're kind of stuck with it, because to not acknowledge that it happened is to edit history and well, history is there to be learnt from, less it somehow finds a way to repeat.
Ultimately we're at a point where even flash animation has to achieve a certain level of competence in it. This is mostly due to seeing web flashes were the animator/s at least put in the effort. Falling, like so many others of its type, is almost the antithesis of this. At least a part of this may be due to the time that and manner that the product was made, but then it was prevalent then, very much so, and some of these had something vaguely meaningful to say.
Hey, some of them were made by actual talent as side projects. In 2012, this would be something I'll expect from the worst-side of Indie-gaming, and thrown out with fits of laughter from the inter-webs. Or maybe that's just what I'd like to be the case.
It's not as overtly egregious as The Evil Strawberry, which had no redeeming quality whatsoever, but it doesn't have anything resembling substance either and doesn't offer anything that I can say is, worth seeing.
Down and Outing is just another forgettable entry in this series of failed shorts that make some of the crud that was made-for-TV at the time seem well animated; almost. It almost as bad a level as Colonel Beep. And this was created for theatrical showings. The fact that Tom and Jerry were put through this shows just how little their artistic value meant to their paymasters at MGM.
The animation is cheap and lifeless and has no grounding in art of any kind, let alone animation. The humour is lifeless, petty and as indifferent as those who created it and the sound, from the effects to the "music" is horrendous (and sounds like it was recorded in a small room with minimal equipment). There's no love here, as you'd expect from hiring a studio to quickly throw a product together without anything to work with, and no interest in the characters beyond the payroll they brought.
MGM's motto, displayed prominently on their logo is "Ars gratia artis" Latin: (Art For Art's Sake), a mantra that rung truer over a decade prior in terms of their animation output, when their output suggested that they were at least striving to live up to it, rather than trying to line their pockets.
Worth the effort to avoid, as much as possible.
Chilly and his pal Maxie the Polar Bear, are singing a song in their igloo, which annoys a local - unnamed - Captain, who storms in and smashes Maxie's guitar over him. Once he's done this he returns to his cabin and turns the radio on, right at the moment when an announcement happens that sets up the rest of the plot. The plot revolves around the Captain trying to capture Willy, only for Maxie to stop him.
The animation for the song is repeated throughout the cartoon, with a slight change in lyrics being pretty much all to differentiate each scene from the last. None of the characters do anything of note, leaving the short feeling like bland filler, which was properly as intended. The level of animation is no better than any cartoon TV series of the time, and the cartoon was probably shown at least once on The Woody Woodpecker Show.
There is the reasoning that Walter Lantz's budgets where some of the lowest in the industry (and that's when he started), and that it's unfair to hold a Lantz to the untenable standards of Warner's, let alone a Disney. Yet there are certainly much more worthy Chilly - and certainly better Lantz - cartoons out there, generally those from prior decades. In terms of the library of theatrical shorts out there though, your time would be much better of elsewhere.
Essentially, there's just nothing here, and in the vastness of the theatrical ocean, nothing is not worth seeing.
This short is a piece of garbage, the art is blatantly copied from Broomstick Bunny and Duck Amuck, and in some cases even the dialogue is copied as well word-for-word; itís ridiculous and will probably make you wonder why you arenít watching those two shorts instead. Infuriating while this may be, it also marks the best animation in the short, as everything else that is not copied is 1960ís TV quality, in that it has no place being on a cartoon under the Warner Bros. shield.
However the worst part of this short is the writing and pacing of the short. The setup of the plot takes up far too long and is so convoluted that it is pointless, the synopsis I wrote is the most coherent I could make this mess. And while it has no redeeming qualities as a story it neither does it have any redeeming features as entertainment, it plods along so slowly and is so ineptly written that there isnít a funny line in any shape or form throughout the whole film.
I expect better from both companies, but this is lazy crud beyond belief, itís a boring, badly made, incompetently put together short made for fiscal reasons rather than entertainment ones. In the end itís a worthless piece of celluloid that doesnít deserve to exist, let alone be put on one of the Golden Collections.