Tom And Jerry Fur Flying Adventures Volume 1:
Ahh, Tom and Jerry, what perverse hold do you have on the juvenile mind? As a young one lying slack-jawed and staring on the couch during my better days, I didn't give the duo much thought. They were just cartoons that held place amongst all the other cartoons that I attempted to squeeze in from my very waking hour until my head hit the pillow at night. In truth, I was always a Bugs Bunny guy - and have since then, until now held that particular dichotomy as something as intractable as preferring Coca Cola over Pepsi (or vice versa). Never mind the fact that writers, directors and animators were shared between the two Warner Brothers cartoon families - the Tom and Jerry vibe is distinctly Hanna-Barbera. Yet, watching these 'toons with my 5-year-old daughter has taught me something. The sight of these two immortal combatants beating the tar out of each other over and over is hilarious.
I hesitate to even approach this collection while occupying the same website as my far-more-knowledgeable colleague Paul Mavis, but suffice it to say, I'm no animation buff. But what I do know is this collection of 14 shorts (about 10-minutes apiece) appears to span a great deal of the Cat 'n' mouse career, veering not only between eras, but also between aspect ratios. (If your TV set won't automatically make the adjustment, be prepared to toggle in between fullscreen and widescreen as the 'toon necessitates.)
These 14 selections collect stories in which the fur flies. In fact they may even be adventures - trips into space are involved, after all. Then again, donnybrooks over proper barbecuing techniques also crop up, so any thematic relevance might need to be inferred. The upshot is, even mild-mannered girls will be moved to riotous, apoplectic fits of laughter by the sight of a cat run over by a lawnmower, or gonged into oblivion - rendered wavery and wobbly while hovering over a swimming pool - for instance. And that's what it's all about. It's why America's Funniest Home Videos has been on the air since the dawn of time. People think it's funny when you get hit in the crotch by a football.
Of course the cartoon's ability to warp time and space, rendering objects to act in ways that defy physics, while making the subject look really silly, is the real draw here. And perhaps that's why Tom and Jerry trumps the more clever and intellectual exploits of Bugs Bunny and friends. You need not understand or even pick up on references to Wagnerian Opera to understand Jerry hitting Tom on the head with a frying pan.
Contained herein are these 14 fur flying adventures:Barbecue Brawl, Happy Go Ducky, Hic-Cup Pup, Little Quacker, Rock 'n' Rodent, Neapolitan Mouse, Pet Peeve, Pup on a Picnic, O-Solar-Meow, Robin Hoodwinked, Guided Mouse-ille, Timid Tabby, The Vanishing Duck and That's My Mommy.
Three shorts are produced by Chuck Jones, imbuing them with a different air that is more situation-driven, rather than representing a simple set-up to get the cat and mouse duo to fight. Three feature bulldog characters Spike and son Tyke, while a little duck features prominently in four shorts. Drawing from various styles and eras of Tom And Jerry allows this collection to appeal to a wider base - the Chuck Jones shorts will engage older viewers, (parents) while the others allow your child to delight in comic violence. If this collection has taught me anything, it's that kids love comic violence.
All shorts preserve their original theatrical release ratios - hurry for OAR! That means that you'll veer wildly between 1.33:1, 1.85:1, and 2.35:1 ratios. If your TV doesn't automatically compensate, keep your remote control handy to switch things around. The cartoons themselves look great, with just a hint of grain and hardly noticeable film damage. Colors are rich but mostly understated, and compression artifacts are non-existent.
Digital Mono Audio betrays no defects, though obviously it exists in a totally basic realm.
Two Trailers and a Spanish Audio Track, plus English SDH subtitling are the sole extras.
This collection of Tom and Jerry short subjects is too circumspect to please serious cat and mouse fanatics, but as a nostalgia trip, or a way to reduce your pre-schooler to tears, it does the job just fine. Rent It for a fun rainy afternoon or two.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com