Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's a Million Dollar Mystery to me how I got this far......................

Well, Tom and Jerry live on on YouTube, good news.  The bad news is: they apparently have to appear in some sort of window box.  Nothing creepy about that!  Also, the audio cuts out at the two minute mark... Still, beggars (with the DVD) can't be choosy, so let's take a gander at our next non-Disney film with "million" in the title, and it's called The Million Dollar Cat.  Keeping in mind, of course, that back then a million dollars just might be closer to a billion today, give or take a few hundred million.
On to the setup.  It's quite simple, really.  We start with our usual opening high-jinks: in the instant case, Tom the cat is chucking darts at Jerry Mouse, with only an apple to protect him.  And then... the telegram arrives, which changes everything.  Why, we'd all still hope to get a telegram like this, or even a letter or phone call!  Alas, the rich only say they believe in "trickle down" economics.  Let some other sucker do the actual trickling, am I right?  Needles to say, the stages of becoming part of the upper class seems to come in five distinct stages, and it's basically the Kübler-Ross model, with the order slightly changed.  First comes acceptance: "It's going to be okay.  This sudden change in my economic standing in society's going to be okay.  I can't fight it, I might as well prepare for it."
Then, comes anger... usually over the unintended consequences: inheritance tax, greedy relatives coming out of the woodwork, the fine print.  Much like Warner Brothers' The Wabbit Who Came to Supper, the money is contingent on an extremely binding "non-cruelty to animals" clause which, of course, is part of the bedrock foundations of these animated toons.  Tom soon finds himself saying unto himself, "Why would God let this happen?  It's not fair!"  Anger leads to denial, denial leads to bargaining, and bargaining leads to depression.  If you're lucky and you still have some of that pile of money left, depression may lead to some more bargaining, or you might just have to keep writing checks for "one dollar and NINE CENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Fortunately for Tom Cat, no greedy relatives come out of the woodwork, and we learn secondhand that, indeed, excess money is always a positive influence on people, as newspaper headline after newspaper headline shows the progression of Tom Cat from relatively normal housecat to eccentric socialite.  He bathes in cream for the cameras!  "Sips while he Dips" says the headline above the picture.  But as the wise man once said, mo money, mo problems.  The high on life that excess money provides can't last forever, and it seems like no matter where Tom Cat goes, Jerry Mouse is right there, with that handy telegram, of course.  Boy!  Worse than lawyers, he is.
So, for a while, Tom really, really tries to stay the hell away from the mouse, and be on his best behaviour, but the mouse persists on being a di... a jerk.  I'll spare you the gory details.  Also, I hate to sound like a jaded sophisticate, but ... SPOILER ALERT... Tom finally has enough and, after filling up with angry red juice... so creepy... he tears up the telegram and tries to beat the s... stuffing out of the mouse.  Of course, he's unofficially obligated to point out to the audience the sacrifice he's making... but I dunno.  Are the neighbours really that great?
You can skip this last part, because I'm going to put my own amateur "lawyer" hat on.  First of all... since when does a telegram become a legally binding document?  And why in the world does the mouse hang on to it?  I mean, besides for protection?  The cat didn't think to steal it for himself?  That's just stupid.  I mean, cat plus telegram equals... something.  That's just math.  I know, I know... I'm just not thinking in terms of plot.  And second... if this is a legally binding document, how does the disbursal of funds work, exactly?  Same thing happened to Yosemite Sam in... let me look it up... From Hare to Heir.  And here it is on the YouTubes!  Go figure.  They have to gussy it all up with extras, of course.  That all ends when Rupert Murdoch buys TimeWarner, of course.  And he can do it, too.  He's got clout!  HELLA clout.... what was I saying?  Oh, right.  In Hare/Heir, Bugs moves in with Sam and does much the same routine, pissing off Sam to no end, and Bugs has the right to deduct from the million pound total as he sees fit.  Oh, and he sees fit, all right!  In The Million Dollar Cat, apparently Tom can spend as much of the money as he wants up until the moment of truth... that's what he gets for not investing, like John Candy tried to do for Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions.  I wonder if he'd lose all that too?  Personally, I'm in favor of secrecy clauses.  We need more people acting weird in front of their friends for reasons that they are legally bound to not disclose.  How else are our new surveillor Overlords at the NSA going to have any fun?  How else are we going to have dumb movie plots?
So, for me, Tom's a hero for damning the devil's deal and giving the mouse his comeuppance... sort of.  The mouse is very strong and fast, and can only get hit by the cat when the plot allows it.  Alas, Tom didn't lawyer up like Bill Gates or Howard Stern.  The Fisher King?  Puh-leeze.  Jack Lucas was an amateur.  He should've stuck with the physiological rung of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs like Howard does, which is partly why I'm still pissed off at Howard for giving Tina Fey a pass on the toilet questions!  Does she listen to the show?  Does she?... did I do my riff on Zeno's Paradox yet?  I'll just stick with the Dichotomy Paradox, because I'm no mathematician.  See, it seems like a grammatical problem to me.  Here's the Dichotomy Paradox, according to the gospel of Wikipedia: "Suppose Homer wants to catch a stationary bus. Before he can get there, he must get halfway there. Before he can get halfway there, he must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a quarter, he must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on."  See, this Homer's a chump, and needs a good lawyer, who would change it to "Suppose Homer wants to catch a stationary bus. Before he can get there, he must get halfway there... then, he must get the other half of the way there."  Problem solved?  I think so.  I may be the only one on the web who does, but so be it.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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