Wednesday, August 06, 2014

All Cats Go To Heaven... Seriously, No Matter What They've Done

Oh... now we're talking.  For those of you who need concrete proof that Tom and Jerry is the inspiration for Itchy and Scratchy on The Simpsons, our next Tom and Jerry should suffice.  The title?  Mouse Trouble.  But really, when you get right down to it, isn't this what all Tom and Jerry shorts are about?  I guess it all depends on who you relate to more.  If you relate more to the cat, then boy, you ain't kidding!  If, on the other hand, you relate more to the mouse, why... you just might take umbrage, as well you should.
Now, sure, I could just sit here and be all cynical about the plot, noting how it's similar to Two Gophers from Texas or even Brother Brat to an extent, but really, the conceit of cartoon characters using a book to help them achieve a specific goal is kind of an old one... ooh!  There's that part in Wabbit Twouble where Elmer reads from the book about grizzly bears!  But it's hard to complain when the cartoon is made as well as this.  Also, the filmmakers dip their little toes in Recurring Gag Lake, as the cat suffers setback after setback.
But let's get on to the plot.  And so, just like the evil liberal legislators wanted to start putting a skull and crossbones on packs of cigarettes, Tom the cat is similarly trying to step up his game by getting a book in the mail.  The book?  "How to Catch a Mouse."  (A Random Mouse book... get it?  Random Mouse!  ...see, there used to be these companies called publishing houses.  They would make books... I know, right?  They were like Kindles, but without the constant electromagnetic hum.)
Part of the joy of Mouse Trouble is cataloguing the ways in which the mouse outsmarts the cat... over and over and over again.  It starts right away as the cat tries to read his weaponized text in peace.  Tom goes through the whole book, chapter by chapter... even though all the advice seems to be summarized in each chapter's name.  You can probably guess my favorite is chapter 3, what with all the twangy sound effects and all.
Now, before Tex Avery made each millisecond of these cartoon proceedings so action packed, once upon a time things got padded out... you know, kinda like with the Stooge films.  The "curiosity" episode goes on a bit too long, as does the "surprise package" episode, which the South Park boys must have learned something from that one time that Kenny got cut in half with a chainsaw.  See, you just can't rush something like that!  You gotta stretch out the time, savor every moment, what have you.
...ooh!  Just remembered.  There's also the last straw in The Aristo-Cat when a book informs the cat that, in fact, the mice are the small, manipulative creatures and the giant bulldog isn't.  And so, just like the end of Back Alley Oproar, it's time for Tom to gather all the giant explosives he can and blow that little jerk Jerry to Kingdom Come.  In addition to his toupée, that's where the recurring hiccup gag pays off.  It's a bit like Tom Selleck's loss of parts in Folks!... anyone?  Okay, skip that one.  Personally, the fuse gag in Back Alley Oproar's a bit funnier, but why nitpick?  I mean, why?  Anyway, after the explosion, much like the rocket fuel truck in Armed and Dangerous, somehow the space around Jerry's mousehole is okay, but the rest of the house... nay, the landscape to the horizon is a charred ruin.  That's when we see Tom headed for heaven with harp in hand on his little cloud.  I guess they give you a free flight up to the Pearly Gates before they pass judgment on your feline ass.  Personally, if it weren't for that package scene, this would be a four-star classic for me.

Good double bill with: Cue Ball Cat

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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