Thursday, September 18, 2014

Big Fish

Well, school's starting anew, so alas, dear reader, I've decided not to devote my full attention to my movie case load.  But who knows?  Maybe this will improve my writing.  Besides, when you've got a classic like Cat Fishin', sometimes less is more after all.  Story fundamentals!  Lush painting-like backgrounds!  This was before Hanna and Barbara put all their money into sprawling estates in the Valley, and less work into crappy direct-to-TV cartoons.  More profitable that way.  It's just good accounting and/or economics.  Take your local pizza place, for another example.......
Where was I?  Oh, right.  Yes, even though I was a WB loyalist when it came to cartoons in my adolescence, the occasional Tom and Jerry like Cat Fishin' just warmed the cockles of my heart.  Also, to help me inform my thinking about Itchy and Scratchy.  Alas, Tom and Jerry's not as influential these days as Itchy and Scratchy, go figure.  Anyway, here once again Tom proves himself to be a symbol for the middle-class weekend warrior, rallying against the big power structures in society that prevent people and animated cats from having fun.  And as he took up golf in Tee for Two, his new hobby here is the art of fishing.  First step in fishing: finding a nice spot.  Of course, all the really nice spots full of fish just dying to be caught are fenced off and guarded by bulldogs, the animated cat's natural enemy.  Tom mistakenly wakes up the dog, after the dog takes a big bite out of the cat's leg.  And this is while the dog's sleeping and thinking it's a nice juicy soup bone!  Are bones really that good?  Do dogs really need that much calcium?
I still remembered the music when the dog's looking around, and Tom frantically moves to keep out of the dog's line of sight, clutching all his gear at the same time.  And once again, I'm haunted by those words of advice that old Gypsy woman gave to me after I hit her with my car one rainy night.  I rushed over and, as she lay dying, she whispered to me "...you know, dogs can't look up!"  This factoid serves Tom well when he... well, I hate to spoil it, so I won't.  It's just that good.
A quick getaway won't pad the film out to one reel, so Tom drags the dog a little bit accidentally with his fishing rod, when the hook gets caught on the dog's collar.  What Tom does to prevent the dog from falling... why, he's pretty much asking to get found out.  But in a way, it's the act of a movie hero, is it not?
And so, Tom begins the fishing.  Of course, with a fishing spot this fine, no mere lure will do.  Enter the mouse, sitting in the "Live Bait" section of Tom's toolkit.  The mouse was asleep, but wakes up and looks disgusted to see Tom.  Ah, animators.  God bless the good ones.  The mouse helpfully hands the cat a colorful lure as an alternative, but no.  Tom's made up his mind.  It's go mouse or go mome... sumpthin' like that.
ACT TWO... I thought I was going to keep these briefer!  Go figure.  Anyway, it's time for a new character.  Enter the Nelson Muntz fish, a big mean looking thing that's got fangs like a vampire, and an attitude worse than the character on the albums of Ugly Kid Joe.  Oh, I'm just an old feebe.  To cut to the chase, this bad-ass fish starts chasing Jerry around the lake.  Tom grabs an oar off the pier and waits til these two get close enough, and WHAM!  The waters of the lake are a little less exciting now.  Apparently, as decreed by cartoon physics, Tom completely missed the fish, but Jerry's got an angry red bump on his head.  Jerry knocks Tom into the water, then puts a lure on Tom's tail.  The fish looks at Tom's tail with the lure on it, and Jerry Mouse helpfully shakes Tom's tail around.  The fish doesn't seem to react to this at first, but then it grabs onto Tom's tail and really really won't let go.  Tom lets out a different yell... oh, that can't be good... and a mighty, epic struggle begins.  As for the struggle being iconic or game-changing, it's hard to say, so I'll leave that for others to decide.  To cut to the chase, Tom eventually wins the tug-of-war, but the fish ends up flying towards the dog.  Tom is powerless to stop it.  It's like a train wreck waiting to happen.  The dog yawns, and the fish ends up inside the dog's body, but eventually bounces back out.  The fish slaps the dog and exits Stage Left back to the lake.  The dog eventually sees Tom and is not happy.  Tom eventually gets away from the dog, and tries to catch that big fish once again.  Well, aim for the stars, shoot for the moon, right?  It's why Stallone's protegé wins at the end of Driven, ...because he has to.  He just does.  So nyaah to the rest of the world.

ACT THREE
Time for Jerry's latest act of arbitrage.  As a bait master, Tom gives Jerry way too much freedom.  Jerry swims all the way over to the dog, and ties the line around the dog's leg.  An epic struggle ensues.  The cat eventually overpowers the dog, go figure.  All hail the power of fishing!  And, of course, what Tom and Jerry cartoon would be complete without some senseless violence?  The dog going between those two rocks that are a little too close together, am I right?  Ah, I may never forget that now.  Jerry cheerfully hands a club to Tom, so he can beat his catch senseless.  That is, until he realizes it's actually the dog.  Ah, comedy.
There's a brief bit of diplomacy between the cat and the dog's angry red head lumps, but then it's time for the role reversal.  Now it's the mouse who's got the fishing rod!  Jerry's in a tall tree, and he's dangling the cat for the dog to bite at.  Why, the irony of it even surprises Jerry, apparently!  Reminds me of the part in the original The In-Laws where, just before Peter Falk shoots the banana truck, he says "Sometimes I'm so smart, I scare myself." ...something like that.  I don't know why, but the cat always underestimates the strength of that mouse!  For our benefit, apparently.

****
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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