Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Jerry Mouse Has a Cousin in the Bronx

Variations on a theme.  Well, that's how it goes when you've got a small family like Tom and Jerry.  The Simpsons, on the other hand... how many characters do they have now?  About as many as there are episodes!  And yet, the Simpsons manage to stick to fundamentals, as have Tom and Jerry in their own way.  And so, once again, Tom doesn't know exactly what new character is attacking him this month, but he tries in vain to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances in our next Tom and Jerry short, called Jerry's Cousin.

ACT ONE

Who is beating up the cats of "Hogan's Alley"?  That's a play on something I don't even feel like looking up right now.  All I know is the music sounds a bit like this section in Have You Got Any Castles?  Boy, there's a lot more of the racist stuff in there than I thought.  Anyway, as you can guess from the title, we eventually pan over to the center of the carnage hurricane and... yup.  It's a teentsy weentsy mouse doing all the ass-kicking on the cats.  He's got the motivation and the skills, so why not use the gifts the screenwriters gave you?  You'd think the cats on his home turf would have learned by now, but I suppose this is for the benefit of the audience by way of introducing the character.
And then, soon after, we get the episode that will consume the time of the rest of the feature.  This be-muscled mouse just happens to be related to Jerry.  "Muscles" Mouse is his name, and he gets a letter from Jerry, which he reads in his mind.  Now... I love Paul Frees as much as the next film buff, but... I know, I know.  What can I say?  I'm picky!  He just doesn't feel like this character, not the way Mel Blanc would have, for example.  There must be others!  But it is what it is.  Frees definitely made his mark as Narrator Extreme and as Boris Badenov, his trademark character from the Rocky and Bullwinkle TV show (not the 2000 movie.)  Why, I've got a crappy 16mm print of a Bozo the Clown cartoon with his voice on it, for God's sake!  How do I end up with this stuff?  Something about my face, I suppose.
And so, the extra-strong mouse leaves town for a while, as we watch the cats still awake and alive scramble to get out of his way.  Welp, so much for that old saw about the country mouse heading to the big city!  Besides, Jerry already tried that once... the title escapes me.  But he ends up running back into Tom's hateful paws, showering him with kisses.  And for once, the cat shrugs at the audience, thinking WTF... could someone else look that up for me?  Huh?

ACT TWO

It's probably a little premature to start Act Two, but here goes anyway.  Scene: the home of Tom and Jerry and, yes indeed, things are as bad as Jerry said in his letter.  Why, look at how Tom throws the lit firecrackers into Jerry's hole in the wall!  I should be ashamed at myself for finding that amusing.  It's The Yankee Doodle Mouse all over again... I tells ya.
But don't worry.  The filmmakers won't let the mouse suffer too much.  Jerry's got a nice sturdy piece of wood to hide behind as the firecrackers explode.  And then, when the third firecracker we've seen clatters on the ground and prepares to explode... in comes the fixer.  Why, it's almost as if "Muscles" Mouse were in Special Forces or something!  Without missing a beat, "Muscles" scoops up that firecracker and marches it right back outside, as though it's just another day.  Well, Lord help the cat in Hogan's Alley that tries something like that.
And then, the mouse sticks that firecracker in the cat's mouth and... well, it's moments like these that are what Instagram is for.  I'm no good at clever words to match images, however.  ..."And you thought YOUR day was bad"?  Something like that.  See, you kids today don't know how good you have it!  Why, if we wanted to take a still frame of something twenty years ago, why, we'd need to use some sort of film camera or something!  And even if the picture turned out, we'd still have to take it around one by one to show to people!  Of course, the richer kids had online bulletin boards and stuff, but those were mostly for video games and hookups... or was the phone still used for that?
Anyway, moving on.  "Listen, pussycat," says the mouse.  Boy, if I had a nickel for every time an animated character said that to Tom Cat.  I'd be as rich as that Megauploads bastard... but I probably wouldn't have as many assault rifles.  And so, the ultimatum is issued, and the cat gets tossed across the room for good measure.  The cat lands in a vase, and the fortified mouse spits at it, cracking the vase.  I just can't believe the Hays Code let this pass through its filter.  Reminds me of the spitting character from Thundering Taxis.  ...I guess I won't try too hard to think of others.  That's what Vines are for... ooh!  Dylan Baker in Planes, Trains and Automobiles!  Okay, but THAT'S it!... damn.  The Program, The Waterboy, Strange Brew...
Next scene: as you might expect, the ultimatum didn't take.  Tom's gotta protect his home turf from usurpers and intruders... you know, kinda like Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show!  We see Tom lifting some weights and stuff.  And then, after a few seconds... boom.  Giant muscles.  If only it were that easy in real life.  Tom must be juicing or something.  And so, after that brief workout, Tom is ready.  Ready to take on anything, even a roided-up mouse.  Why, what else would he need?  He's got the outfit!  A red sweater with a giant "T" on it!  Isn't that enough?
And Tom's transformation couldn't come at a better time, or worse, depending on your view of things.  Why, look at those two rodents, helping themselves to crackers.  Ayn Rand's worst nightmare!  Socialism!  Our bags of grain under attack!... oops.  Better quit while I'm ahead.  Anyway, Jerry Mouse is apparently a little unsure about his cousin, because he's about to eat a cracker, when he gets an eyeful of Tom on his way over.  Jerry hightails it out of there, and "Muscles" just stands there, looking confused.  Well, it's kinda nice to see him without his trademark scowl, I suppose.  Not as unusual as Charlie Sheen smiling, arguably.  Anyway, and so, "Muscles" turns around, perchance to see what Jerry was fussing about.  "Muscles" sees Tom.  Tom begins the conversation by bringing his fist down upon "Muscles"'s head.  "Muscles"'s hat has become stuck over his eyes, so "Muscles" fixes that, first of all.  Now, in addition to his strength, and obvious hatred of cats, "Muscles" also has a few tricks up his sleeve... mainly, his inflatable fist.  And so, because Tom struck with his fist, "Muscles" responds in kind... sending Tom flying across the room again.  This time, Tom destroys a whole wall clock.  And as you know, I'm always looking for great audio to sample, and my new favourite sound clip in the whole wide world is the sound of Tom falling to the floor.  Good orchestration by... whomever.  Scott Bradley.  I knew that!  I totally knew that.  And I won't even call him the Carl Stalling of MGM... whoops!  Too late.
Next episode: since brute force is failing him, it's time for a little strategy.  And it couldn't come at a better time, seeing as how our two rodent friends have captured Tom's home base: his basket for sleeping.  I thought everyone put the cats out at night back in those days!  Anyway, Tom's going to use our old friend, potential energy, to help him out this time.  Tom cuts a hole in the ceiling right above the strong mouse, but the strong mouse is so sure of himself that he doesn't even notice the sawdust falling from above like little angels of warning.  I guess it's a common phenomenon in Hogan's Alley, and the sawdust there's probably a lot tougher, too.  More asbestos and what not.
And so, Tom prepares his projectile: the good old reliable bowling ball.  Why, Tom rarely even uses one on Jerry!  As far as I know.  Oh, this whole situation is making Tom far more violent than he normally is.  Next scene: Tom's bed proper, where Jerry's cousin doesn't know what is about to hit him.  But you gotta admire the comic timing... am I the only one?  I thought so.  Welp, this is why I'll never be hired as a comedy writer for either Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  I guess it's all about guest appearances these days, the modern comedy.  And so, somewhere far below Jerry's level, Jerry's cousin has plummeted, much like Beetlejuice after him at the end of Beetlejuice, when the sand worm thwarts B's plans for marriage.  Tom quickly runs down the spiral staircase to fix Jerry's wagon.  Oh, I've just never seen Jerry quite like this either!  Normally in this type of deal, Jerry at least holds up his tiny hand, giving Tom the universal signal for 'halt', and ever the sucker, Tom usually obeys it.  No, Jerry just stands there in the middle of the rug, looking scared, and Tom stands there, poised to strike.
And then... up from the basement, comes Jerry's cousin, holding aloft the bowling ball.  Muscles rolls the bowling ball and hits a strike... damn, I'm good!  Brought it almost full circle.  Also, it's all Jerry can do to run out of the bowling ball's way at the last second.  In a way, Jerry's a victim, too.  But once again, I've seen ahead, and Jerry's anguish, if any, is only temporary.  The two opposite mice will find their equilibrium.
And so, the ten pins of Tom pull themselves together and out of their stunned state when they see the strong mouse approaching.  Tom runs into the kitchen and out of our view... hmm!  He seems to do that a lot.  Muscles runs around the corner and catches up to Tom.
Next conflict: Muscles finds Tom, all right; that's the good news.  The bad news is Tom's got a two-barrel shotgun.  I know this is the wrong blog and all, but man, that's the one bad thing about playing Doom I.  You only have a single-barrel shotgun in that one!  Okay, back to the cartoon.  I seem to recall another instance of Tom wielding a shotgun... wonder if I blogged about it as extensively as I have here... nah, too many instances.  I use the word 'shotgun' too much, apparently.  (a little later) Okay, I found what I was thinking of.  I was thinking of Texas Tom... oh, right.  Anyway, the strong mouse thwarts Tom's plans to shoot him with the shotgun.  Much like he inflated his fist earlier, Muscles blows into the barrel end of the gun, and the two shells pop right into Tom's eyeballs.  Just for good measure, the strong mouse walks up the body of Tom, carrying a hammer, and... yup, a hard smack right in the back of the head, causing the shells to fire, leaving Tom with a pair of shrapnel contact lenses, so to speak.

ACT THREE

Even though Tom didn't appear to be hurt by the shotgun shells earlier, after the iris wipe we find Tom at the telephone, wearing a pair of sunglasses.  Well, that must've gotten a laugh or two!  Kinda like the time Jerry sawed him in half and... ah, memories.  Well, still less cruel than Two Gophers from Texas.  Anyway, in Texas Tom, Tom was about to shoot Jerry at point blank range with a six-shooter, when Jerry blows on the barrel, putting all the bullets in Tom's mouth.  Jerry ends up with the gun and hits Tom in the back of the head with it... exploding all six bullets at once.  I wrote it then and I write it now... DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!
And so, it seems that Tom has had enough... at least, on his own.  Time to fight fire with fire.  In some ways, the phone is more powerful than the pen.  Anyway, it's faster to text than write stuff down, so it seems!  The Newton was just too slow, otherwise we might be enjoying a Cursive Renaissance right now.  Anyway, we see that Tom is calling a corporation called "Dirty Work Inc."  I'm guessing their storefront isn't as nice as the one in the 1998 film Dirty Work.  After the work order is placed, the receptionist and his two buddies march off to get that durned mouse.  There's a weird sproinging sound in their step for some reason; I guess that means they're extra tough or something, like a big guy named 'Tiny.'  I hate to think ahead, but my money is still on Muscles Mouse.
Tom's nervously pacing to and fro by the front door, when the telltale screech of a car coming to a halt is heard.  Tom perks up and opens the door.  In come the three tough cats.  Tom points in the direction of the offending mouse and, with that sproing in their step, off they go to meet their doom.  I mean... how many cats did Muscles beat up at the top of this pic?
We get some scuffling and what not, explosions, breaking furniture... and then, Muscles' trademark hat flies into view.  Muscles climbs out of the hat, puts it back on, and marches back.  It's his turn now.  We get more scuffling and what not, even more broken furniture and... was that a lightning strike?  This bout of off-screen carnage seemed a little more fierce.  And then... we see Muscles getting a broom and a dustpan.  Tom hides out of the mouse's sight, but he still wants to see for himself... my God!  The tales of the Chosen Mouse are true!  True, true and horribly true!  After Muscles has taken out the garbage, Muscles whistles for Tom.  Tom runs over and supplicates himself as best he can, but I don't know if Muscles finds it truthful.

EPILOGUE

Muscles has to get back to his home turf.  Things have gone straight to hell in the five minutes he's been gone.  But Muscles actually uses a bit of brain for once, as the Stooges so often say.  One last parting gift for Cousin Jerry: it's a matching Muscles Mouse outfit!  "All ya hafta do is whistle," says Muscles before he departs.  Ginius!  Jack Brown Guneis!  Jerry, of course, has to try it out.  He puts on a sufficiently tough expression as he marches out of the mouse hole, then he whistles.  Tom runs up, like Biff at the end of Back to the Future 1, and supplicates himself once again, kissing Jerry's foot.  Jerry switches feet, and Tom kisses the other one.  Somehow I don't think this is going to last, because Jerry looks at the camera with a happy expression on his face.  Tom is eventually going to notice that.

****
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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