Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Next Tom and Jerry: Josie and the Pussycats.... I mean, Jerry and the Goldfish
We start with the fish snoring away in its bowl... do fish sleep? Can they even close their eyes? Hmm. So many questions. I guess ichthyology just wasn't in the cards for me. And then... the mouse shows up, looking excitedly at the fish bowl. Too weird for me. Usually the cat does that. Usually the mouse is just minding its own mouse business, but clearly he's out looking for trouble now. Jerry taps on the glass and wakes up the fish. The fish swims around in small circles. Jerry breaks off a hunk of the disc he's carrying and throws it in the air over the bowl. The fish leaps up like some kind of trained dolphin or a Pavlovian sea monkey and grabs the bit of food. Now, this is how dumb I am. I'm assumpting that it's a piece of cheese... or is it? Is it a) cheese, b) a slice of banana, or c) some kind of cracker? There's arguments for each, of course. It's probably cheese, but why would he slice the cheese like that? Or is it some kind of pre-Ritz cracker? After all, the mouse hands the rest of it to the fish, and the fish dunks it in the water. Why would the fish do that with a bit of cheese? And banana, well... you'd think that that would be the easiest for the fish to digest.
After the food has been eaten, Jerry pats the glass and the fish rubs up against the fish bowl at that spot. See what I mean? Jerry's pet fish. Just plain wrong.
Cross-fade to Tom, who's listening to the radio. See, I'm uncomfortable with this relationship, too... or am I? After all, the radio did warn Tom about that lion in that one... let me check the box here... Jerry and the Lion, it's called. In three weeks, Jerry's Cousin. You know, the one from the country with the stutter. Sheesh. Anyway, back to the radio: teacher, mother, secret lover. This ought to eat up some time!
And so, at a mere 1:56, Inception is complete. No need for fancy dream-invading hardware here! One ordinary recipe, and the cat is hooked. Fish is on the menu. If you're in the right mood for it, the perfect setup. If not, it's still the classical dramatic structure: one party wants the fish for long-term friendship, the other for short-term gastronomical gain. Short-term doesn't deserve to win, for some reason. Better broaden the moral base of this proverbial Herbrand universe.
And so, the cat is off and running, expending energy. Energy is force used to perform work. Work is a series of tasks to achieve a goal... I'm ready for that PhD test after all! Sorry, I'll try to focus now. Tom slinks up the chair, disappears behind the arm rest, then his head pops up from behind said arm rest. Look at that mischievous grin on his face! Surely Chuck Jones did the animation! I'm reminded of his Grinch cartoon.
Cut to the sleeping fish. Spoiler alert: the fish bowl is resting on a table. And yet... a few seconds later, the table starts to move! GENIUS! Visual genius! Another spoiler alert: the table gets turned visually on the cat at the end of the pic. Surely Kubrick directed this cartoon! Anyway, back to the action. Staying committed to the visual gag, Tom carries the table all the way to the kitchen, then slides the bowl onto the oven range, then turns up the heat. Diabolical. Tom licks his over-salivated chops, then proceeds to get the other mundane vegetable ingredients of the radio recipe. I'm reminded of Eric Idle's fish-feeding sketch for some reason. Of course, he did it on both Monty Python, and Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels' answer to Monty Python. How does Lorne sleep at night?
Tom chops up some carrots, and the carrot discs hit the poor fish on the head. See, this is one of the joys of cartoons. You try something like that in real life, and boom. Several government agencies and non-profits are all up in your grill in particular, and the general public in general is probably in disgust at you. Tom stirs the fish bowl water with a spoon and takes a sip. Even the fish's dirty water tastes good! Well, store-bought fish somehow doesn't excite the palate as much.
And then... FINALLY. Jerry shows up, but he's just meandering along at the pace of Jones. But when he deigns to look up, FINALLY he's in shock. Good Lord. The fish is half way to death's door already! Well, Tom... I mean, Jerry springs into action. Why, he opens up the oven door, kicks Tom inside and slams the door upon that mean ol' cat. Meanwhile, the fish and bowl are still on that burning oven! Do they want to kill that fish? Do they?
Next scene: Jerry's carrying the bowl out of the kitchen. FINALLY!!! The fish is on the road to recovery. Boy! So not only is the mouse super-strong, but its hands are super-insulated, or maybe he cooled off the bowl somehow. Wouldn't it be hot? Or maybe it's like how Michael Caine was suddenly dry when getting out of the water in Jaws the Revenge... I'm sorry, that's Jaws: The Revenge. Gotta make sure I get that right... this is a blog, after all!
But despite Jerry's best efforts, that fishbowl is too cumbersome and too prized. Tom the Raging Foodie cuts Jerry off at the pass, so to speak. And by pass, I mean the other end of the kitchen, where he waits for Jerry to pass with the bowl. Jerry keeps running, holding his hands up, not realizing the bowl's gone. The mouse is slipping, I tells ya! He's losing it! Or maybe he doesn't care about that fish as much as he thought! That's my take on it. But the mouse does indeed make up for lost time. How, you might ask? How else? The mouse gets a baseball bat and hits the cat in the legs with it. Unfortunately, FOR THE FISH, Tom drops the bowl on the ground, and the fish and the water go flying high up into the air. Boy! Tall ceiling. On the plus side, the fish bowl doesn't break. Well, on the instant replay, the bowl moves as though it's made of Jell-O when it hits the ground, so there's something going on there.
Acting quickly, the mouse picks up a drinking glass, and catches some of the water in it, and then the fish. I'm telling you, darlings, this is clearly an abusive relationship. That fish needs to get the hell out of there.
And so, in the cat and mouse's endless game of rock-paper-scissors, Jerry heads for that hole in the wall, but at the last second, steps to the left instead, and the cat crashes head first into the wall. The cat lays unconscious... but is blocking the hole in the wall with its giant head! Fortunately, the cat is positioned so that the mouse can carry the glass with the fish in it through the cat's head via its ears. We see them make their getaway through the cat's eyes. Notice that the mouse's hole in the wall is now tall enough to accommodate the drinking glass. I smell a rat. The cat wakes up, looks angrily at the hole, then disappears to come up with a devious new strategy.
ACT TWO AND A HALF
The coast is clear. The mouse's face lights up when it sees the empty fish bowl in place on the table. Somehow that doesn't seem like it should be the goal at this point, but never mind. Oh, The Movie Hooligan, searching for logic in a child's cartoon. A fool's errand. And so, the mouse quickly runs with the glass with the fish in it over to the bowl. Jerry pushes the glass as close to the fish bowl as he can. The fish climbs up out of the glass and jumps back into the fish bowl... almost. Yup, there's Tom with a skillet. The fish lands in the skillet with a couple of tiny thuds, and Tom takes off for the kitchen again. I can't think of a finer babysitter for our kids than this cartoon. Well, it can't all be Sesame Street, right? Sesame Street doesn't teach you street fighting tactics, does it? Does it encourage strategy and emotional intelligence? The world has too many Toms in it, and they're winning.
Tom's getting a little savvier in his cooking, too. Tom dips the fish in flour and puts it back in the skillet. But Jerry's close behind this time! Tom throws the fish into the air, and where it lands, he does care this time, and he catches the fish in his mouth. Well, Jerry takes that skillet and bashes Tom right in the face with it. When the skillet is removed, we see Tom's frozen expression on his face, and those giant un-cat-like teeth! But even the gag writers get tired of the same old broken fragments of teeth falling out, so this time Jerry opens the teeth as though they're Venetian blinds. The fish climbs out, but at least it's not wearing any flour anymore! Back into Jerry's temporary glass and on the run they go again. Reminds me of the time I read about how salmon are carried in trucks in order to get them up the Columbia river... or is it down? I guess it's a two-way trip. Sorry, fish, us smart people own the river now. Kinda glad I'm not an engineer.
Jerry's got a tea cup with a big red stripe this time. You know, so the fish has some room to stretch out, and cling to the rim of the glass and watch as the cat chases them. And chase Tom does, but he doesn't seem to be giving it his full effort. It's almost as if he's not too anxious to catch the fish! And after the various beatings the mouse has given them, I don't blame him. But he shows his resoluteness in a different way this time. After bashing into the radiator, why, that crazy cat climbs right through the damn thing and crawls out the other side of it shaped like an accordion... a radiator-shaped accordion. And by God, he was rich! And then, after smashing into the mouse hole, why, he climbs right through that hole and follows Jerry and the fish around inside the walls. We have to imagine that part. I guess Tom's getting so emaciated from a lack of food that he's able to do that now. Anyway, he pops out the other side of that mouse hole, because Jerry's got two entrances to the wall. Tom ends up shaped like a long arch-shaped loaf of bread, but he did it. He went into that wall at 17, and came out at 21 with a fist full of diamonds. And by God, he was rich!!! (still need the link? All right, here it is....)
And so, Tom keeps chasing while holding his ridiculous new shape, so unsuitable for either long-distance running or short-distance sprinting. Go figure. Jerry has to put a stop to this madness, so he picks up an iron and holds it proudly. Frankly, I can't blame him. If I were a mouse that could lift a heavy iron, I'd be kinda proud, too! And, indeed, Tom smashes right into it, as though it were pre-ordained somehow, but this is one iron that he's not going to crawl through and pop out the other side. But his face is iron-shaped now! Reminds me of that Brian Regan special we just saw. GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, Tom wasn't able to go through that iron, but he exits Stage Right in a rather gooey fashion as though he were going through the wall or the radiator again. This time, he's heading for a gun on the mantle. Like all crazy white people, the owners of the house keep two loaded handguns over the fireplace. You know, in case the fire ever gets out of control. What could possibly go wrong? Tom aims and fires. Now, he misses the mouse, but he does shatter the glass, thereby liberating the fish from another one of Jerry's fiendish rescue attempts. Foodie Tom triumphs again. And once again, Jerry notices much later than he should have that the fish is gone. That fish needs to find new friends.
To Jerry's horror, Tom is now roasting the fish over an open fire in one of those ... you know, those things you hold a fish in when you're cooking it outdoors... do people even use those anymore? Man, this cartoon is exhausting me! Reviewing cartoons is a young man's game. Anyway, the mighty mouse manages to drop a giant brown kettle over the cat, then hits the kettle with a fireplace prodder, causing the kettle to vibrate like a bell. Incidentally, what's brown and sounds like a bell?.... oh, right, you have to pay for Python on the YouTubes... or do you? Tee hee hee...
Well, this move bought Jerry a couple seconds, and to add more insult to injury, he's got no glass to carry the fish in this time. Jerry heads down a long corridor. Tom stops at the end of it. Now, sure, Tom could just run after the mouse and fish, but he's tried that already in this picture. Time to D.Q. Something Different... this is insane. YouTube is insane!!!!! Anyway, time to take a page from Heavenly Puss. With no piano in sight, and a completely level stretch of ground, time to snap the carpet again.... AND THEY'RE OFFFF!!!!! Jerry and Fish in the lead, but Loop in the Carpet is gaining fast. Loop is two lengths behind, Jerry and Fish are trying to stay ahead and... oh, it was over before it began! Jerry is down and the fish is flying through the air with the greatest of ease once again... or, actually, I should phrase it once again like this: the fish flies through the air, and where it lands we know not where. Somewhere different, hopefully! And... spoiler alert... HUZZAH! Into the toaster. Well, it's still less cruel than Two Gophers from Texas. Arguably, not by much! It's a quick toast, as the fish pops up after about five seconds or so, and Tom's got the fish in the bread! His only mistake was that he took too long admiring his handiwork, giving Jerry enough time to stick Tom's tail in the wringer. That's because Tom is clearly not a real cat. Any time I try to tie my cat's tail to anything, well, she's biting my wrist that second, and frankly, deservedly so. Thank goodness for me she hasn't figured out how to sever the artery yet! Tom screams like a human and grabs on to the toaster. Oh good! Maybe he'll get shocked to death... nah, he and the toaster end up flat on the floor. But the orchestra seems sympathetic to Tom's new dimensional crisis.
It appears that Jerry has decided that the fish bowl is no longer a haven that is safe... duh, ya think so? And so it's back to the hole in the wall. Alas, Tom is ready once again! This time he's got a steamer with locking lid. Once the long-suffering fish is within, on with the lid and back over to the oven. But just before that... diabolical. The cat's a quick learner! Tom drags a dresser over and places it in front of the mouse hole. Boy! Good thing this is the Third Act. If it were the Second, it would mean that in the Third Act, Tom would either a) kill Jerry and eat the fish in peace, or b) tie Jerry up somewhere near the oven and make him watch as he finally cooks the fish and eats it. I guess mouse meat doesn't go well with fish, as that would be the c) option.
Jerry tries to push on the obstruction in front of his mouse hole, but it's no use. There must be another way out. Well, mass electrification of the homes of average citizens was still relatively new, so Jerry climbs into the socket and finds his way out that way... thereby creating the premise for Shocker. Well, not everything can spawn so many sequels and Saturday morning cartoon shows.
And so, with similar determination that the cat showed earlier, Jerry jams himself into the socket, squeezes all the way through, and finds his way to the kitchen, where the cooking is underway. But now that victory is complete (premature actually, of course), why not take the time to dice up some more vegetables? The ones from before found their way out of the fish bowl, and frankly just outright disappeared completely.
Now, this is the Third Act, which in cartoons usually means that it's time for the heavy explosives... a lot of 'em. But this is a delicate exfil operation, so finesse is called for, and even though the mouse has the strength of ten men, he's only got one stick of dynamite to work with. Now, in cartoons, dynamite sticks are typically red in nature, but again, a subtle operation, and so Jerry's stick of dynamite is called orange. Boy, you really can get anything at that Acme store! And so, Jerry makes the swap, trading a carrot for the orange dynamite stick. GINIUS!!!!! Ginius, I spells ya.
And so, in more blatant plot devices, the cat has removed the fish from the boiling water and is now sitting on it. You know, so he can add the sliced vegetables. Oh well, we've all been that excited before. You're on your way to the motel to get it on with your slutty co-worker... you're bound to drop your car keys at least once. And so, the mouse doesn't have to create a distraction or unlock and open the steamer pot himself to save the fish. No, it's a simple swap, really: Jerry does a quick exfil of the fish and replaces said fish with Tom's own tail. Again, a real life cat would notice this right away. Tom quickly picks up the stick of dynamite and slices it up like he's Mario Batali or something, and he just as quickly sticks his own tail into the pot and locks the lid on it. Well, that's how it happens, you know. You're more likely to lock yourself out of your car if you're in a rush than, say... not in a rush. Right, Oscar Wilde?
The marching red pain travels up Tom's tail slowly this time, apparently because it's heat-based and not, say, the usual electricity or a flood of angry neurons alerting Tom's brain that his ass has been stabbed with... whatever. An olive fork, let's say. Tom screams like a man in pain and starts running around. It's assumed that Jerry and his pet fish are out of harm's way. And in even more blatant plot devices, Tom doesn't think to unlock the steamer from his tail. The pain's just that urgent and great... bad great, that is. Sensing that the steamer's about to explode, it's all Tom can do to get the front door between he and the raging pot. Tom crouches on the other side of the door, and boom.
Tom pulls on his tail and... free! A little charred, but free! But wait... what's that loud whistling noise? Plus, it seems kind of windy out here on the porch. Notice how tight the shot is on Tom and the door and the porch. We pull back ever so slightly and... GINIUS!!! MORE GENUIS, I TELLS YA!!!!
Also, brilliance x 2. Everything seems okay... kinda like a relaxing Kevin Costner at the beginning of A Perfect World. When in fact, Tom is now headed away from the Earth. And the animators have gone to the trouble of actually animating the Earth falling away this time, and not merely relying on a single picture of the Earth and using the zoom lens to pull back or, more likely, the arm of the animation stand to raise the camera up....................
Alas, what has become of the cat is far too gruesome to show, so let's just go to the two tiny victors in this scenario. The explosion from that one carrot-colored stick of dynamite was powerful enough to send the cat into orbit, yet the fish and mouse remain unharmed. More plot device. Well, that's the risk you take in comedy or, in this case, drama: it's an ever-escalating arms race between the plot holes and the vehicles you try to drive through them. But it would seem that the fish and mouse are unharmed and, more importantly, relieved that they have removed from their world their biggest, most aggressive enemy. It is now a time of peace, as there are no new enemies on the horizon but themselves and government agents... and the realtor and the milkman, what have you. Thankfully, the animators are bad at drawing people. And, why look! The mouse is now swimming around in the dirty water with the little fish! No more patronizing pats on the glass. Equanimity achieved. Still, if I were that fish, I'd try to hop on the first train out of town and get the hell away from that little bastard of a mouse. That mouse is nothing but trouble, and a little unreliable in times when there's a life and death crisis every thirty seconds.
Good triple bill with: Fin 'n Catty and Pinknic
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan