Sunday, May 03, 2015

I, Koko

Another swipe at Disney!  Our next early Fleischer silent "cartoon" is called Cartoon Factory, and it's another fun mix of live action, animation, and Norman Maclaren-esque pixellation.  I guess I wasn't in the mood for it the first go round, but it's also a hoot, just like the previous entry, The Clown's Little Brother.  Of course, computer nerds and robot geeks alike will find the premise laughable today, but back then in 1924 upon its first release, it must have had some shred of ingenuity to it. 
Alas, it's a sad day for the Luddites, as Koko, one of the first Fleischer characters to take to the silver screen, is rather smitten by the first animated machine he comes across.  It's got a robot arm with a pen on it, and its own inkwell to boot.  At first, the robotic drawing arm toys with Koko's emotions, drawing a turkey dinner, complete with knife and fork, then a sexy babe for him to socialize with.  But as quickly as the machine giveth, it taketh away with its other arm with a big eraser on it.  Koko is nevertheless in awe of its power, and climbs up onto it and goes for a ride as the robotic arm roams the countryside, hastily drawing a background in its wake.  Once that grows tiresome, Koko stops the machine and has it draw a house for him... a drawing room, if you will?  Sorry about that.
With his automaton empire almost complete, Koko swings by the Machine Shop, where he puts together a robotic Max Fleischer!  Koko takes the robotic Max Fleischer home, removes its head, puts a little oil on its neck, pulls the rip cord, then turns it loose upon the world.  In a rather immediate display of ingratitude, the robotic Max Fleischer proceeds to start drawing a cartoon army.  He orders the army to charge at Koko.  Madness.  Sheer madness.  Of course, after Koko's finished freaking out, he finds himself battle ready with the trusty auto-cartoonist from before.  Springing into action, Koko has the robotic cartoonist erase the charging army and, if you're at all familiar with the Fleischer oeuvre, you'll probably think of Popeye taking on Ali Baba's forty thieves... oh, do I have to do all the links for you?
After that, Koko turns his attention back to the defeated robotic general.  Koko draws himself a cannon, and starts lobbing cannonballs at the robotic Max Fleischer.  Max starts playing dodgeball with all them cannonballs.  Boy, the crew must have had fun with that, much like Sid Caesar and his famous parody of From Here to Eternity, where the crew took a little too much delight in splashing him with water.
The filmmakers just didn't know how to end this, so the Machine Shop starts assembling robotic Max Fleischers en masse and they all chase after Koko.  Koko dives into the inkwell and they all follow him into it.  Okay, so they don't all hold up.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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