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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN (1941)


Once upon a time . . . Max & Dave Fleischer were the only animators who tried to adopt the Disney model of costly cartoon features. MR. BUG (also known as HOPPITY GOES TO TOWN and as BUGVILLE in the current Legacy DVD release) was their second and last shot at the form. It’s a big improvement on their better known GULLIVER’S TRAVELS/’39, but when it came to narrative & emotion, the Fleischers proved unable to think big. Hoppity is a sort of James Stewart character who tries to lead all the insects in his ‘town’ to a new home when their city lot comes under attack by developers. There’s a trio of villains to overcome (two of them channeling Abbott & Costello) and a lovely lady bumblebee to strive for. Even in this mediocre transfer, the film has a lovely & wildly inventive look, great gags and a tasty little score from Frank Loesser & Hoagy Carmichael. In fact, it’s a modest delight. But it won’t haunt your dreams like classic Disney, like DUMBO which came out just a month before this.

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