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Cartoon Hell #2 – “Mr. Piper and the Story of Ali Baba”

December 13, 2007

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

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After completing my first entry for Cartoon Hell I discovered that watching the entirety of “150 Cartoon Classics” in order was going to present some problems both for me and for the reader. As it turns out, all cartoons of the same franchise are played back to back in this collection, so if I was to review them in order, you’d have about the wacky, bouncing, jazzy adventures of Tom and Jerry (that’s right, still neither cat nor mouse) for about 4 or 5 installments, and frankly if I watched that many back to back I’d start bouncing to the rhythm in my daily life unconsciously.

So I’m going to start skipping around, seeing where whimsy and the information on the back of the box takes me. I flipped over the case and scanned the titles, and the first one that caught my eye was “Ali Baba”. When I popped this gem in, I was shocked, SHOCKED to find out that they’d shortened the title to fit in their limited text space. The title is “Mr. Piper and the story of Ali Baba”. Who is Mr. Piper, and what was his involvement in this classic tale?

The first sounds you hear on this cartoon are the whimsical sounds of a deep baritone singing: “Come with me, come and see, all the wonders there will be…” Searching through other titles in the same area of the DVD, I found out that there are several titles that also start with “Mr. Piper and the….”, so odds are I’m going to be able to sing this god damn song verbatim, and I intend to at every opportunity.

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When we finally get sight of our titular Mr. Piper, the word that pops into my head like a shotgun blast is “corpulent”. He just puts me on edge. I don’t want to make any wide sweeping presumptions about grown men who wear pied piper outfits and lure children in with songs, but he seems like someone who’d refuse to give a straight answer when asked why he needs the darkest window tint possible on his cargo van.

He lip sings along with the theme song, but when they cut to him using his own voice, it’s clear that this weasel-voiced man is not responsible for the dulcet tones of the intro. I may have to do some wiki-research later, because I think he’s lurking somewhere in Louie Anderson’s family tree.

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At any rate, the pedo-piper asks us if we’ve ever wanted to find a great big treasure, and before we can answer, we’ve been whisked out the window and into a cartoon that actually manages to out-ugly old Rocky and Bullwinkle episodes.

Seriously, the scenery here looks like the awful landscape paintings I remember from elementary school text books.

If it seems like I’m stalling in describing the actual cartoon, that’s because I am. I always found the Ali Baba story to be painfully boring, and making it into a terrible cartoon surprisingly hasn’t helped matters.

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Ali Baba is cutting wood in the forest, and by that I mean he’s holding an ax aloft for roughly twenty seconds while the narrator does his thing. These animators ain’t got wood chopping money!

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40 thieves arrive in something that looks like a giant, heinous fart cloud and their leader yells “Open Sesame” at their hideout’s door, which is cleverly disguised as a large rock with a door in it. Once the bandits leave, Ali Baba abandons his wood enters the secret rock with a door in it.

He discovers a wealth of jewels and gold dumped on the floor like a preschoolers toys, and declares, “This can’t all be their’s, they must be thieves!” How horribly judgmental Mr. Baba, maybe they just have bad credit?

So of course he takes a bag of gold for himself. Baba’s gots to get paid son.

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At this point I realized Ali Baba resembled genitals. I can’t even clarify exactly why I feel that way, but look at the picture and tell me you don’t think the hair they drew on him looks inappropriate.

When he arrives home with the metric butt-load of gold his wife is first amazed, and then decides to get a scale from Ali’s rich brother Cassim to get some base figures on what we’re actually looking at here.

The Cassim’s wife doesn’t know why they’d need a scale, so she drips wax onto one end of the scale for reasons I can not clearly determine unless she’s just trying to fuck up Mrs. Baba’s need for accurate measurements.

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Once the gold is measured and the scale is returned, there’s a coin stuck to the scale, which indicates to the rich woman and her husband that they have indeed been counting money. I don’t understand what transpired at the Baba house that would lead to this….

“Husband, there’s a coin stuck in wax on the scale!” She cried.

“Stand back my wife, that’s upper class wax! It’d just as soon kill you as sit there!” Ali Baba replied.

“But it’s just-”

“No, let your soul gobbling djinn of a sister-in-law fight the wax for the trinket!”

These coins are almost as big as their hands at times, you don’t simply neglect to notice something like that.

The sinister brother must know how Baba came by such wealth, so he follows him to the bandit hideout, and after Baba leaves he too yells “Open Sesame” and enters the cave. To my amazement, he then yells “Close Sesame”. Maybe I’m overly cautious, but it’s a cave, that door is probably the only opening air enters from. And of course being the jackass of the story, he forgets what the password is when he’s ready to leave.

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That’s when the brother, who I find sort of resembles Larry Tate from Bewitched says, “Open Bill Bellamy? Open Ron Jeremy? OPEN JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE! Damn, what was that simple, three syllable word I already had to use twice?”

If the thieves had even shown up a half hour later, they might simply have found an asphyxiated fat guy with impeccable taste in silk fabrics in their entryway. But no, he held unto life until the head thief said the secret words.

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The rich brother in law appears at the door less like a man whose just realized he’s stealing from dangerous criminals, and more like Oprah just told him there’s an amazing prize under his chair. Unfortunately his prize is merely a free stabbing.

When her husband doesn’t return, the rich wife goes to the Baba house and confesses, expressing her concern. Ali goes to the thief hideout and retrieves the corpse of his rich brother in law. This is the extent of the discussion on topic for the rest of the cartoon, like the rich sister just asked them to pick up her dry cleaning. “Just drape my husband’s corpse over the chair in the foyer, I’ll have the maid deal with it.”

In his haste to deal with the corpse, Ali leaves the door open, and the thieves realize someone else must know. Their tactic is to have someone scout through town, and when they look through Baba’s window, they see quite the spectacle.

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See just how crazy the get rich quick lifestyle is? That wacky bastard is trying to smoke fine wine in his hookah. The wealthy sure do know how to live. Clearly this must be the man who stole their stash, old-money would know how to act with class.

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The head thief concocts a scheme wherein he will pose as a merchant of oil and bring along 39 jars worth, all of them full of thieves rather than oil. When the time is right they would pop out of their jars and extract their revenge.

Something that’s never quite made sense about this legend is why all 39 men needed to be included in this caper? Is the entire Baba family trained in the deadly arts and they’re expecting heavy casualties? Is the entire thief operation so codependent that no one was willing to hang back at the hideout? I just don’t see why you need to darken the skies with thieves to kill one oblivious idiot.

The head thief arrives in town, and Ali Baba purchases all 39 of his oil jars. Why Baba needed so many jars of oil I don’t know, perhaps he’s starting a late night wrestling league? Perhaps he has an exciting wedding anniversary planned? We may never know for sure.

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Baba decides to entertain the head thief, and while they talk Baba’s wife realizes she needs more oil. Going out to the jars, she hears several of the jars whisper, “Is it time?” Fellas, if you have to ask that question, the answer is “not tonight”. Am I right ladies?! (The author will from this point forward cease any attempts at relationship humor.) I couldn’t help but notice that the lids of the jars were lip synced to the words, which would indicate that the jars are themselves thieves, not jars containing thieves. I momentarily drift off into a fantasy about thieving Arabian jars that maraud through the Middle East and forget that I’m watching a much less interesting story.

She goes back to the kitchen and heats up hot water, and returns to the jars, and one by one fills each container with hot water. Each time the thief leaps out and into the night. Considering the jars have a neck that only appears to be about three inches wide, the only conclusion I can reach is that Gumby spent time in the Middle East producing a small army of bastard children.

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The wife returns, and Ali Baba, without warning says, “My wife wishes to dance. And since she dances so well, I will allow it.”

To which the head thief replies, “It’s interesting that you should mention that, because my wife dances poorly, like someone failing to die with dignity. I beat her.”

The spastic dance that follows is hard to describe without a working knowledge of animated gifs, but it seems like the sort of thing where anyone nearby would attempt to hold her down and put a pencil in her clenched teeth to keep her from biting her own tongue.

She abruptly stops the dance by putting a knife to the thief’s throat, and when he claps to summon his men, she points to the window for dramatic emphasis and advises him that they have fled into the night. The thief escapes, and they’re left happily ever after. Except for the fact that there’s a pack of thieves out there that now know where they live and have a score to settle. And the guilt over his brother being inadvertently murdered. But otherwise very happy.

We return to Pedo-Piper, who makes a quip about how we should always remember the secret word, and then he too can not remember the word “sesame”. The fact that he is not shanked by a turban wearing thief seems like a cruel contradiction to the lesson we’ve just learned.

Politically Incorrect Moment:

Well, everything really. The fact that neither of the wives have a proper name is pretty telling. Demanding that his wife dance for their amusement definitely stands out, but the entire thing probably wouldn’t be done today. After Aladdin, what’s the last major thing you saw that was based on any Arabian story? Americans are terrified of anything in a turban.

Rating: Nearly Unwatchable

I’ll admit it, I was straining a little to find enough humor in this low budget junk-work short. It’s just unforgivably dull, like most things are when the creators set out to make something that will teach kids a lesson. I’m sure by the time I finish up all the Piper’s installments I’ll be checking IMDB to make sure that actor is good and dead.

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One comment

  1. TheKarpuk,

    Thank you for your fairly accurate critique of my work in this cartoon. I assure you I did sing the theme song and though my talking voice may be whiny to some, my singing voice is among the angels. Sadly I committed suicide in 1979 so I can’t sing for you to prove it. My name was Alan Crofoot should you like to read more about me. I have my own page in Wikipedia which contains many of my musical achievements.
    And if you should ever find yourself closed in a cave, just remember the words… open… open… o, what were those words?

    Mr. Piper



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