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Cartoon Hell #13 – “Once Upon A Time”

January 31, 2009

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.

A genius move, the title original but instantly relatable.

A genius move, the title original but instantly relatable.

The name, “Audio Productions Inc.” inspires about as much confidence as a grocery store with the monicker, “Food N’ Shit”. Cartoons and fairy tales only avoid coming up crap when it’s outright parody or came from Disney when the founder still called the shots. “Once Upon A Time”, a generic title released from a studio with a generic title does not have either safeguards, making it an appropriately unlucky 13th entry for this series.

Whoever could these people be?

Whoever could these people be?

We’re dealing with a fairly tale metaverse in which all characters of various stories interact on a daily basis. As the picture indicates, you can’t tell who the hell most of them are without labeling. Humpty Dumpty is identifiable only because he’s one of the only eggs I can think of in fables.

And of course there’s a terrible song. More of these songs have lyrics that I don’t bother to repeat, since they’re quite often garbled, warbling messes with all the grain and hiccups of your great grandmother’s phonograph collection.

I think it's really more "Pandora's Footlocker" if you look at it.

I think it's really more "Pandora's Footlocker" if you look at it.

The action starts when Pandora opens the chest in her living room, but the singing doesn’t stop. They wail and yell, “AAAAaaaaAAAAhhhhh look out! Carelessness and Discourtesy.” Carelessness and Discourtesy are represented as blobs in what seems to be modeled after potato sacks. All the legendary Pandora’s box seems to contain is a cluster of bats and a couple of bad habits. Disappointing if true.

In old timey thuggish voices they say, “On our way, let’s make haste!”

Because the Mad Hatter was a model citizen otherwise.

Because the Mad Hatter was a model citizen otherwise.

The first victim of this release of bad manners is the poor Mad Hatter. Having insanity brought on by the mercury involved in haberdashery apparently isn’t enough of a torment. The twin globulous bastards stow away in his back seat, and carelessness goes to work. You know why I know this?  Because he expels the actual word above the hatter.

Going too quickly, the hatter smacks into a car pulling out of a driveway. The specters proclaim, “Signal, none, hit, run.” Yes, the first victim of bad manners is traffic safety.

And you thought you were the only one laughing at accidents.

And you thought you were the only one laughing at accidents.

They then encourage the hatter to run the light and he gets in horrendous accident with an unnamed character of fiction. The accident is truly over the top, there should really be wacky cartoon blood and motor oil leaking in the street. It’s the kind of accident they show in those drunk driving classes to scare first time offenders.

And yet miraculously everyone survives. The other car is inhabited by a giant strongman and a goose, from the epic Swedish fable, “The Strongman and the Hedonist Goose”.

Prepare to be squeezed foul goose!

Prepare to be squeezed foul goose!

While the strong man pummels the hatter, the goose lays a series of golden eggs before being kidnapped by a very effeminate boy with a feather in his hair. I don’t really know who it’s supposed to be, since Peter Pan would be greener. On a related note, I may be forced to start using, “wringing the goose” in casual conversation as some sort of crude euphemism.

Other kids join the goose thief, and the last one left behind gets encouraged to run across the street without looking by Carelessness. The child of course runs in front of a car, which stops, causing an accident. I begin to see a pattern emerging.

When the rudeness sprites jump on the Simple Simon’s pie-mobile, I come to the distinct conclusion that this short was commissioned almost entirely for the purpose of irritating teenagers taking driver’s ed. I’ve been duped into watching a video about good driving habits!

A cautionary tale about delicious pie.

A cautionary tale about delicious pie.

Simon is tempted to eat while driving, transforming into a hideous pig-beast. Pie related fatalities are one of the silent killers of the highway after all. They of course call him a road-hog, as is their way.

We cut abruptly to a prince putting a glass slipper on the feet of some wicked sisters as Cinderella watches from around the corner. Cinderella pops out to try after the other two fail, but I was having trouble concentrating because the film skipped and spat the way it normally does a moment before the film gets caught and starts melting. I keep expecting one of the films on this crappy collection to break in mid-viewing, the person who copied the data not bothering to check the results.

The smile concerns me more than the villains.

The smile concerns me more than the villains.

Cinderella and the prince drive away happily, but oh no, the globulous rudeness spirits are on the job. Carelessness suggests they inspire the prince to show off. I don’t recall the original story of Cinderella involving Prince Charming doing donuts in the parking lot or putting the car up on two wheels.

I'm thinking of getting a tattoo of this one, what do you think?

I think this is the pose they used for mudflaps.

Prince charming floors it, and when Cinderella notices, she slams on the break, and instead of just getting out of the car, she sits on the back end posing like some sort of hot rod magazine model. I had no idea women expressed their displeasure in such a way in the olden days.

One spirit tells him to push her off, and since no one can apparently argue with these underwhelming sins, he does so, knocking her flat on the road. The other spirit tells her to, “let em have it,” which to her means throwing her shoe at his head.

Tying everything together with an odd bit of serendipity, the prince speeds off and after the malcontent spirits encourage him to cross the line he hits Simple Simon.

Next on their hit list is a backseat driver. Since this is an old cartoon, the pairing of a very large woman and a very skinny man is considered comedy gold, as opposed to our modern standard of fat, rude guy with an inexplicably hot, patient wife. The spirits chide her on, and the couple doesn’t even notice when the car stops on train tracks.

I love it when cars go googly eyed.

I love it when cars go googly eyed.

I think if you’re trying to teach kids about courtesy on the road, showing a car practicing self preservation is kind of counterproductive. I’ve always thought cartoons failed as instructional tools because parents spend years telling us not to emulate wacky animated behavior. If I get yelled at for hitting a friend with a hammer, I’m not going to trust anything the damn medium has to say about discourtesy.

This image is going to linger.

This image is going to linger.

After their last bit of anarchy, Carelessness and Discourtesy share a laugh and a hug, and somewhere along the line things got a bit more intimate. That’s right, they share a tongue handshake. They just took their partnership to the next level.

Yeah King, you got a broke ass jester!

He just beat down that jester and is accepting all challengers.

The entire kingdom gathers at the castle, so of course the King has to sing in a ridiculous baritone. This being an older cartoon, he is required by law to sing like a Russian double bass with three testicles.

What every child loves, statistics.

What every child loves, statistics.

He complains about vehicular safety, which supposedly kills 33,500 fable characters a year. I don’t think we’d have any stories left if that were the case, so I assume we’ve now slipped out of cartoon terms and into real world logistics.

I assume these peasants have already been through scarring accidents.

I assume these peasants have already been through scarring accidents.

A batch of startlingly ugly chorus join in for the rest of the song, asking who will save us from the mild issues of roadside rudeness. Seriously, these look like Robert Crumb caricatures of peasants.

A pre-Sir Ian McKellen example of a gay wizard in action.

A pre-Sir Ian McKellen example of a gay wizard in action.

Thank god a mincing, smirking wizard arrives on the scene. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked a rhetorical question only to have magic pop up and offer a helping hand. The wizard magics up a pot of Common Sense, Knowledge, Attention! (their emphasis, not mine), and Obedience.

You can not resist the allure of the saucy box!

You can not resist the allure of the saucy box!

The spirits of Carefulness and Courtesy appear and lure the evil spirits back into the box.

Various characters are shown reprising the song from the beginning, and I have to note that Cinderella sounds like she’s being strangled by an unspeakable horror during her line. This is also the part where I realize the skinny guy with the fat wife is supposed to be Jack Sprat, mystery solved! Every character sings a line related to his or her offense, giving the audience the sense of closure they long for. The song reaches a crescendo powered by the King’s garbage barge low notes, and we fade to black.

UNPC Moment:

Clearly some sort of proto-feminist.

Clearly some sort of proto-feminist.

Women aren’t treated to kindly in this short. While Prince Charming shoving Cinderella out of the car was unpleasant, Jack Sprat’s wife taping her mouth shut so as to keep from backseat driving is the prize pig in this contest.

Rating: Nearly Unwatchable

I’m trying to keep the ratings consistent, but the actual rating for this one should probably be “Completely Unwatchable”, since this short combines the magics of Preachiness, Dullness, Bad Animation, and Terrible Music together in a wizards pot, and magics up a 10 minute educational short that took me nearly a week to work up the gumption to finish reviewing. I hate this film so bad I could probably start fires with my mind from the irritation.

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2 comments

  1. I think Jack Sprat used his nose to poke out his wife’s eyes as well.


  2. The cartoon came from Met Life, the company still exists today.



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