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Cartoon Hell #27 – “Time for Love”

December 14, 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.

That time is now, baby.

“Time for Love” sounds like a forgotten B-side to a Barry White album. I was shocked to discover that this cartoon is in no way a slow jam. It’s not even particularly smooth.

The credits aren’t promising, featuring that odd, Dudley Do-Right throat warbling. Singing like a muppet with a nasal problem was all the rage back then.

Swans are pretty freaky.

We begin with two swans a-swimming (tis the season, damn it!) who show their love by choking each other with their necks. The camera swings over, and I realize I’m watching a film in glorious STEREOPTICAL THREE-DIMENSIONS! Fleischer had a wonky process he used for years where they’d design a real, three dimensional diorama as the background for their animation. It’s a neat idea, but I think any special effect fails if you find yourself distracted by it, wondering why it doesn’t look right.

Some sort of rare, chicken-headed snake.

We cut away from the happy swans to…. well… I didn’t know what I was looking at for a bit. It seems to have a chicken head with an eel body. Whatever it is, it does not approve of love. When it sneaks out from behind the tree, it reveals itself as a fat, black swan, though it’s head still looks pretty damn roostery to me. Because of the grainy video quality, the villain looks like a stray blob of ink on the screen 90% of the time, making it hard to get a screen capture that even makes sense.

It begins its attempts to woo the female swan with its googly eyes. It shows off its prowess at eating, as it can goose-neck a fish like nobody’s business. Keep this in mind, men, because it’s a universal truth: Girls dig guys who can eat a lot. When it gives one of the fish to the female swan, it becomes clear that the Popeye formula was in Fleischer’s head long before he got the rights to the angry sailor. I’m beginning to wonder if the man was constantly being foiled by larger, swarthier, darker men.

The female swan leaves with the black swan when the white swan fails to match his raw, masculine fishing. I have to ask, has this scenario ever happened to any man ever? Have you been on a date, had a larger man outdo you in a game of skill like darts or pool, and your date is so impressed that she leaves with the guy? Was this ever a real thing?

Swans are at their most beautiful when self-pitying.

Watching a swan mope across the water looks flat-out weird. Fleischer swans don’t so much swim as float on the skin of the water. The sun sets on the pouty swan, and rises on the other side of the STEREOPTICAL THREE-DIMENSIONAL scene, showing us a ragged lady-swan who’s spent all night catching fish for the angry black swan.

This is starting to feel like swan-sploitation.

I get it now, he’s a fish pimp! When she brings up her head without a fish, he even gives her a couple slaps. When the lady-swan accidentally feeds him a frog, he loses his mind and a fevered chase begins. I don’t know why this is, but it seems like abusive relationships in movies and television always snap over what’s for dinner. The swan might as well have yelled, “Woman, I don’t like it spicy!”

Tawdry and compelling.

The swan returns to her white swan suitor for protection, which he of course provides. They proceed to have the weirdest looking, neck-contorting battle I’ve seen in a cartoon.

What’s notable about most Fleischer male protagonists is that they’re always ready for a fight, but utterly spineless when it comes to the ladies. The male swan of course takes his former lover back, and they form a heart as the sun sets. Just once I’d like to see the male character save the damsel in distress, and then leave, giving a disdainful look as he goes.

“Olive Oyl, I cares aboutcha, but this relationship be an abusive cycle, one which I must breaks. Hukukukukah! Toot toot!”

But no, all is forgiven. Stupid swans.

UNPC Moment:

I’m going to take the low-hanging fruit here and stick with the sexism. A lot of old cartoons have this odd idea that a woman will leave whatever man they’re dating if a man with a single superior skill appears.

Rating: Humorously Bad

The big black swan really sold me on this one. He’s a no good, pimp-slappin’ fool.

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