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Cartoon Hell #29 – “Red Riding Hood”

December 28, 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. 

Generic? HECK NO!

Fairy tales were an amazing resource for slacker cartoonist who needed to fill a yearly quota of shorts. All you do is add a few jokes to the tired formula, slap on ironic commentary, and people will assume you’ve done a clever thing. For those who doubt the formula’s durability, note the numbers they’re using after Shrek films these days.

 Little Red Riding Hood is a story that hasn’t just been exhausted, they’ve strip-mined it, the earth salted so nothing good might ever grow again. I’ve lost count of how many shorts I’ve seen based on its premise. Hell, entire movies have been made lampooning it. I can’t possibly imagine what this short could do that I haven’t already seen.

 Except maybe plagiarize Mickey Mouse. The protagonist is a dead-ringer for a Disney production, but this came out in a less litigious age. Hearing shrill mouse-singing on a soundtrack that sounds like it survived a bombing gives this film a solid first impression. 

Who n' the Hell am I looking at here?!

A grandmother lies in a bed embroidered with the word “Grandma”. She’s sick, you can tell because she’s wailing, a doctor at her side. This film not only assumes you’ve never heard this story before, but that you can’t recognize basic concepts without labeling. 

This ain't your mama's Robitusen!

What threw me was the doctor prescribing “jazz tonic”. It confused me, because in olden times “jazz” was code for anything related to black people. I’m just going to assume it’s liquor then, based on my understanding of the “jazz cigarette”. Grandma responds so well to the tonic that she gets buckteeth and does a bawdy dance.

 Enter the Wolf, who drives a car standing up and smokes a cigar. I’m going to assume it’s a “jazz cigar.”   He asks her the standard question, where she’s going, why she’s going, etc., and she responds with the standard answer, which is Grandma’s House. I just thought I’d clarify for those of you raised by the wire mother who are rocking yourselves to ease the terror of confusion.

 Grandma is chugging down the jazz tonic when she realizes it can also be applied externally. This involves a lot of time-killing dancing and merriment. Dousing herself in the jazz tonic gives her a youthful appearance, and she spends an excruciating minute dolling herself up. Good cartoons didn’t do this sort of thing because they were too occupied with telling jokes or advancing the storyline. Here, however, we’re in a rut so deep that we can’t even see the sun. 

This has taken an unexpected turn for the weird.

The Wolf sneaks into her home and the whole scenario gets a sort of energy I’m not sure how to respond to. Grandmother slinks out with an expression equal parts standoffish and come-hither. This is the stereotypical set up for a cheesy porno. The Wolf even gives her the full body up and down stare.

 When he speaks, it reminds us that voice acting in cartoons was pretty appalling before the heyday of Mel Blanc. The line “Who are you?” sounds like it’s being delivered by a deaf man. For a cartoon, this scene has the feel of a bad improv group. At certain moments it looks like they animated the characters forgetting their lines.

 He invites her over to the organ situated in the living room, spanks her on the ass, and plays a merry tune while she does a dance that involves slapping her own ass. Yes, Little Red Riding Hood has devolved into a sexy party with Grandma dancing like a flapper. It’s also made a liar out of me, because this is a direction I wasn’t expecting. It’s not a good thing since it involves more godforsaken dancing.

 Little Red Mickey Mouse sees her Grandma dancing with the Wolf through a window and is confused. Hell, I’m confused, so it’s understandable. Eventually she laughs; she’s handling it better than I am.

 When Little Red Riding Hood knocks on the door, they both seem scandalized, and run off to hide. Grandma hides in the closet, the Wolf getting in bed. When Little Red laughs hysterically at the Wolf’s crappy ruse, so he throws the blanket over her head and flees with Grandma, who was able to put on a wedding dress somehow. 

Grandma's escaping on a gas powered chili bowl!

Grandma and the Wolf flee in his car. So what does Little Red do? Somehow she finds the Wolf’s wife and children and squeals on him. An endless procession of wolf babies come pouring out, all with a rolling pin just like their mother. I don’t understand why the rolling pin was such an ubiquitous symbol of housewife rage? Have you ever tried to wield one? It’s spins, making it unsteady weight in the hand. Why not use an iron, or a heavy skillet, or one of those giant fork and spoon sets that always seem to be hanging on old peoples’ walls?

This is really what the Brothers Grimm had in mind, I think.

The two lovebirds do a tap dance down the aisle at the church to a packed house. Grandma must have some killer wedding planning skills to bring that altogether unless they stole someone else’s wedding. The man marrying them doesn’t actually speak, he just says, “Diddly yum deedee deeyum dum?” several times.

No good comes of bigamist wolves.

The army of wolves storm the wedding chapel. That sentence is way cooler than the scene it’s describing. The Wolf gets viciously pummeled and they all flee the chapel.

Don't look directly at this for too long, it'll destroy you.

Everyone starts crying for some reason, and then stop, getting right up in the viewer’s face to sing, “And That Is the Story of Little Red Riding Hood!” If you don’t know how to end the damn cartoon, just play the closing music and fade to black. Don’t tell me something established in the opening frames of the film.

UNPC Moment:

 Lots of smoking and drinking. People in this film were smoking at times that weren’t even sensical or appropriate.

 Rating: Humorously Bad

 I feared this would be another boring retread of a fairy tale, and instead it ended up being a ridiculously stupid retelling full of suggestive themes and ass slapping. This I find far more acceptable.

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