Junior Catfish skipped school to hang out at the pool hall. Mama was worried he might have been caught by a fisherman instead. He returns home for dinner, then sneaks back to the pool hall for the meeting of the Big Fry Club. For his initiation, he's sent into a cave full of scary things that ultimately send him running back to mama's arms. Throughout, the title song is sung. Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Small Fry is a gem, not just as a Fleischer cartoon but as one in general and is superior to the still entertaining Educated Fish from two years earlier.
The animation is great, it isn't technically innovative like some other Fleischer cartoons(nor did it need to be) but it has lots of lush, vibrant colours and smoothly drawn backgrounds. The undersea world has plenty of charm and there is some truly imaginative animation work in the "freak-out" scene with all those different characters and shapes coming out suddenly from the atmospherically dark background. The music is full of bouncy energy and sumptuous orchestration that is very 30s-cartoon-like but in a good way. The song is one of the catchiest of any Fleischer cartoon, you'll have no problem remembering the melody and there are some truly funny lyrics as well.
Small Fry has a great story, it is more eventful and less sentimental than most Fleischer cartoons, simple still of course but it at least feels like a story. It's buoyantly paced, rarely falls into maudlin schmaltz(only the ending comes close but it's tame compared to other Fleischer cartoons) and it has a great anti-smoking message that is handled surprisingly maturely. The "freak-out" scene is deliciously dark but no so much that it's out of kilter. I also found myself really caring for Junior Catfish(or Small Fry) and the world he lived in, and the voice acting and singing are all well done.
In conclusion, not quite one of my personal favourites but it is another gem from Fleischer and possibly among the better ones from him and the studio. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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