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Of Tex Avery's three masterpieces, "King-Size Canary" is the best of the lot. (In case you're wondering, the other two are "Who Killed Who?" and "Red Hot Riding Hood," both 1943.) This has to be seen to be believed, let alone appreciated. I once tried to describe it to a friend, one who admitted affection for Chuck Jones' Bugs/Daffy/Elmer hunting trilogy from Warner Bros., and failed miserably to do it justice. The insanity builds from a merely amusing opening to a mind-boggling yet inevitable finale, an image that will stay with you for some time after the fade-out.
Tex Avery, IMHO, is probably hands-down the best at his craft. Current
-- just that, stuff. The closest I've seen of recent work would have to
the four Roger Rabbit/Baby Herman cartoons (including the short that
the film, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?").
This simple premise -- starving cat & undersized intended snack -- is complicated by a miraculous growth fertilizer and spirals rapidly out of control to a completely ridiculous conclusion.
I was lucky enough to own the box-set of laserdiscs which included every cartoon Tex Avery made for MGM, and I would have paid three times what I did for it. Although this particular cartoon wasn't my favorite (I might have to lean toward one of the two versions of "Northwest Hounded Police" in which double-takes and eyeball gags are elevated to an art form), it was certainly in the upper levels. Another high-ranking short: "Bad Luck Blackie", in which a black cat simply struts in front of a surprisingly vicious bulldog to bring him instant -- and potentially lethal -- bad luck.
Try to see these shorts unedited, not the hacked 'politically correct' versions being shown on some cable cartoon shows. Absolutely the best animation for sheer hilarity that has ever been committed to celluloid.
Whatever Tex Avery was smoking when he came up with this one should be instantly legalized and doled out to the creatively bankrupt. The Classic Avery 'toon, the one he could never quite top, and a joy to behold. Bird, Cat, Dog, and Mouse - in that order - drink from an unassuming-looking bottle of Jumbo-Grow plant food. I won't give away the ending, but I wouldn't mind a sequel if only to find out what could possibly happen next.
While I do not personally think this is Avery's best cartoon (that honor goes to The Legend of Rockabye Point) and this one is also not among my personal favorites, this is the ultimate in Tex Avery cartoons. Everything Avery strived to do is here-he loved taking a quasi-normal situation, tossing in a random, improbable element or three and then piling sight gag after sight gag, each one more outlandish than the ones before. The jokes are all sight gags. What dialogue there is is generally there as necessary for set-up and only one or two lines are even mildly funny. Just sight gags, as far as the eye can see, fast enough to register, but so fast that you almost don't have time to breathe because you're laughing so hard. This one makes you want to do things like hang spoons from your nose! Wildly silly and unforgettable, truly a masterpiece. This is a great cartoon! It worked 55 years ago and it works today. You have to see this one. Most highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This has always been a favorite cartoon of mine but it was only several
years later that I became aware of its reputation as not only one of
Avery's greatest cartoons, but the fact that it also exemplifies the
delirious heights of invention to which the field could aspire during
its heyday. A measure of the cartoon's standing is the fact that it
ranked tenth in a 1994 poll compiling the 50 greatest cartoons ever,
and was even picked by noted biographer/historian Simon Louvish as
being one of the ten best films of all time for the influential "Sight
& Sound" poll of 2002!
The plot sees a ravenous cat finding only a sickly canary to feed on; noticing a bottle of "Jumbo Gro" (intended for the artificial growth of flowers), it forces a couple of gulps down the bird's throat resulting in the latter towering above the feline itself! At this, the cat drinks from the bottle itself (so that the size of its meal can become, once again, manageable) but carelessly throws away the recipient which is then picked up by a mouse and, subsequently, a vicious-looking bulldog (with, every time one takes a sip from it, expanding to an outrageous size)! Soon, they're chasing each other and leaping over the tallest buildings; eventually, the "stuff" runs out leaving the cat and the mouse at an equivalent dimension except that they're so big now the two of them are literally standing on top of the world!
An alley cat is starving and does all he can to find food. Eventually, he breaks into a house and ransacks the contents of the kitchen. He finds a can of cat food, but upon opening it, he finds a mouse who talks him into letting him go, and tells him to eat the canary in the next room. Well, now comes the kicker. The cat finds a bottle of some growth substance. He pours it down the throat of the canary and the thing becomes enormous. Now the cat must drink the stuff and get bigger, followed by a dog, and finally the mouse. You get the point. I won't talk about the ending, but it's pretty much what you would expect from what has happened. We never really question the fact that such a substance exists. Tex Avery handles the expressions and the craziness just fine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"King-Size Canary" is certainly among the most famous cartoons by Tex Avery and also among the most famous from the 1940s. This one here is about a starving cat who finds a growth elixir and gives it to the chicken he is about to eat. Unfortunately, it grows a bit more then expected. So the cat takes some as well and relations are fine again? Or are they really? Things become even more mayhem when a dog and mouse come into play, also with altered sizes. The joke is very much the same for these 7 minutes and it's not too groundbreaking in any way in my opinion, but still it was a decent watch. Nonetheless I must say that Avery cartoons lack something in terms of heart and recognition value compared to Disney's and Warner Bros's finest. All in all, recommended, but not a must-see by any means.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Tex Avery cartoons at MGM are among the very best cartoon shorts
ever made. Their insane sensibilities, irreverent attitude and
silliness make them all timeless classics and KING-SIZE CANARY is
certainly no exception.
The film starts with a hungry cat looking for something to eat in the alley. He looks through binoculars at a house and spots a "Coldernell" refrigerator and figures he can get something to eat there. When he catches the mouse in the house, it tells him he'd read the script and the cat was supposed to eat the canary in the next room! But, when the cat sees that the bird is minuscule, he gets an idea and feeds it "Jumbo Gro" liquid. Now the canary is huge....so huge that the tables are now turned! Well, somehow the dog and mouse get involved and this Jumbo Gro is an amazing product--you take a swallow and almost instantly become huge--leading to a rather cute ending.
The bottom line is that this cartoon isn't exactly "high art" but it's doggone funny. You'll laugh and have a great time, so give it a try today!
'King Size Canary' is one of MGM and Tex Avery's better animation
shorts, and concentrates on what might happen if a hungry cat goes in
search of food and finds a way to make everything larger! Of course
this being cartoon fun you just know that whatever the cat makes larger
will end up being too large, and that the gag will progress on and on
to its inevitable conclusion. The main characters - cat, dog, bird and
mouse - are funny and watchable; the animation is well drawn, and the
cartoon is a diverting few minutes.
Although MGM's cartoons, Hanna and Barbera aside, are not known as much as the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies of Warner Bros., or the shorts made by Walt Disney, they are not at all bad and can still be appreciated today by any generation.
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