Barney is settling in for the winter, but first he needs to chop some wood. Unfortunately, that wood includes the home of Johnny Squirrel. Barney offers to let Johnny sleep in his house, but like a little kid, Johnny seems intent on doing everything but sleep, much to Barney's annoyance. Written by
Jon Reeves <email@example.com>
While not one of my favourite cartoon characters, Barney Bear was a very funny and likable character where his sluggishness was a huge part of his charm. He was also interesting for being modelled on both his creator Rudolf Ising (who also was his first voice actor until 1941) and the mannerisms of Wallace Beery.
After the Preston Blair and Michael Lah unit stopped after just three (and pretty good too) cartoons, 'The Bear and the Bean', 'The Bear and the Hare' and 'Goggle Fishing Bear', Dick Lundy was the fourth director to take over the Barney series after Ising (10 cartoons), George Gordon (3) and Blair/Lah, and turned out to be the joint-longest-serving director after Ising with 10 contributions to the series. 'Sleepy-Time Squirrel' is among the lesser Lundy Barney Bear cartoons and a disappointment somewhat coming after one of the series' best 'The Impossible Possum'. That is not saying it's bad, it's actually pretty good, it's just not great.
Story-wise, the premise is very familiar, being somewhat typical of the earlier Barney cartoons with Ising and even some of the material lacks freshness, at times almost derivative. The over-familiarity does slightly take away from the enjoyment. Maybe it could have done with more energy, the pace was already in Lundy's cartoons less frenetic but it needed a little more kick here.
However, Barney is fun, adorable and very easy to root for. He is also of the later Barney cartoons the closest here to his original personality, thanks to a premise that even with the over-familiarity actually plays to his strengths and what defined him as a character in the first place. The squirrel character is both cute and a suitable pest.
Animation is nicely drawn and colourful, if slightly lacking the finesse and meticulousness of the earlier entries of the Barney Bear series. The music, courtesy of Scott Bradley, is lushly and cleverly orchestrated, with lively and energetic rhythms and fits very well indeed, even enhancing the impact of actions and gestures.
'Sleepy-Time Squirrel' is always charming, amusing and the timing while not always consistent is good. The chemistry between the two characters is well-characterised.
On the whole, pretty good but lacking in a few areas for it to be better than that. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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