Despite Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and his cartoons being popular and well received at the time, they have been vastly overshadowed over time by succeeding animation characters. It is a shame as, while not cartoon masterpieces, they are fascinating for anybody wanting to see what very old animation looked like.
So far most of the 1931 Walter Lantz Oswald cartoons have been decidedly lacklustre with very little special about them. The exception was the previous cartoon 'The Farmer', which was pretty good. 'The Fireman' sadly is a return to this lacklustre, mediocre at best streak of the 1931 batch so far. Not awful, just forgettable. Lantz was responsible for some good Oswald cartoons, though not all the best of his era were as good as the best of the Disney and Winkler eras, but also some lacklustre at best ones.
While one of the lesser Oswald cartoons, there are worse. Like the previous 1931 Oswald cartoons, 'The Fireman's' best asset is the animation, for what it lacks in occasional refinement it more than makes up for in a lot of detail, the drawings not being as crude mostly as they can be (a good deal of it is pretty smooth) and how Oswald's gestures, expressions and movements are animated which are remarkably natural.
Oswald himself is a likable character, while the synchronisation is decent and a couple of the gags are cute (like the one with the ladder), likewise with the kitten who avoids being cutesy or too much of a brat.
However, what little there is of the story feels very cobbled together and continually lacks energy. Most of the gags are sadly not particularly amusing let alone funny, and seem to try too hard for the cutesy factor. So much so that it may please kids but adults may find it hard to sit through (not usually a criticism personally had for an Oswald cartoon).
Too much of 'The Fireman' is too predictable and drawn out and there is nothing inventive here. A lot of it feels hackneyed in its execution as well. The sound does lack resonance. All this sounds like the IMDb and personal rating given for 'The Fireman' is too harsh, but the lack of laughs, thinness of the story and that the cutesiness is taken too far to the extent that it affects the target audience are far too significant problems to warrant higher, at least to me.
In conclusion, lacklustre and forgettable. 4/10 Bethany Cox
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