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.
Oswald in the Disney years saw mostly good to very good cartoons, and while the Winkler years had some duds there were also cartoons as good as the best of the Disney years. The 1929-1930 batches of Walter Lantz-directed Oswald cartoons were a mixed bag, with some good, some forgettable and not much special and a few mediocre. The 1931 batch was mostly underwhelming, with only 6 out of 18 cartoons being above average or more. The 1932 batch had a few not so good, though the cartoons in question were nothing compared to the worst of the previous 3 years, cartoons, but most were decent to good and some even very good.
So far the 1933 Oswald cartoons have been of a good standard with no duds yet, and far more consistent than especially the 1931 batch. 'The Zoo' is hardly a dud, in fact still a pretty good cartoon that isn't one of the best 1933 Oswald cartoons like 'The Plumber', 'The Shriek' and 'Five and Dime'.
'The Zoo' admittedly is pretty much plot-less apart from the fun if predictable conflict between Oswald and the zookeeper, mostly just an excuse to string along gags. The gags themselves are pretty good, they are amusing and well-timed, with nothing falling flat, but there are funnier and more imaginative ones in other 1933 Oswald cartoons. Occasionally the pacing could have been tighter.
However, the animation is very good. There is the looser and more elaborate look of many of the previous Lantz era Oswald cartoons, but it was surprising and lovely to see parts of the animation reminding one of the animation style of the Disney years in places.
Music is infectious and lushly orchestrated, always being dynamic to the action and enhancing it in the best parts. Enjoyed the rapport between Oswald and the zookeeper, and the animals are cute and entertaining. As said, there is nothing wrong with the gags and they're fun, just that they are not among the best Oswald has to offer.
All the characters are likable and a joy to watch.
In summary, pretty good. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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