Van Bueren Studios' Cubby the Bear series comprised of just 19 (not the 17 as initially thought, having worked from an incomplete list listing the cartoons) cartoons made between 1933-1934. As much as it pains me to say it, speaking as a big animation fan, it is not hard to see why the character and the series weren't so popular and didn't last long.
Despite my love for animation, there are a few above mediocre Cubby cartoons, such as 'The Nut Factory', 'Fresh Ham' and 'Croon Crazy'. 'Sinister Stuff' is unfortunately not one of them, another one of those straining lacklustre efforts. The best thing about it, and this is true of a lot of Van Bueren's output, is the music score. It is so beautifully and cleverly orchestrated and full of lively energy that is sorely lacking elsewhere, doing so well with enhancing the action.
The villain is a quite nice character with some suitable menace, there is some neat synchronisation and transitions and there are a couple of amusingly bizarre moments.
However, the animation generally is really not good even for a cartoon not made on a high budget, and it is true for the Cubby the Bear series and Van Bueren in general on the whole. It's static in movement, simplistic in background detail and sloppy in drawing, with the character expressions being pretty expressionless.
Another major problem is Cubby himself, on top of being poorly animated he is one of the blandest, most personality-deprived there is and is in a role that stronger characters like Mickey Mouse could easily have filled better. His girlfriend is just as bland and charmless, more so than the girlfriends of Buddy and Bosko. Only the villain shows much personality.
Nothing here is funny, instead it is rather saccharine, too low on laughs/gags and sloppy in timing. The story is barely existent and doesn't go very far. What there is of a story is episodic and formulaic, basically a very standard rescue cartoon. The direction is hardly there either.
In short, has moments but lacking in a lot of areas. 4/10 Bethany Cox
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