My Grade: A+
Mouse Trouble (1944)
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My Grade: A+
This cartoon reminded me early on of a Road Runner episode. The difference is that Tom plays Wile E. Coyote and Jerry is the elusive Road Runner. No matter what trap Tom sets, Jerry figures a way to beat it....or the trap backfires in predictable manner.
Yes, half the gags were too predictable but it was still entertaining and it did offer a few new wrinkles....like a windup Mae West doll which provides all the laughs in the final minute and is very original material.
Mouse Trouble has Tom order a book on how to catch mice (from Random Mouse Publishing nonetheless) and follow the foolproof instructions exactly as printed no matter how many times they prove to be completely ineffectual. Naturally they all come back to bite him in the ass. Poor Tom, he gets so beaten up in this one but never lets the pain lessen his enthusiasm.
Plenty of visual jokes and laughs in this one.
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
If you go through the Tom and Jerry shorts in the order that they were released you'll notice that 1944 had some of the greatest films. That trend continues here as Tom orders a book on how to catch a mouse, which he reads and tries to do but Jerry isn't going to go without a fight. This short is basically broken up into several chapters as Tom reads from the book, tries what it says and then moves onto the next chapter. For the most part this is just one violent attack on the poor cat after another and of course it's fast and funny. The highlight is certainly the sequence where Tom tries to use curiosity to catch the mouse. There's no doubt that the funniest thing is just that high-pitched scream from Tom.
The gags here might be fairly predictable but they come thing and fast and are pretty funny... and delightfully cruel. The thing I found funniest was that after shooting himself in the head and effectively scalping himself Tom wears a shocking red toupee... normally this would be a one shot gag but here he continues to wear it to the end of the cartoon! The animation here looks good; certainly much better than it was in their '60s outings.
As for this particular film, I've seen it many times. It's the one where Tom buys a book on how to catch a mouse (has such a book EVER really been written?!?). And, by using the book, Tom STILL gets clobbered by Jerry and proves he's just a boob. Aside from the great animation (Tom and Jerry cartoons pre-1950 are the most beautiful), I also liked that there was better than usual continuity. When Tom has the top of his head shot off, he wears a toupee the rest of the film to hide it! Clever--just not earth-shaking.
By the way, me divulging that Jerry beats Tom--is this REALLY a spoiler?!?!
An episodic T&J caper (as opposed to the usual, single, prolonged chase scene), Mouse Trouble is basically a series of quick fire gags, which sees Tom's different traps backfiring in amusing ways. I use the word amusing, because, unfortunately, they are very rarely hilarious, being way too predictable in their outcome.
This style of cartoon would be done much better (and again and again) years later by the brilliant Wile E.Coyote and Roadrunner.
3(***)out of 4(****)stars