Random semiconscious musings

Monday, September 01, 2008

Revisiting the Future

I've been on a binge lately. I've been indulging in watching exceptionally bad cartoons.

Call it an absurd curiosity if you will, but my focus is not to view these to see how bad the cartoon really is, but it's more like examining the thought process of what the person who created it might be thinking when they believed what they were doing would actually be considered funny.

This is a problem with many films these days- even as open-minded as I can be, there are just some things out there in the entertainment venue where no matter what angle I try to understand the creation / execution process, the final result just plain stinks.... even the most uncultured person still wouldn't find these funny (like any film featuring Ben Stiller or Will Ferrell, which are just plain embarrassing...).

So this takes me to today's post.

I admire Chuck Jones and the huge contributions he gave to the animation industry. He's a man that you can look back at his animation career and pretty much try to understand where he was mentally during each phase of his lifetime achievements...
the Pre-Disney days,
the "I wanna be like Disney" days,
the "I wanna be anything but Disney" days,
the "I've got lots of great ideas" phase,
the "but I want Tom and Jerry to be more refined and emphatic" phase,
the "I'm much more creative than you're making me out to be" phase,
the "I'm ready to sell out" phase... you get the picture.

Even up to his final creations, Jones' cartoons are at best watchable. At times he reminds me of a frustrated artist trying to evoke some response to his work but just never hitting the mark, so he tries again using the same tools and character devices in a repeated process. He gets very close with many of his fantastic directions.... but then there's still a sign of unsatisfaction and the next production ensues.

The following film is an example of Jones' fondness for his creations. Even though it's not all that funny in itself, or fast-moving, or even spectacular in its execution, I can't help but watching it through and comparing Jones to a elderly man taking out a box of his toys that he so enjoyed as a child and fondly revisiting memories while playing with them again. He presents them all with a kind and thoughtful manner- not self-effacing them by killing them off or adding exceptionally unbearable violence to them (kind of like what John K did to Yogi Bear). (The only questionable part is the scene where Daffy turns on his eager young space cadet... bad jokes warrant killing him? And it's done in such a slow, unusual pace, too- we can hardly tell Daffy is even angry).

And so Jones revists the future.... and goes from the 24 1/2 century to the return of the 24 1/2 century.

This is the full version of this cartoon, 9 1/2 minutes long. I understand it's hard to come by with every scene intact, so I hope you all enjoy it.... and maybe keep in mind that although it's not a real knee-slapper, you can apply some of your appreciation and fondness for the first cartoon and its characters which still holds up so many years after its original debut.



  • Not good, but not terrible.

    By Blogger Thad, at 12:45 PM  

  • I had never seen the full length version of "Return to the 24th Century" before, thanks for posting it. As for the cartoon, its a little too talky, slow paced and tries too hard to be witty, but I'd rather watch it than Larry Doyle's work or even Chuck Jones' later film productions.

    By Blogger Nick, at 2:33 PM  

  • "At times he reminds me of a frustrated artist... just never hitting the mark, so he tries again using the same tools and character devices in a repeated process. He gets very close with many of his fantastic directions.... but then there's still a sign of unsatisfaction and the next production ensues."

    You'd almost think he was trying to catch a road runner, wouldn't you? (I think this is one of the best analyses of Jones I've ever read. No kidding.)

    By Blogger ramapith, at 8:03 PM  

  • I remember watching it as a part of Daffy Duck's Thanks-for-Giving Special and the problem i had is similar to "Soup or Sonic", a very late RR short aired as a other 1980's special. It's too long for being a real good Looney Tunes cartoon but at least, it's better than the later shorts we had over the last 20 years.

    By Blogger Martin Juneau, at 10:35 PM  

  • Michael Maltese made a comment aabout how Chuck, even during his best years, was known to pontificate, and had to be brought back down to reality by Mike and others on the WB staff. Maltese's depature to Hanna-Barbera really seemed to let loose some of the less-positive aspects of Jones' character, one of which (ironically, given all the criticism Chuck had for the H-B TV and McKimson cartoons) was a tendency to make his characters overly verbose, with flowery language that made it seem as if Bugs, Daffy, etc., were in love with the sound of their own voices.

    That might work with the verbose Wile E. Coyote in his match-ups with Bugs, but in those cartoons the self-love was usually met with a dynamite explosion in his face. In Chuck's non-pantomime cartoons from 1961 onward, the overly-cute designs and the narcissistic characters made most of those cartoons a chore to watch. No wonder his best work from '61 on was the Road Runner cartoons.

    By Blogger J Lee, at 9:45 PM  

  • It's the complete version the one we'll have on DVD?

    By Blogger Duck Dodgers, at 5:29 AM  

  • Was this cartoon originally supposed to get a theatrical release with a Spielberg feature but Spielberg wasn't crazy about it because of its downbeat end gag? If so, was it to have accompanied the 1980 release of "Close Encounters" or another film?

    By Blogger Whit, at 1:31 AM  

  • "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" was preceded by the original, "Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century" if I remember correctly.... that one cartoon got more audience reaction than the entire movie itself!

    I'm not sure if there was a reason behind this particular cartoon being made... except maybe to generate a little more exposure to the WB cartoon line...?

    By Blogger Larry T, at 11:58 AM  

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