Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yuckie Duck in "Short Orders"

Created, Written and Directed by: Pat Ventura
Layout Artists: Mark Kausler, Robert Ramirez, Julian Chaney
Background Stylist: Carol Wyatt
Music: Peter Lurye
Voices: Bill Kopp, Marsha Clark, Victor Love, Earl Kress
Produced in Association with: Fil-Cartoons, Inc., Philippines and Jaime Diaz Productions, Argentina

This is Pat Ventura's first WAC short, and I make note of this, because he will direct more shorts than anyone else in this series (six in total). His style is very distinctive in all of them, which is a good and a bad thing, because if you can enjoy a cartoon for its visuals, specially really wacky, wild takes, then Ventura's stuff could fit your tastes like a glove if you don't mind some gross stuff tossed here and there. If you value plot and characters over everything, well, you might want to look somewhere else.

Yuckie Duck works at a café as both the cook and the sole waiter. After making what seems to be the most disgusting soup in the world, he has to make a Limburger cheese sandwich for a customer, which requires using the most stinky piece of cheese from the depths of the fridge. Said piece of cheese is so putrid it's actually alive, so this causes a chase sequence where Yuckie attempts to capture the runaway cheese. Eventually he does and delivers the customer his sandwich, but he can't even get to eat it without being repulsed by the horrible stench.

Later, a second customer (Dora according to the credits) arrives and asks for a steak. This leads to what's without a doubt the highlight of the cartoon, which is a sequence where Yuckie tries to cut the incredibly hard steak using every tool at his disposal, but failing miserably with every try. The last attempt involves wrapping the steak around a stick of dynamite, but even that proves a failure when it blows up on Dora's face, steak still intact. Dora demands compensation for the horrible service, and the Manager offers anything on the menu for free. She asks for duck soup, and of course, Yuckie serves as the duck.

"Short Orders" is not a bad cartoon, but as you can tell from the synopsis above, it's not hard to realize it focuses mostly on gags and visuals, with the characters serving mostly as setups for Yuckie to do all sort of crazy stuff. The first two minutes have Yuckie making a soup out of all kinds of disgusting ingredients, plus a chicken submerging his butt into the pot, which is apparently his one job at the restaurant. Yuckie finally tastes the soup and vomits the whole thing (not as gross as it sounds) and flushes the remains from the pot like a toilet. This entire scene seems to go too long at around two minutes, and it doesn't have any repercussions to the rest of the cartoon, so it's all just exposition.

The cheese chase sequence has some amusing bits in it, such as Yuckie getting kicked (literally) by the horrible stench of the cheese, and him finally capturing it with a knife, but the best part of the cartoon, and what saves it from being an okay short at best, is the whole "cutting the steak" scene. It's an incredibly fast-paced sequence with amazing timing, and the constant wild takes and great looped animations really make it stand out. It's hilarious watching Yuckie pulling tons of weapons out of nowhere, specially as some of them make very little sense, like when he shoots an arrow. It's a long sequence, but it's definitely up there as one of my favorite long sequences in animation of all time. It's brilliantly done.

Special mention to the music score, which, while nothing too spectacular, definitely fits the mood of the short well. The best moments are the opening scene, since it's completely silent we can appreciate the deli-style music nicely; and of course, the aforementioned steak sequence near the end. The music in that scene builds up greatly, since it starts running faster and faster, and it's timed flawlessly to every time Yuckie hits the steak.

"Short Orders" will not win any awards for its writing and characters, but if you can enjoy a cartoon for its visuals and you like wild takes and exaggerated expressions, then this short may be up your alley. You may or may not like it, but definitely give it a chance.

Okay, that's definitely something I would never want to eat. As mentioned earlier, this whole sequence feels like filler, but I suppose it works to establish what type of restaurant this is.

This would be really gross in most cartoons out there, but the more limited animation actually makes it easy to sit through.

This is a clever joke with the customer screaming"Waiter!" and the word literally  travels from the dining room to the kitchen and hits Yuckie in the head. These jokes with words being seen on screen are kind of a Pat Ventura trademark, as he'll use them in all of his shorts.

I like when Yuckie takes Limburger cheese sandwich order, he scribbles on the note pad and keeps going, scribbling on thin air.

The part where Yuckie first opens the lid to the tray holding the cheese and the horrible stench escapes is pretty good, with the odor forming the shape of a shoe and kicking Yuckie in the face. By the way, the last screenshot above lasts for only one frame, but it adds a lot to the animation.

I love this part. Yuckie hides behind a wall and catches the cheese with a knife. The look of satisfaction in the last shot is great.

The ending of the cheese sandwich scene isn't very good, though. The joke is that every time the customer gets the sandwich close to him, he inhales the stench and his toupee will rise (with a vacuum sound effect). Yuckie then forces the toupee down, writes the check and runs away. The a rat steals the sandwich. Kinda lame.

I remember when watching this short for the first time, Dora slowly lowering the menu lead me to believe she she had a regular face, but then she reveals that huge chin and I was like "woah!". I don't know if this was an intentional fake out, but if it was, they executed it nicely.

Also love Dora's exaggerated screams when she calls the waiter.

Another funny scene when Yuckie opens the freezing fridge.

Probably the best way to cut a steak.

I love how Yuckie cleans the filthy steak after picking it up fro the floor. First, remove the hairs.

Blow it a bit...

A little rub over here...


Ah, what the heck, I'll post the whole "cut the steak" sequence.

Butcher knife's no good.

Or a sword.

 Or a saw.

The chainsaw ends up exploding.

Not sure what this is, but it doesn't work either.

I love how Yuckie pulls all the strong weapons, followed by a bow and arrow. As if THAT will do any good.

This one is hilarious in motion.

I love how you still see his teeth here.

Love the guillotine. So dumb

These three are my favorites and I love they're next to each other and the timing is perfect. The gun in particular is so ridiculous it's amazing.

This should do the trick.

Look out!

Well, that was a fluke.

Love how the Manager's mouth moves sideways as he speaks.

Kinda sucks that after a great climatic sequence, the short ends on a rather predictable joke. Oh well, see you in your next cartoon, Yuckie!

1 comment:

  1. His style is very distinctive in all of them, which is a good and a bad thing, because if you can enjoy a cartoon for its visuals, specially really wacky, wild takes, then Ventura's stuff could fit your tastes like a glove if you don't mind some gross stuff tossed here and there. If you value plot and characters over everything, well, you might want to look somewhere else.

    That is true to say about Ventura's work in a nutshell. It's rather fascinating he got to do that many cartoons though maybe the studio was desperate to get enough in for a quota and he didn't mind it. Some fans tend to argue his work suffered by the use of certain overseas studios involved in the productions. I see Fil-Cartoons listed here for example, a studio that H-B owned on the side that often handled a lot of their work and picked up other projects from other studios over the years. I think the studio ended once H-B along with other Turner Entertainment properties were merged/sold to Time Warner.

    Incidentally here's a video about Fil-Cartoons you might like to check out!

    Getting back to this cartoon, I spot a few noted guys involved in the credits listed above like animator Mark Kausler doing layouts, Bill "Eek" Kopp playing the star role along with the late H-B historian Earl Kress among the voice cast as well. I still miss Mr. Kress and the work he was a part of over the years.