Friday, May 24, 2013

George and Junior in: "Look out Below"


Written and Directed by: Pat Ventura
Based on characters Created by: Tex Avery
Layout Artists: Mark Kausler, Robert Ramirez, Julian Chaney
Background Stylist: Victoria Jenson
Music: Peter Lurye
Voices: John Rubinow, Tony Pope, Rob Paulsen
Produced in Association with: Fil-Cartoons, Inc, Philippines and Jaime Diaz Productions, Argentina

This is a rather odd entry. Like "Stay Out", it uses existing characters, yet unlike that short, which was basically a Flintstones episode cut to seven minutes, this is an entire new take on an old favorite. Here, Pat Ventura borrows George & Junior from the late, great Tex Avery, adding his own signature jokes and character design. I know there are some purists out there who will scream "Sacrilege!" at the mere mention of this short, but I honestly have to say this is not a bad cartoon at all. In fact, it's a lot easier to sit through than "Out and About" is.

A Bird can't get his sleep because of a constantly blinking light bulb at the top of a transmission tower, so he destroys it. George and Junior are janitorial engineers in charge of making sure the light stays lit, so it's up to them to replace the bulb and keep the bird from breaking it. The whole cartoon is then basically a series of gags of George and Junior (well, mostly George) getting badly injured in their numerous, unsuccessful attempts to keep the lights on.

As stated earlier, this isn't a bad cartoon. The gags themselves are the standard stuff you expect from a Pat Ventura cartoon, but the reason this short works better than "Out and About" is that here, there's actually a reason for both sides to go against each other. The Bird wants to sleep, while G&J are simply doing their jobs.We obviously side with G&J, but we don't feel too bad when something bad happens to them, because it's either the Bird fighting back, or a plan backfiring because of Junior's own stupidity. In the end, G&J end badly injured and the Bird has to leave for a better home since he can't stand all the ruckus. No one wins, but for this short, it's a fitting end.

There are some gags here that work, like the whole scene with the cannon as it features some great animation and wild takes. There are a few others that aren't as good, like the part where George loses his nose and Junior tries to fix it by pumping it like a balloon. It's a bit on the gross side, even with the limited animation, but it's not TOO bad, and it's probably my least favorite moment in the short, so overall it's okay.

Pat Ventura also brings back the "Bend over, Junior" jokes from the original shorts (and really the only thing that connects to the Tex Avery cartoons). They're actually pretty well executed, specially the third one, which I'll get to in the screenshots section.

Special mention to John Rubinow and Tony Pope, who both do a very good job at voicing the title characters. At some points they sound very similar to Dick Nelson (who voiced both characters in the original shorts), but still giving the characters their own touch. They're not exactly like the originals, but they certainly do fit.

I'll definitely say "Look Out Below" is one of the best shorts so far. It's not perfect, but it's definitely a fun experience all the way through. Even if you are among the crowd that believe that the classic stuff from the 30s-50s era are sacred cows that shouldn't be touched, then maybe you should avoid this cartoon, but even then, it's a good cartoon on its own merits. Watch it with an open mind.



There's some good animation when the bird first smashes the light bulb. What I'm not a fan of is the music here is taken note by note from the opening scene from "Short Orders". It still fits, but it feels like cheating.


I love the looped animation of George spitting as he snores while taking a nap.


Now that's a big alarm. Something really bad must be going on.



Classic joke. Junior pops out of the small elevator carrying a loooooong ladder that obviously wouldn't fit in. George appears next carrying the other end.


Nice motions as George tries holding the shaking ladder while Junior climbs.


Funny, dumb expression on Junior as he ponders how to put the bulb on the socket.



Two nice expressions on the Bird. I love the first one in particular.




This entire scene is great. After the Bird pushes G&J down the building there are some great wild takes to go along. The second image really needs to be seen in motion.


Bend Over #1: Pretty standard.


Wow, George doesn't brush his teeth often.


"When I see the Bird, I light the fuse" Junior's expression here is hilarious.




This also needs to be seen in motion, but man, the animation here is amazing. This is another case of me not noticing certain expression until watching the scenes frame by frame.


Another hilarious expression on Junior.


Bend Over #2: George kicks Junior and his insides go through his mouth. Pretty gross.


Another great bit of animation is when George's nose explodes from the stick of dynamite.





Bend Over #3: This one is the best bit of the cartoon. First, George slooooooowly pulls down Junior's fur (a bug pops out) and gets a huge shoe ready (there's a realistic close-up here ala Ren & Stimpy). After that, and in a REALLY quick motion, he puts the shoe on and kicks Junior. The timing with the music is impeccable.



Two more great expressions on George as he falls to his doom and his butt catches on fire.


Bend Over #4: George simply kicks Junior from down the hole, but Junior's reaction is funny.


Well, I guess George got to let go his rage in some way.

5 comments:

  1. I do recall enjoying this cartoon and understood this was Pat's take on what Tex did before. It made sense to carry the "Bend over" as well.

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  3. On a whim, I asked Pat Ventura about his George & Junior cartoons.

    Some time before, Ventura was asked to develop Avery's "Screwy Squirrel" character for television, the version that aired on the Droopy Detective show. Ventura took the Avery concept and expanded on it, with more slapstick, gags, and new ways he would torment the dog. The network, however, rejected it, saying it made the squirrel unsympathetic. They turned Screwy into, in Ventura's own words, an unfunny sitcom.

    Years later, Ventura was working on What a Cartoon, and decided to see if he can give George and Junior a shot. Fred Seibert said OK and the rest is history.

    Incidentally, Sledgehammer O'Possum was created as Ventura's version of Screwy Squirrel. This is how he planned the 1990s revival to be like.

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    1. Too bad it didn't pan out for him the first time around, but nice that Seibert gave me the go-ahead to make it happen. I see he got to use Mark Kausler on these too.

      I recall Scott Shaw wanted to do a modern take on Lippy and Hardy for the WAC initiative as well, but couldn't get it off the ground despite how edgy he was ask to make it.

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  4. I read that originally, Pat Ventura wanted Carbunkle Cartoons from Canada to animate this (famous for their "Ren and Stimpy" work), but they proved to be too expensive, so they had to settle for Fil-Cartoons instead. (Fil-Cartoons was actually a satellite studio owned and operated by Hanna-Barbera in the Philippines, which explains why a number of the "What a Cartoon" shorts were animated by them.)
    However, Carbunkle DID get to animate Eddie Fitzgerald's "Tales of Worm Paranoia" in 1996, along with Kennedy Cartoons (famous for the "Tiny Toons" and Disney work), while Fil-Cartoons did ink-and-paint/camera work.

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