Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: July 7, 1945
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Mouse in Manhattan © MGMTired of the country life, Jerry heads for Broadway, where he admires the big city.

Jerry’s luck is short-lived however, and after some bad experiences in the New York dumps (which involves hundreds of alley cats and scary subways), Jerry flees home, kissing a puzzled Tom in his joy.

‘Mouse in Manhattan’ is an outsider within the Tom & Jerry series, as it lacks the typical cat and mouse chase. Instead it focuses on Jerry’s journey, only. Nevertheless, it must be one of the most beautiful Tom and Jerry cartoons ever made. Jerry’s adventures in New York are accompanied by gorgeous and stunning backgrounds (most using a mouse perspective), and Scott Bradley’s particularly lush music. Bradley based his score on Louis Alter’s ‘Manhattan Serenade’ from 1928, which was also used in the MGM 1944 musical ‘Broadway Rhythm’, accompanying acrobatic stunts by the Ross Sisters. The music is so essential to the film, it almost seems the film was made for the score.

The cartoon is a sheer delight from the beginning to the end, but the highlight is Jerry’s dance with the female table figures on the roof of a very high hotel. This scene has the same class as its source of inspiration, the MGM musical.

Watch ‘Mouse in Manhattan’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.19

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Mouse Comes to Dinner
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Tee for Two

Director: Shamus Culhane
Release Date: October 4, 1944
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Barber of Seville © Walter LantzWoody Woodpecker enters a barbershop to get a ‘victory’ haircut.

When the barber appears to be gone away, Woody himself steps in, maltreating a large chief and giving an Italian construction worker ‘the works’, singing the complete aria ‘Largo el factotum’ from Gioacchino Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’.

‘Barber of Seville’ is probably inspired by the barber scene from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’ (1940), which is set to a Hungarian dance by Brahms. The cartoon in its turn probably inspired Chuck Jones, who would use the opera’s overture in ‘Rabbit of Seville’ (1950), with even better results.

‘Barber of Seville’ was the first Woody Woodpecker directed by Shamus Culhane. Culhane was an animation veteran, who had worked at Fleischer, Iwerks, Van Beuren, Walt Disney and Warner Bros. Culhane obviously understood the character better than his predecessor Alex Lovy did: the gags in ‘Barber of Seville’ are faster and funnier, and the story is more consistent than in most of the earlier Woody Woodpecker cartoons.

Moreover, Woody Woodpecker looks better than ever before. Layout man and color stylist Art Heinemann redesigned the character to make him less grotesque, and more appealing. Unfortunately, Culhane would direct only ten Woody Woodpecker shorts, before he left the studio to set up one of his own to make animation films for television.

Watch ‘Barber of Seville’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Frank Tashlin
Release Date: October 14, 1944
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Plane Daffy © Warner Brothers‘Plane Daffy’ opens with a military squad of pigeons hopelessly awaiting the return of Homer Pigeon, a dopey character, resembling Bob Clampett’s Bashful Buzzard from ‘Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid’ (1942).

This character has fallen into the clutches of Hatta Mari (an obvious reference to Mata Hari, a Dutch exotic dancer and spy during World War I). Hatta Mari appears to be a seductive pin up pigeon and a spy for the axis powers. After he realizes he has revealed his secret, Homer shoots himself (!).

The squad now seeks another for the job, to which Daffy, ‘the woman hater’, happily volunteers. Finally, after a wild chase, he too has to reveal his secret to the Fuehrer. But it turns out to be “Hitler is a stinker”, to which Adolf exclaims “that’s no secret!”, and Goehring and Goebbels add: “Ja! Everyone knows that!”.

‘Plane Daffy’ is one of the best war cartoons the Warner Bros. studio ever made. It uses a voice over in rhyme, and citation-rich dialogue, and it’s full of extremely wild and zany animation.

Watch ‘Plane Daffy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Hamilton Luske
Release Date: January 7, 1944
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Pelican and the Snipe © Walt DisneyMonte (a pelican) and Video (or Viddy, a snipe) live on top of a lighthouse in Montevideo, Uruguay (hence their names).

Viddy tries to prevent Monte, who’s crazy about the practicing war planes nearby, from ‘sleep-flying’. Unfortunately to no avail…

‘The Pelican and the Snipe’ probably is the cutest cartoon relating to World War II. Told by Sterling Holloway, its story is simple and short, and about friendship instead of sex or violence. Typical in its South American setting, it was originally intended for ‘The Three Caballeros‘,released later that year.

‘ The Pelican and the Snipe’ marks Sterling Holloway’s debut as a voice over artist in a Disney short, after appearing in ‘Dumbo’ (Mr. Stork, 1941) and ‘Bambi‘ (adult Flower, 1942). Holloway would become Disney’s most  favorite voice actor, providing voices and voice overs for Disney cartoons up to the late 1970′s. In fact, he will be most remembered as the voice of Winnie the Pooh (1966-1974).

Watch ‘The Pelican and the Snipe’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Frank Tashlin
Release Date: November 3, 1944
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

I Got Plenty of Mutton © Warner Brothers‘I Got Plenty of Mutton’ opens with a hungry wolf reading in the newspaper that the sheepdog is drafted, leaving the sheep unprotected.

Unfortunately, Killer-Diller, “the wolf destroying ram” is now in charge, giving the wolf a hard time, especially when the wolf dresses up as a sexy female sheep tot lure the ram away. When to get rid of the horny ram, the wolf reveals himself as being a wolf, the ram simply replies “so am I!”.

This cartoon is full of zany silent comedy, with frequent looks into the camera by the poor wolf, anticipating similar looks by Chuck Jones’ Coyote in his Roadrunner series.

Watch an excerpt from ‘I Got Plenty of Mutton’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Frank Tashlin
Release Date: December 11, 1943
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Puss 'n Booty © Warner BrothersThis cartoon opens with “Dicky Bird”, the canary, missing.

Rudolph, the cat who ate the bird (!), pretends the poor fellow has flown out of the window, so his mistress orders another one, which turns out to be considerably harder to catch.

The main body of ‘Puss ‘n Booty’ consists of blackout gags that anticipate the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons by four years.

This short was Warner Bros.’ last cartoon in black and white. Nevertheless, its broad use of blacks, greys and white and the startling camera angles (Frank Tashlin’s trademark) make it as modern as any other cartoon of the era.

Watch ‘Puss ‘n Booty’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack King
Release Date: 1943
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Defense Against Invasion © Walt Disney‘Defense Against Invasion’ is an educational short for the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, the governmental institution, which tried to secure Latin America from the influence of the Axis powers.

The office commissioned quite a few films from Disney, apart from ‘Defense Against Invasion’ e.g. ‘The Grain that built a Hemisphere’ and’The Winged Scourge‘ (both 1943).

Despite its title, ‘Defense Against Invasion’ is not about war, but about vaccination. It uses a voice over to narrate the silent live action sequences of three boys entering a doctor’s office to get vaccinated. This live action part is a little boring, but the principle of vaccination is told with animated sequences in which the human body is depicted as a large city. Here we watch blood cells, ‘little workers’, fight disease (depicted as black creepy crawlers) with modern warfare. Oddly enough, it is the red blood cells, not the white blood cells (who are strangely absent), who are fighting disease.

Despite its peaceful message, the short contains many war metaphors in its fighting sequences, which all have a very science fiction-like look. This makes the short a typical World War II cartoon, after all. The animated sequences are very beautiful. Especially the backgrounds are at times no less than gorgeous.

With its depiction of the body as inhabited by little creatures ‘Defense Against Invasion’ predates Albert Barillé’s successful television series ‘Il était une fois… la vie’ (1987) by over forty years.

Watch ‘Defense Against Invasion’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Bill Roberts
Release Date: August 27, 1943
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Reason and Emotion © Walt Disney‘Reason and Emotion’ is a rather odd propaganda short, telling us about Reason and Emotion, who are depicted as two little characters living inside our heads.

The short ‘demonstrates’ where uncontrolled emotion can lead to: a man gets slapped in the face by a woman, while the woman eats too much. This makes ‘Reason and Emotion’ one of the first cartoons about weight and diets.

Then the short shows how reason is destroyed by Adolf Hitler (in an extraordinarily vicious, but wonderfully animated caricature), who uses fear, sympathy, pride and hate to indoctrinate the Nazi mind. This is one of the propaganda shorts, which treat the Germans as victims of their Nazi leaders (see also ‘Education for Death‘ from the same year). This contrary to the Japanese, who, in WWII animated propaganda films, were all treated as despicable, mean and low. The film also warns against panic and falling for false rumors.

Emotion is depicted as a rough, dumb, but fun-loving caveman, while Reason is a bespectacled thin and rather boring character. One cannot resist to love the Emotion-type, especially in its female form, as depicted in the woman’s head. This female character is animated with gusto by Ollie Johnston.

Watch ‘Reason and Emotion’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: July 3, 1943
Stars: Bugs Bunny
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Wackiki Wabbit © Warner BrothersTwo castaways on a raft are so hungry they are ready to eat each other.

Then they land on a tropical, quasi-Hawaiian island, which strangely enough is inhabited by Bugs Bunny, and the two hungry men immediately try to catch and eat our hero. Of course they don’t manage to do so, and in a hilarious end scene, it’s Bugs, not they, who sails off on an ocean stormer into the distance.

The two castaways were modeled on the cartoon’s story men, Tedd Pierce (the tall one) and Michael Maltese (the short one), and the two men actually voiced their cartoon counterparts themselves.

The cartoon’s real stars however, are its outrageous backgrounds. Designed by Bernyce Polifka and painted by her husband, Gene Fleury, they are arguably the boldest backgrounds in any cartoon from the pre-UPA-era. The island is depicted in brassy, strangely colored, semi-abstract to abstract images, with no sense of three-dimensionality, whatsoever. Nevertheless, the clearly 3D characters read surprisingly well against the outlandish backgrounds.

Polifka had replaced John McGrew, who had worked with Fleury on experimental backgrounds for Chuck Jones cartoons like ‘Conrad the Sailor‘ (1942) and ‘The Aristo-Cat‘ (1943), but who joined the navy in 1942. The couple shared McGrew’s boldness, and worked with Jones on ‘Hell-Bent for Election’ (1944), one of UPA’s earliest films. But apparently they left Warner Bros. somewhere in 1943-1944. In 1949 they worked for Lou Bunin’s part live action part stop motion feature ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but after this job, they seemingly disappeared from the animation world. So, ‘Wackiki Wabbit’ remains their most famous and greatest legacy. The backgrounds themselves can be admired on the late Michael Sporn’s excellent blogpost on this cartoon.

Watch ‘Wackiki Wabbit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 18
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Jack Rabbit and the Beanstalk
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: A Corny Concerto

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: December 12, 1942
Stars: Bugs Bunny
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Case of the Missing Hare © Warner BrothersBugs Bunny is bullied by a large magician, leading to his catch phrase “Of course you realize this means war”. In the second part of the film Bugs Bunny wrecks the magician’s show, and finally the magician himself.

Bugs’s catch phrase was borrowed from Groucho Marx, an important inspiration on Bugs Bunny’s character anyhow. The line would become typical for Bugs as directed by Chuck Jones. Unlike Bob Clampett, Jones would treat the rabbit not as intrinsically mischievous, but as reacting to injustice placed on him.

The large magician in ‘Case of the Missing Hare’ is the first of many particularly large adversaries Jones gave to Bugs, all bullying the rabbit into action. Thus, the magician is the direct forerunner of e.g. the warehouse keeper in ‘Hare Conditioned‘ (1945), the crusher in ‘Rabbit Punch‘ (1948) and Giovanni Jones in ‘Long-Haired Hare‘ (1949).

‘Case of the Missing Hare’ shows that by the end of 1942 Chuck Jones’s mastery over material had become fully realized. The cartoon features his typical character designs, extravagant key poses, original camera angles and sense of design. The latter is exemplified by background artists Gene Fleury and John McGrew’s very unnatural backgrounds. In the first part we watch pink trees and yellow skies. In the second part they got even bolder, reducing the backgrounds to abstract forms in two colors, only.

In its typical and original design and cinematography ‘Case of the Missing Hare’ looks forward to Jones’ mature work of the late forties and fifties.

Watch ‘Case of the Missing Hare’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 14
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: The Hare-Brained Hypnotist
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Tortoise Wins by a Hare

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: March 28, 1942
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

The Wabbit Who Came to Supper © Warner BrothersElmer Fudd will inherit three million dollars from Uncle Louie, if he doesn’t hurt any animal, especially rabbits. Bugs, of course, takes advantage of the situation.

‘The Wabbit Who Came to Supper’ was Friz Freleng’s second Bugs Bunny cartoon, only, but he understood the brassy character completely. The highlight of the cartoon is the scene in which in the middle of a chase a clock chimes and Bugs bursts into a convincing New Year routine… in July. This scene not only shows the fresh character’s overpowering personality, it also shows Bugs Bunny’s ability to produce necessary attributes out of nowhere, this time confetti and streamers.

Bugs’ design, however, is rather unappealing and uncertain in this cartoon. And Elmer Fudd, too, has the less appealing alternate fatty design, which Robert Clampett had introduced in ‘Wabbit Twouble’ (1941). Luckily, this design was short-lived and lasted only four cartoons.

Two years later Hanna and Barbera would use the same plot idea in the Tom and Jerry cartoon ‘Million Dollar Cat’ (1944) with even better results.

Watch ‘The Wabbit Who Came to Supper’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 8
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Wabbit Twouble
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: The Wacky Wabbit

 

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: March 2, 1940
Stars: proto-Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
Rating: ★★
Review:

Elmer's Candid Camera © Warner BrothersIn this slow and only moderately funny cartoon Elmer tries to photograph nature, but he’s hindered by a predecessor of Bugs Bunny.

This goofy rabbit is not quite Bugs, even though he behaves very calmly and does a Bugs-style death act. His looks and sounds are very different and he has a Woody Woodpecker-style laugh.

No, ‘Elmer’s Candid Camera’ importance lies in the fact that it marks Elmer’s debut. Although he’s still wearing an Egghead suit (the character from which he evolved), he lacks Egghead’s goofiness, and he has received his distinctive voice provided by Arthur Q. Bryan. Moreover, he utters his famous line “Wabbit twacks” for the first time here.

Unfortunately, ‘Elmer’s Candid Camera’ is more historically interesting than entertaining, and outside its historical importance, the cartoon is quite forgettable.

Watch ‘Elmer’s Candid Camera’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://ulozto.net/live/xzv5WBh/bugs-bunny-elmers-candid-camera-1940-avi

This is the last of four cartoons featuring a Bugs Bunny forerunner
To the first Bugs Bunny cartoon: A Wild Hare
To the previous proto-Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hare-um Scare-um

 

 

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: December 25, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Meathead
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Baby Puss © MGMA little girl makes Tom behave like a baby.

Tom only reluctantly cooperates, until he discovers the milk bottle. Jerry mocks him and warns three alley cats of Tom’s baby behavior. They mock him too, all too more violently, which leads to a frantic samba finale in which the little cat does a great Carmen Miranda impersonation, singing her hit song ‘Mamãe eu quero’ from the film ‘Down Argentine Way’ (1940).

Tom’s friends, the red cat from ‘Sufferin’ Cats‘, Meathead (in his debut) and a little cat, would reunite only seven years later in ‘Saturday Evening Puss‘ (1950). Apart from the finale the greatest scene is when Jerry behaves like ‘she’ is caught naked in the bathroom of a doll house.

Watch ‘Baby Puss’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.11

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Yankee Doodle Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Zoot Cat

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: June 26, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Yankee Doodle Mouse © MGMIn this Tom and Jerry short their chase routine is pictured as if it were World War II itself.

War references include a periscope, a “jeep”, (paper) planes, a bomber (throwing light bulbs), a parachute (a bra), and lots of fireworks. Tom is the clear villain now, with Jerry acting the role of the brave American soldier. At the end of the cartoon Tom explodes in the sky revealing the American flag to which Jerry salutes.

Although not a real war cartoon (Tom and Jerry do not fight Nazis or anything like that), it is drenched in war spirit. Moreover, the short is extremely fast and furious, with gags coming without any break. No wonder it won an Academy Award.

Watch ‘Yankee Doodle Mouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.11

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Lonesome Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Baby Puss

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: May 22, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Mammy Two-Shoes
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Lonesome Mouse © MGM‘The Lonesome Mouse’ is one of those Tom & Jerry cartoons in which the two enemies work together.

When Mammy throws Tom out of the house, Jerry rejoices. He even paints an Adolf Hitler-mustache and hairdo on Tom’s portrait, But then he gets lonesome, so he and Tom set up a great fake chase to get Tom back into the house.

Highlight of this cartoon are the loony faces Jerry makes to scare Mammy. Tom and Jerry actually talk in this cartoon.

Watch ‘The Lonesome Mouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.10

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Sufferin’ Cats
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Yankee Doodle Mouse

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: January 16, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Meathead
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Sufferin' Cats © MGMIn ‘Sufferin’ Cats’ Tom and a red alley cat fight over Jerry.

‘Sufferin’ Cats’ introduces the red alley cat, who was Tom’s first rival in the series. The red cat would return in ‘Baby Puss‘ later that year, but soon he would be replaced by Meathead, a black cat.

‘Sufferin’ Cats’ is a wild and funny cartoon, which is considerably faster than all earlier Tom and Jerry shorts. The gags come in quick and plenty, and are supported by one of Scott Bradley’s all time best scores, in which Tom and Jerry’s musical themes build up to a frantic finale during the cartoon’s main chase. Metamorphosis now reaches greater hights than in ‘The Bowling Alley Cat‘, when the red cat changes into an ironing board when crashing into the gate.

With its increase in speed and violence ‘Sufferin’ Cats’ marks a new era in the Tom & Jerry Series: from now on the duo would be less cute, but much funnier.

 

Watch ‘Sufferin’ Cats’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.9

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Fine Feathered Friend
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Lonesome Mouse

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: October 10, 1942
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Fine Feathered Friend © MGMDuring a chase at the barnyard Jerry seeks shelter with a large and angry chicken.

This short contains the very first example of the extreme cartoon violence that would become so typical for the Tom and Jerry series: the scene in which Jerry tries to cut off Tom’s head with a pair of hedge-shears.

The short’s highlight, however, is Jerry’s Josephine Baker-like dance with yellow feathers when he’s trying to disguise himself as a little chick.

Watch ‘Fine Feathered Friend’ yourself and tell me what you think:

vimeo.com/54039573

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 8

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Bowling Alley Cat
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Sufferin’ Cats

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: July 18, 1942
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Bowling Alley-Cat © MGM‘The Bowling Alley Cat’ is the first Tom and Jerry cartoon to take please outside their familiar home setting. In this short the cat and the mouse play at an abandoned bowling alley.

The short is mildly paced, but its timing is excellent and the silent comedy delightful, supported by Scott Bradley’s excellent score.

The film contains an early example of metamorphosis, in which Tom changes into a familiar household object, this time a ninepin. This type of metamorphosis would become a recurrent gag in the Tom & Jerry series. Compared to later entries Tom’s deformation in ‘The Bowling Alley Cat’ is mild, and still a little plausible. This kind of plausibility was abandoned the next year in the more frantic cartoon ‘Sufferin’ Cats‘.

Watch ‘The Bowling Alley Cat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 7

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Puss ‘n Toots
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Fine Feathered Friend

Director: Juan Antin
Release Date: October 3, 2002
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Mercano el marciano © Juan Antin‘Mercano el Marciano’ is a curious feature film from Argentine about an ugly little Martian who gets stranded in the evil city of Buenos Aires, where he ends up living in the sewer.

Here he builds a virtual Mars to play in for himself on the internet, but soon it is discovered and exploited by businessmen. Together with a nerdy boy and a trio of alternatives Mercano takes revenge. This leads to a silly musical finale.

The film uses original designs and is nicely animated. Unfortunately, it is also hampered by slow timing, poor gags, graphic violence, ugly colors and bad sound design. The result is an original, yet mediocre film, which is not too surprising, when one considers the film was made with a budget of only $250,000 (for comparison: a contemporary Hollywood production like ‘Monsters, Inc’ cost $115 million).

‘Mercano el Marciano’ seems to be an early example of an international movement in animation film, which favors urban settings, violence and rather adult material (e.g. ‘The District!’ (2004)  from Hungary, and ‘George the Hedgehog’ (2011) from Poland).

Watch ‘Mercano el Marciano’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

 

Directors: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders
Release Date: June 21, 2002
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Lilo & Stitch © Walt DisneyStitch is a genetic experiment (called ‘experiment 6-2-6′) designed to destroy, but sentenced into exile bu an intergalactic councel.

But our fluffy little mutant escapes and ends at the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where he befriends lonely little Lilo, who lives a difficult life with her older sister Nani after the death of their parents. Here Stitch learns to tone down his inclination to destruction and how to love and care.

‘Lilo & Stitch’ is a very appealing film. Its designs, based on Chris Sanders’ idiosyncratic story drawings, are round, cuddly and original. Adding to the friendly atmosphere are the lush watercolor backgrounds, the first in a Disney feature since ‘Bambi‘ (1942). The animation is superb throughout, and Lilo, Stitch and Nani are round and instantly likable characters, who have nothing of the wisecracking arrogance of many other animated characters from the era. The film’s familiar family theme never gets cloying and is countered by a lot of humor. The result is a film full of love and joy.

The film also eschews the rather tiresome Disney musical convention, and features an original soundtrack featuring Elvis Presley songs and Hawaiian chants, instead. True, the plot borrows freely from ‘Men in Black’ (1997), and the science fiction setting feels a little awkward in a Disney film, but the story of loneliness, love and acceptance is well-told, and equally appealing to the young and old.

Moreover, the film proves that one can perfectly well make a good movie out of original and typical elements. A film maker like Hayao Miyazaki knows this, off course. But unfortunately, this message has been lost on the American animation studios, as very few of the subsequent American feature films succeeded in displaying this level of originality in characterization, soundtrack and design.

‘Lilo & Stitch’ seemed to be Disney’s last masterpiece of traditional animation. Even though it was followed by yet two other 2D animation features, it marked an end of an era lasting 65 years. Disney soon jumped the computer animation band wagon with rather mediocre results, arguably only hitting their stride in 2010 with ‘Tangled’. Luckily, in 2009 the studio made a surprising, but unfortunately isolated return to the traditional medium with the excellent ‘The Princess and the Frog’.

Watch the trailer for ‘Lilo & Stitch’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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