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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: May 17, 1940
Stars: Hunky & Spunky
Rating:  ★★½
Review:

A Kick in Time © Max FleischerThe last stage of the Fleischers’ Color Classics series was solely devoted to Hunky & Spunky, the donkey duo introduced in the eponymous cartoon from 1938.

When Betty Boop retired in 1939, the Fleischers were left without a star of their own (their biggest star Popeye was owned by King Features). Thus Hunky & Spunky, were promoted to be their top stars, together with Gabby from ‘Gulliver’s Travels‘ (1939) and the Stone Age characters, both introduced in 1940. None of these stars had any appeal, and they hardly stood a chance against contemporaries like Disney’s Donald Duck and Goofy, or Warner Bros.’ Porky Pig and Daffy. Nevertheless, Hunky and Spunky survived until 1941, starring seven cartoons in total.

In their fourth cartoon, ‘A Kick in Time’, Spunky is kidnapped and sold to an Italian rag collector, who irons the little burro. Spunky’s antics with the bit and irons are very reminiscent of Donald Duck’s problems with inanimate objects. However, as the bit and irons are clearly introduced as tools of torture, Spunky’s antics are painful to watch, not funny. Meanwhile Hunky seeks his/her son in the large city, and she saves his/her child in the nick of time from being crushed by an approaching streetcar.

There’s little to enjoy in ‘A Kick in Time’, but the cartoon is well animated by top animators Shamus Culhane and Al Eugster, and features quite elaborate human designs and realistic close ups of human hands. Moreover, the urban setting gives the cartoon a distinct character, absent in the other Hunky & Spunky cartoons.

Watch ‘A Kick in Time’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘A Kick in Time’ is available on the DVD set ‘Somewhere in Dreamland – Max Fleischer’s Color Classics: The Definitive Collection’

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Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: October 28, 1933
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse
Rating: ★★★
Review:

The Pet Store © Walt DisneyMickey applies for a job at Tony’s pet store. Then Minnie drops by and together they perform their usual song-and-dance-routine.

‘The Pet Store’ was Mickey’s last cartoon to feature the half song-and-dance routine half story formula, a story structure that by 1933 had become old-fashioned.

This time Minnie’s quite tiresome lalala’s are interrupted by ‘Beppo, the movie monk’, an ape who has read about King Kong (that movie was released the same year) and who wants to imitate him, after he had imitated Stan Laurel. This leads to a nice spoof of King Kong, in which the ape climbs a pile of boxes with Minnie under his arm while being attacked by birds, mimicking the planes in the original feature. In the end Mickey and Minnie are fleeing the pet shop, just before the owner returns, leaving it in complete ruin.

Unfortunately, by 1933 such battle scenes had become as jaded as the song-and-dance routines, and the one in ‘The Pet Store’ is not really different from the ones in ‘The Bird Store‘, ‘King Neptune‘, or ‘Babes in the Woods‘ (all 1932). Nevertheless, the take on ‘King Kong’ is marvelous, and more original than Walter Lantz’s much more literal spoof ‘King Klunk‘ from one month earlier.

Tony is the first elaborate human to enter Mickey’s world, being on par with the human characters in the Silly Symphony ‘The Pied Piper‘ from one month earlier. He would be topped, however, by the giant in Mickey’s next cartoon, ‘Giantland‘. Part of the fun in this cartoon is provided by Tony’s pseudo-Italian labels (like “birda seed” and “biga da sale”), a type of pun that was later borrowed extensively by Chuck Jones in his Pepe le Pew-cartoons.

Watch ‘The Pet Store’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 61
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Steeple Chase
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Giantland

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