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Director: Paul Fennell?
Release Date: 1940
Stars: Gran’ Pop Monkey
Rating:  ★
Review:

Baby Checkers © Ub Iwerks‘Baby Checkers’ is the last of three surviving Gran’ Pop Monkey cartoons, a cut series made in the last days of the Ub Iwerks studio.

The cartoon copies the story of the first, ‘Beauty Shoppe‘, in that Gran’ Pop Monkey and his two grandsons try a new business. This time they try their luck with a baby nursery. The first day is highly successful, with countless mothers bringing in their babies. Unfortunately, Gran’ Pop Monkey’s system to remember which baby is whose, soon runs haywire, and causes much discomfort among the mothers at the end of the cartoon. In between all kinds of things go wrong, like feeding and bathing the baby animals.

Nowhere ‘Baby Checkers’ gets near being funny, even if the short makes more sense than ‘A Busy Day‘. The action remains tiresome, the story is disjointed, and the grand finale anything but that. The terrible voice acting and erratic designs don’t help either, and like in the other two Gran’ Pop Monkey cartoons, only the musical score is of a high quality. This, of course, wasn’t enough, and although the reasons are unknown, the series was justly abandoned.

‘Baby Checkers’ has only survived in a black and white copy, which is available on the DVD ‘Cultoons! Rare, Lost and Strange Cartoons! Volume 3: Monkeys, Monsters & More!’

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Director: Paul Fennell?
Release Date: 1940
Stars: Gran’ Pop Monkey
Rating:  ★
Review:

A Busy Day © Ub Iwerks‘A Busy Day’ is the second of three surviving Gran’ Pop Monkey cartoons, and arguably the worst of the trio.

The short starts excellently enough, with a rhythmical start of the day, with sound effects, music and images being in perfect harmony to evoke a bright and promising morning. However, this sequence is discarded all too soon, when we cut to Gran’ Pop Monkey, who’s still in bed. His two grandsons awake him, and we watch the trio on a working day in their office on a high tree in the jungle.

This setting itself strains the believability of the cartoon, but worse, from that point on, things just start happening on the screen. Somehow, they involve some sneezing by Gran’ Pop Monkey, but otherwise nothing makes sense. In the end of the cartoon an exhausted Gran’ Pop Monkey ends up in bed again, and we, as an audience, are glad that this endless cartoon is over, even if it’s only seven minutes long.

Watch ‘A Busy Day’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘A Busy Day’ is available on the DVD ‘Cultoons! Rare, Lost and Strange Cartoons! Volume 3: Monkeys, Monsters & More!’

Director: Paul Fennell?
Release Date: 1940
Stars: Gran’ Pop Monkey
Rating:  ★★½
Review:

Beauty Shoppe © Ub IwerksThe Gran’ Pop Monkey cartoon were made during the aftermath of the Ub Iwerks studio (then called Cartoon Films, LTD), just before Iwerks sold the studio and went back to Disney himself.

The character Gran’ Pop Monkey was based on illustrations by British artist Lawson Wood (1878-1957), and in 1939 the studio announced it would make 24 cartoons with the character. However, only three are known today, which were all three released in 1940. In fact, as Yowp notices in his comment to Steve Stanchfield’s informative blog post on this cartoon, these three had already been finished by the end of 1938, so perhaps these were the only ones ever made. In any case, it remains unclear why the series was discontinued, but one thing is certain: they are far from classics.

All three Gran’ Pop Monkey cartoons were shot in Cinecolor, a 2-color system, lacking the vibrant color range of Technicolor, and although the animation is fair, the stories, the designs, voices and gags are not, and the three films make a tiresome watch. In fact, the most enjoyable part of these three cartoons is their excellent musical score.

The first, ‘Beauty Shoppe’ is arguably the best of the surviving trio. In this short Gran’ Pop Monkey is a barber, helped by his two grandsons (who look like macaques, while Gran’ Pop Monkey clearly is a chimpanzee). Business isn’t going well, however, in contrast to that of the beauty salon across the street (the film takes place in a jungle, but anyway). So, one of the grandson suggests to copy the salon’s formula. Soon, female animals rush into Gran’ Pop Monkey’s cabin-turned-beauty salon (including a colorful company of a badger, a penguin, a seal, a pig and a kangaroo). When a gangster-like gorilla demands they make his wife, a hippo, beautiful, things turn very bad for the trio, indeed. Curiously, ‘Beauty Shoppe’ starts with some dialogue in rhyme, which is discarded halfway.

Watch ‘Beauty Shoppe’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Beauty Shoppe’ is available on the DVD ‘Cultoons! Rare, Lost and Strange Cartoons! Volume 3: Monkeys, Monsters & More!’

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