Saturday, 19 April 2014

326. Porky's Ant (1941)

Warner cartoon no. 325.
Release date: May 10, 1941.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Chuck Jones.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig).
Story: Rich Hogan.
Animation: Rudy Larriva.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: In the plains of Africa, Porky is seen as a hunter where he is in the lookout for a rare, pygmy ant who consistently pesters Porky in the jungle.

Being Jones' second Porky Pig cartoon he's directed; he appears to try to take more advantage of the character, than the other directors care to do. For one, Porky is the main focus of this short, and his screen time appearance covers the whole short. In this short, Porky is seen hunting in Africa, until he is followed and pestered by a pygmy ant.

He researches on the creature, and discovers of their rarity, and a prize to capture them would consist of $150,000.00. Porky has been possessed of the thought of being rich, and is willing to chase after the pygmy, no matter how dangerous this actions could lead to.

Also, notice how Chuck Jones also appears to be attempting to go at comedic approach this time, without his typical story involving vulnerable creatures at generic places, with pointless ambiguous endings. Here, Chuck is writing what would usually be a straightforward narrative for a well-paced, comedic short. However, in that attempt, he still does not appear to achieve these goals of creating a comedy short; as Chuck is still a victim of slowing scenes down, which will be explained with several examples throughout the review.

When you look at the pygmy ant, however, it is more or less very much like a Chuck Jones creation. He is silent like a majority of Jones' characters from that time period, or even beyond those years.

Unlike most of Chuck's characters where they were interpreted as vulnerable characters, the ant is a mere mischievous ant who it appears Chuck is attempting to give a wacky personality which hunters just happen to not have the ability to catch or retrieve.

Though, Chuck also appears to try to give the ant an identity; as the pygmy ant has discovered that a the pygmy's bone is in fact a lot larger than his own, and the ant desires to keep it. In order for him to desire that, he goes around pestering Porky and his follower by trapping the pygmy with flypaper, as well as a perilous encounter with a lion.

Despite Porky, however getting an extensive appearance in the short and Chuck is certainly true to the title, considering how 'Porky' is indeed written all over the short. On the other hand, Chuck does appear to tame Porky into one of Chuck's own silent characters.

Bear in mind, Porky does speak a couple of lines in the short, particularly when he is reading about the rare pygmy ant, as well as at the end.

Though, having Porky appear silent most of the time is incredibly pointless as it makes the sequence just appear very less fulfilling.

If Porky was going to be used frequently in the short, then the very least Chuck could have done was give him more of his identity such as his stutter or temper. Not only does it do so, but it also appears to give Porky a lot less of an identity, and thus making Porky blander than what Clampett did to him in the 1939-1940 shorts. If Chuck has been intending to achieve some comedy in the short, by making the Porky the victim, then using dialogue as well as more personality would have made it a more diverting short, whereas ear Porky just merely chases after the ant with little to no personality whatsoever.

Despite the many flaws of the short (with still more to go on further); Chuck's sense of artistry and layouts are very complexing and intriguing to watch. For the backgrounds, John McGrew certainly gives the backgrounds a very rich and African feel as he adds overlays to give some of the scenes an effective feel. One example is evident where Porky's feet and the pygmy walk through some silhouetted grass, and in the background the background is slightly obscured, though the effectiveness is still evident. Another piece of artistic imagery which is complex and effective, is the accurate scales which is shown in comparison to Porky, the pygmy and the ant.

Moving ahead; one of the worst slow paced sequences, which without doubt slows the entire cartoon down is the encounter with a sleepy lion. The sequence itself clocks in at almost two minutes and a half long; which is too long for an animated short, though you could just say this is just typical of Chuck.

During the encounter with a lion, Porky is hiding under some shrubs, where he tries to carefully grab the ant with the lion noticing. To start off, we get some tender hand movement which its sense of realism is an echo to Bugs' movements from A Wild Hare.

This then turns to Porky tying a mini lasso with his rope, as he attempts to capture the ant who is hiding by the lion's claw. Almost realising the ant is meeting its fate, the ant then slowly moves the lion's claw to the rope, where the viewer would, perhaps, expect some comical humour out of it.

This indeeds result in Porky calling the claw, only to cause him to place the claw back into the shrub carefully. Almost having caught the ant, the ant stands on top of the lion, swinging down from his head where, almost realising his peril, the sequence turns to even more nonsense.

The ant decides to dance towards Porky in rhythm to Sweet Georgia Brown. The lion opens his eyes, and this results in no climax, just the lion walking away from the ant. The sequence has some of Jones' worst pacing ever; as it has no tone or climatic effect, which makes the sequence an eyesore to watch. The extra sequences such as the ant dancing really had no purpose, it was very unentertaining, and uninspiring. Of course, its animation may look rich in terms of texture, but in terms of timing: Chuck really needed to get a move on.

Also, there happened to be a rather pointless subplot which consisted of Porky's pygmy which had its face attached to flypaper. This had been originally a scheme which Porky attempted to use as bait to the ant, though the flypaper ended up trapping the pygmy's face.

A very unoriginal animated sequence, as this was already an infamous Disney gag from seven years earlier, even though Chuck didn't stage it exactly the same, but the concept is there. And so, this then leads into a little chase sequence where the pygmy chases the lion.

Having really nothing worthwhile to talk about the chase sequence, as it really is uninspiring and I have little to talk about it: the lion is defeated anyway: being trapped by flypaper. In conclusion, Porky and the pygmy congratulate the ant, t for saving their lives. All three of them decide to be equal, and Porky offers the ant a reward as a part of their gratitude. The ant accepts the offer, and his desire ends up coming true: a giant bone resting on top of his head as the cartoon rolls.

From the monotonous concepts Chuck Jones consistently kept using for characters like Sniffles or The Curious Dogs, this is a slight different change, though this shows Chuck using a lot of unnecessary pantomime on Porky. Apart from that slight change, this is really a truly abysmal and vast short which has one of Jones' worst sense of timing, as well as for creating a not so implemented short at all. The short has no tone, and it makes almost forever to build into a climax, which itself does not feel like a climax. Though Porky may have a little more screen time compared to many of his previous shorts, he is a lot more of a blander character than normal, which is an incredible frustration for the reviewer in terms of reviewing--as it has not been a pleasant experience of writing. Overall, this short is an incredible mess timing and characteristic wise, and this is a short which to me is worth to skip (unless you want to the short's limited intriguing visuals).

Rating: 0.5/5.

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