Judge David Johnson suspects this disc won't make it into many DVD players of PETA members.
Seriously…not for kids.
Round Three of gratuitous violence perpetrated on cute cartoon animals brings more of the same: blood, decapitations, impalements and an eclectic selection of other killing techniques I didn't even know existed.
Facts of the Case
Happy Tree Friends follows the misadventures of a group of mute, animated woodland creatures who find themselves in varying degrees of pain and torment. Episodes run seven minutes each. Volume Three welcomes nine more installments from Season 1.
Here we go.
• "A Change of Heart"
• "A Hole Lotta Love"
• "Mime to Five"
• "Blast from the Past"
• "Chew Said a Mouthful"
• "See What Develops"
• "Idol Curiosity"
• "Home is Where the Hurt Is"
• "Aw Shucks"
Wow, these guys really know how to capitalize on a premise. As I've said repeatedly in my reviews for the previous two volumes, Happy Tree Friends is a one-gag enterprise, the entire series built on how creatively destroy saccharine Disney cast-offs. To that end, I completely yield all necessary credit and accolades to the wackos behind this endeavor: they are by the finest animators of grotesque cartoon violence I've seen to date (and please refrain from e-mailing me links to anime that will give me nightmares, thanks).
The problem is, the gimmick can grow tired. Episodes tend to bleed (har) into each other and the over-the-top violence blurs together, leaving only the truly distasteful bits remaining memorable. The award for Most @#$%-ed Up gag on this series? The poor bastard that slides down a banister and over a row of nails and gets ripped to pieces in "Home is Where the Hurt Is." Yikes.
The show's humor lies on the morbid scenarios cooked up by the writers and if watching adorable bunny rabbits getting disemboweled sounds like good times to you, then you'll enjoy the mayhem Happy Tree Friends offers. And I don't mean to say that in a pretentious manner. I fondly recall the moronic comics me and my pals did during eighth-grade earth science class to make each other laugh, and—this is probably the best compliment I can offer—the show manages to tickle that rarely-used humor neuron that's been shut down since those days.
What else you may think about the series, it is very well-executed (har har). The Flash animation is bright colorful and obscene when it needs to be; the style fits the juxtaposition of nauseatingly cute and Clive Barker-like horrendous that drives the humor. On DVD, the transfer is strong. Displayed in full frame, the picture quality is strong and the colors sharp. The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is a nice addition.
Extras are leaner on this volume. Storyboards are available for all episodes and the voice actors give some brief interviews. Also, a three-minute montage of violence from the previous episodes is a handy tool for cartoon-murderin' satiation on the quick. Then there's the commentary track, delivered on all the episodes by creator Kenn Navarro, writer Ken Pontac and producer David Ichioka. These guys obviously dig their creation and that's great, but the constant laughing at their own jokes and gags came across as tacky. A supremely annoying commentary track.
I can try to put on a sour face and lecture about the flagging popular culture that gives rise to sick weirdness like Happy Tree Friends, but then I'd be a hypocritical a-hole. This DVD made me laugh.
Someone call the men in white coats, immediately.
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