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Case Number 08289: Small Claims Court

Buy Cartoon Adventures Of Gerald McBoing Boing at Amazon

Cartoon Adventures Of Gerald McBoing Boing

Sony // 1950 // 29 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Corupe (Retired) // January 10th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Paul Corupe practices his speed typing skills by typing "boing boing" over and over.

The Charge

This is the story of Gerald McCloy, and the strange things that happened to that little boy.

The Case

It's a shame that the accepted history of American animation has been completely dominated by big names like Warner Brothers, Disney, and Hanna-Barbera, while lesser-known studios have been relegated to mere footnotes. Take, for example, United Productions of America (UPA), a small toon outfit born out the Disney animator's strike in the early 1940s that has been almost forgotten today. Despite their humble stature, UPA created artistically innovative shorts for theatrical exhibition that made bold use of jazzy—almost cubist—compositions, space-age boomerang designs, and intense splashes of color. In the 1950s, UPA was signed under contract to Columbia Pictures, and achieved modest fame with a series of Mr. Magoo shorts, but their most enduring work remains the Gerald McBoing Boing cartoons, based on a story by esteemed children's author Dr. Seuss about a boy who couldn't speak English, but instead communicates with a variety of wild sound effects.

To coincide with a new, revamped Gerald McBoing Boing cartoon that premiered on the Cartoon Network in 2005, Sony is collecting all four of Gerald's original seven-minute animated shorts on DVD. They are:

• Gerald McBoing Boing
This classic, Oscar-winning cartoon introduces Gerald and his quirky speech disorder. Narrated in a rhyming, Seussian style, the story has Gerald ostracized by his friends and family until he finds employment at a local radio station, mouthing the sound effects for radio dramas. The style is visually inventive, and the story is unusual and sweet—it's easy to see why UPA followed up this critical and audience favorite with a handful of new adventures penned by their own writers.

• Gerald McBoing Boing on Planet Moo
The only short without the rhyming narrator, this cartoon has Gerald abducted by aliens from Moo, who want to get into the Earth tourist trade. Unfortunately, the gullible King of Moo mistakenly believes that all humans speak like Gerald, and enrolls his citizens in language class to learn handy phrases like "boinga, boinga, boinga." The finest McBoing Boing script written by UPA, "Gerald McBoing Boing on Planet Moo" is actually quite funny, with a series of misunderstandings on Moo that briefly have the King and Gerald imprisoned.

• Gerald McBoing Boing's Symphony
When a orchestra doesn't show up for their performance at the radio station, Gerald fills in, using his talent to recreate the sound of all the instruments-until he gets the pages mixed up with his radio play script. Another artistic success that makes excellent use of UPA's limited animation technique, this short may be more or less just a rehash of the original story, but it more than makes up for it with a surprisingly hip design. Particularly notable is the opening scene on an elevator, where Gerald is squeezed by a carload of adults, all rendered in elastic silhouette shapes—very mod!

• How Now Boing Boing
The weakest short on the disc, "How Now Boing Boing" has Gerald taken to a speech therapist to cure his problem. The good doctor realizes that Gerald's larynx is upside-down, and devises a solution so the boy can speak intelligibly to his parents. This one is only mildly humorous and lacks any memorable artistic styling—and besides, who wants to see Gerald cured?

All four shorts were released on VHS in the mid-1980s, but they certainly didn't look this good—"Gerald McBoing Boing on Planet Moo" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it looks incredible by comparison! The others retain their original full frame aspect ratios, and they feature bright, bold transfers that are easy to recommend. Sound is also quite good for a mono track—clear and relatively full.

Now for the kicker—all of these cartoons have already been released to DVD, just not in one package. "Gerald McBoing Boing's Symphony" can be found as an extra on Sony's release of the Dr. Seuss film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, while the other three are on the two-disc Hellboy set. I think it's a little much to ask consumers to shell out for an extremely brief 29-minute DVD of previously released material with no bonus features, but here we are. There was a 13-episode TV series that followed these shorts called The Gerald McBoing Boing Show that would have made a nice addition to the set (assuming Sony owns it), or why not just release a complete edition of UPA's "Jolly Frolics" series, a run of UPA theatrical cartoons that featured all four McBoing Boing shorts? Seems like a missed opportunity.

When it comes right down to it, though, the UPA cartoons are grossly underrepresented on DVD, and Gerald McBoing Boing is the cream of the small studio's animated crop. Those who don't care to pick up Hellboy on DVD but still want to add this important animated classic to their collection should boinga boinga down to their DVD retailer and grab this ASAP.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 82

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 29 Minutes
Release Year: 1950
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• All Ages
• Animation
• Classic

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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