Lé Judge Victor Valdivia lives at N'est-Ce Pas, which, of course, is French for "Nasty Pass."
Pepé Le Pew: Zee Best of Zee Best compiles all seventeen Looney Tunes cartoons that feature the titular character, the French skunk who tries desperately to woo a reluctant female cat who is repelled by his odor (and, sometimes, his personality). Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones famously stated that he created Pepé as a commentary on his romantic inadequacies, and that self-deprecation is why Pepé, despite sometimes skirting dangerously close to aggressive, is ultimately too pathetic to be truly upsetting. This set has several cartoons that have never been released on any home video format. While it's not a good idea to watch them all at once (lest you realize how repetitive they are), they do have enough amusing moments to make this DVD worth seeing.
Here are the 17 cartoons collected on this disc:
The cartoons mostly follow the same basic formula: There's a female black cat who, by dint of some trivial contrivance, ends up with a white stripe down her back. Pepé comes along, sees the striped black animal, mistakes her for a female skunk, and mercilessly pursues her, even though his stench is overpowering. This formula is followed so rigidly that after a while, it's not as much fun to watch the cartoons. Unlike Daffy Duck, a complex character who revealed different dimensions of his personality with each cartoon, Pepé Le Pew is pretty much a one-joke character. He's a wannabe lothario who can't understand why the object of his desire is so frantically trying to get away from him. This may also make the cartoons seem a bit distasteful if you watch several of them in a row. Watching Pepé refuse to take "no" for an answer can skirt the edges of political incorrectness, so keep that in mind if you're the type to screen cartoons for mildly objectionable content. Only "Odor of the Day," which has a mute skunk who only looks sort of like Pepé, and "Dog Pounded," a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon in which Pepé makes a cameo appearance, diverge from this structure, and they're the least typical shorts here.
There are, however, variations that keep this set from being too monotonous. The first Pepé Le Pew cartoon, "Odor-able Kitty," actually ends revealing that Pepé is a married father from Brooklyn who fakes his French accent. While that idea was not carried over to future cartoons, it's still a typically Chuck Jones twist to make it an amusing ending. Similarly, you can enjoy the pokes at Hollywood in "Past Perfumance," which includes lampoons of Hollywood stars and directors of the era in mock French approximations (such as "Clara Beaux" and "Rin Et Tin Et Tin"). There are all sort of faux-Gallic jokes like that scattered throughout the cartoons, such as the zoo animals in "Scent-imental Romeo" (a lion who roars "Le Roar," for instance). Even if you weary of watching Pepé coming on too strong umpteen times, you can at least enjoy the subtle background jokes and details in these cartoons.
Technically, the disc is a typically solid Warner Bros. effort. The cartoons alternate between 1.33:1 and anamorphic widescreen (although there's an option to watch all of them in 1.33:1), and they all look sharp. The mono mix is also solid. There are no extras.
In any event, this is still a good buy for Looney Tunes fans. Even if Pepé Le Pew is one of the second-tier characters in the series, there are still enough amusing moments here to make it worth getting. You'll get every Pepé Le Pew cartoon in one disc, including several that are unavailable elsewhere, all in pristine quality. It's what Pepé himself would call "Le bargain."
Lé not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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