Category Archives: Cartoon

Screwball Squirrel (1944, Tex Avery)

Screwball Squirrel opens with the protagonist mocking a Disney-like cartoon squirrel and sending him packing. The Disney-like squirrel sounds and looks enough like Thumper from Bambi I forgot Thumper was a rabbit. This moment establishes the cartoon—because the protagonist, the never named Screwy Squirrel, is mocking the cute squirrel to the audience.

Avery doesn’t do a whole lot with breaking the fourth wall—I think there are three or four big gags with it, not including the opening—but doing it immediately sets the cartoon up in that vein.

The majority of the cartoon is Screwy Squirrel tormenting a bird dog. One of the frequent jokes is how stupid the dog behaves. Screwy Squirrel’s not likable, he’s just not an idiot.

The cartoon ends on a reveal; it’s a pointless one… but leads to a funny moment.

Avery understands what he’s playing with and it all works.



Directed by Tex Avery; written by Heck Allen; animated by Preston Blair, Ed Love and Ray Abrams; music by Scott Bradley; produced by Fred Quimby; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Wally Maher (Screwy Squirrel) and Dick Nelson (Meathead)


Balloon Land (1935, Ub Iwerks)

For lack of a better word, Balloon Land is disturbed. It’s a cartoon about a magical place where everyone is a living balloon. Not just people, but plants too. Objects are solid though.

The new balloon people–Iwerks opens showing the reproductive process–are made through one creature’s snot and then inflated. We later learn balloons can be made but not immediately inflated and the snot can also be used as a gooey weapon.

It’s a happy place with a happy song, except outside the gate there’s the Pincushion Man, who murders balloon people with his infinite pin supply. Since he’s been cast out, he’s had to settle for killing the balloon plant life.

Two newborns head out of the protected area and piss him off and Balloon Land‘s narrative gets underway.

The animation’s fine and all that, but it’s a freaky cartoon once one gives it any thought.



Produced and directed by Ub Iwerks; music by Carl W. Stalling; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.


Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010, Joaquim Dos Santos)

Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam is not particularly good. It has a lot of problems, which I’ll enumerate, but it also has a lot of undeniable strengths.

I’ll start with those….

I mean, it’s got James Garner voicing an old wizard. That casting alone makes it worth some kind of look.

And Dos Santos conceives some good action sequences (they’re all based on Superman and Superman II), but set to the delicate electronic score, they work.

Unfortunately, the writing’s weak. Michael Jelenic is fine on dialogue, but the plotting is dumb (why is a thirteen year-old living alone—who pays rent, buys groceries?).

Additionally, there’s some terrible CG and acting. Arnold Vosloo does a Bela Lugosi impression and George Newbern’s a weak Superman.

Plus, the end is—from Superman II again—a superhero beating up a regular person for kicks.

Still, it only runs twenty-five minutes….

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos; screenplay by Michael Jelenic, based on DC Comics characters created by Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, C.C. Beck and Bill Parker; edited by Margaret Hou; music by Benjamin Wynn and Jeremy Zuckerman; produced by Bobbie Page and Dos Santos; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring George Newbern (Superman / Clark Kent), Jerry O’Connell (Captain Marvel), Arnold Vosloo (Black Adam), Zach Callison (Billy Batson), Josh Keaton (Punk), Kevin Michael Richardson (Mister Tawky Tawny), Danica McKellar (Sally) and James Garner (Shazam).