Mr. Bug Goes to Town - DVD movie review

From July 13, 2013

Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941)
AKA: "Hoppity Goes to Town" and "Bugville"
I'd never heard about this film until a few months ago. You only ever hear about Disney animated films from the golden age of animation. But before Disney ever got in the animation game, Max Fleischer and his brothers were animating short cartoons (Out of the Inkwell, Betty Boop, Superman, and Popeye). 
And based on the success of Disney's "Snow White", the Fleischers made "Gulliver's Travels" (which I'll see and review soon), which was financially successful like "Snow White". But Disney's next films ("Pinocchio" and "Fantasia") lost money at the box office... as did Fleischer's next film: "Mr. Bug Goes to Town". 
Most historians blame WWII as the cause for these financial failures. But the Disney studio was saved when the US Army came in and financed the studio to produce war films (see "Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines" for these cartoons/films). But the Fleischer's had no such luck. "Mr. Bug Goes to Town" not only lost money, it put Fleischer Studios under. Paramount booted the Fleischer brothers out and took over their company. 
From wikipedia: "Mr. Bug was originally going to be released in November 1941, but since the Fleischers' rival, Walt Disney Productions, had its film Dumbo released weeks earlier in October and was already a success, Paramount changed the date to December. Having the misfortune of opening two days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mr. Bug was a financial disaster and led to the ousting of Max and Dave Fleischer from the studio they had established in 1919. Paramount reorganized the company as Famous Studios. Max and Dave had not spoken to each other since early in 1940 due to personal and professional disputes."
Sad because "Mr. Bug Goes to Town" SHOULD have done well (as "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia" should have).
Everything is good in this film; the story, the animation; etc. The movie even has music by Leigh Harline. From wikipedia: "He was hired by Walt Disney where he scored more than 50 tunes, including for the Silly Symphonies cartoon series in the 1930s.
"He won the Academy Award for Best Original Music Score and the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "When You Wish Upon a Star," featured in Disney's Pinocchio (1940). The tune later become the theme for Disney's TV series The Wonderful World of Disney.
"Together with Frank Churchill, Larry Morey and Paul J. Smith, Harline was responsible for such Disney film tunes as "I'm Wishing", "Whistle While You Work", "Heigh-Ho" and "Some Day My Prince Will Come" in the Disney studio's first animated feature-length cartoon Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937."
• Fleischer's Roto-scoping is seen clearly any time there's a human on-screen.
• I like how all the bugs refer to humans as "those human ones"
• Mr. Bumble seems like a Disney character, as does little Buzz. Mr. Bumble's daughter, Honey, is cute/sexy looking. Smack the Mosquito and Swat the Fly are cool. They look like characters from a Looney Tunes cartoon. The bad guy, Mr. Beetle, looks like the inspiration for the look of the Penguin in the Batman comics. I liked the protagonist Hoppity, too. He looks the way Jiminy Cricket probably should have, although Jiminy's look DOES fit his stuffy personality better. Hoppity is a lot younger and happy-go-lucky. I like his voice.
• There's some interesting POV camera moves when two of the characters get beat up by a bouncer.
• There some cool camera swaying during a musical number where the singers are calling back and forth to each other.
• There's a neat scene when Hoppity is electrocuted that reminded me of the pink elephant scene in "Dumbo".
• There's a funny line when Hoppity sees a mother bug and her children. "Hello, Mrs. Stinkbug! How are all the little stinkers?"
• I like the way the Fleischer Studio approximated depth-of-field in their films by painting the foreground in-focus/outlined and the background more out-of-focus/hazy.
• Mr. Creeper, the snail, sounds like the same voice--Pinto Colvig--as Grumpy in "Snow White" and I'll bet it is because Colvig was known for working at the Fleischer studio as well as Disney.
• I really enjoyed the ending, where both the good and bad bugs are running around the skyscraper as its being built.
• The opening credits of the DVD copy that I bought has an AWEFUL transfer. It's all pixelated, which really pissed me off because the opening credits look cool, as they're over scenes of a 3D-looking New York city. I'd really like to see the opening credits in a remastered format someday. 
• The movie reminds me too much of Disney Silly Symphonies "Bugs in Love" and "Woodland Cafe".
• There a scene where Hoppity and Mr. Bumble are caught in a tin pale and the background switches to a real filmed pale. It was weird.