The usual caveats: I know many of the people who worked on this cartoon, and can’t speak highly enough about their talent, and that includes John K.
But on John’s blog he holds up Boo Boo Runs Wild as what really works in a cartoon. I remember watching it a few times – once, the first time, in shock and awe that he got away with what he did. And then, afterwards… Well, that point is for act III of this post.
I have to say, he’s pretty good at making his case over time. I was wondering where this whole “gruntspeak” posting was going – being baffled by how much time and effort he spent discussing the grunting bear in Roger Ramjet.
(For the super hilarious SOMETHINGAWFUL.COM version of these posts, click HERE
and root around. It's awesome.)
Then, of course, I figured it out. It was a couching mechanism for him to pat himself on the back for previous work and point out how words and writers are unimportant in a cartoon.
Fair enough. It's his blog, and it's moderated and doesn't allow anonymous comment so there's no point in even trying to have this discussion there.
So we'll have it here.
But if this is the case, and this is the cartoon is the example of what goes right with animation:
…then lets talk about that.
The cartoon starts at :24 as we pan past a bunch of signs – and ends on a “no shaving” sign on a moose’s ass punctuated by a Bullwinkle Moose, “Hey Watch it!”
From 1:09 to 3:30 – Yogi and Boo Boo wake up, do a funny walk cycle WITHOUT their clothes. There’s a (to me) really funny verbal joke about how all bears must wear at least one human item of clothing, and the bears return to the cave and walk out, repeating the funny walk cycle. We’re 3:30 into the cartoon now.
3:31 – Ranger Smith spends 30 seconds talking to the camera, letting them know he can’t wait to see Yogi screw up.
4:08 – 5:00 – We spend a minute learning “There’s only one thing bears like more than picnic baskets.” Only to have Ranger Smith plop a sign down that says “No tearing of bark.” This sign is never read. And for a cartoon, there’s a hell of a lot of “read me” jokes in here.
From 5:00 – 7:00 –Boo Boo is tired of rules, and is returning to his bear nature. His lips go gray, his nose blue and he now has a different walk cycle as Yogi looks on in horror.
And so ends Act I of a 20 minute cartoon.
I could keep going. I actually did. But as I went on, I found myself getting snarkier and snarkier, and more petty, and that’s not what I’m trying to do. I swear to God.
I think there are some really funny drawings, some excellent timing and some great comedy in here.
But it’s worth asking this: Does this cartoon work because it’s intrinsically hilarious? No. I’m not saying it’s not funny… I’m saying it’s funny because it’s PARODY. A Moose. That isn't Bullwinkle. Talks in Bullwinkle's voice. Parody.
Things work and are funny here because you know the characters already.
Boo Boo SHOULDN’T run wild. Yogi SHOULDN’T attack the ranger. Cindy SHOULDN’T be swapping tongues with Boo Boo. The Ranger shouldn’t be pulling out a gun to shoot Boo Boo.
In the end, this is a story about:
• Boo Boo meets self
• Boo Boo loses self
• Boo Boo gets self back.
But if you don’t know Boo Boo is the sweet bear, and you don’t know Yogi’s history, this might be amusing, but it doesn’t resonate. Every thing that works in this cartoon works because it’s winking at the past.
It is a cartoon animated to entertain animation professionals and animation enthusiasts. THAT’S IT. While there are great things about this cartoon, it’s not work. It’s REWORK.
Even the Gruntspeak isn’t original - it is admittedly an homage to the Roger Ramjet grunting bear.
This work is exactly, I might add, what writers who write scripts have been accused of doing to destroy the industry.
Does the fact that I don't worship "Boo Boo Runs Wild" as the second coming of the animation Christ mean I can't appreciate the joy these people clearly had making the cartoon? No. Does any of the above discussion mean the cartoon shouldn't have been made? Also no.
Why shouldn't people who love something be able to do it, and within doing that, have fun with it?
But honestly - come on. The difference between a Family Guy parody of Yogi Bear and John K's parody of Yogi bear is the Family Guy parody of Yogi Bear would have been 19 minutes and 30 seconds SHORTER.
I’m posting this for three reasons: One, you can dissect ANYBODY’S work and show how it sucks, or how it’s great. Two: You can do it in a civil way, without taking cheap shots and dismissing an entire profession of people. And three, one person’s “homage” is another person’s “blasphemy” and it’s really in the eye of the beholder.
And with that, I throw to the floor.