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    DROOPY: THE COMPLETE THEATRICAL COLLECTION

Review by Michael Jacobson

Directors:  Tex Avery, Michael Lah
Audio:  Dolby Digital Mono
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1, Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  Two Featurettes
Length:  200 Minutes
Release Date:  May 15, 2007

“Hello all you happy people.”

Cartoons ***1/2

Cartoons and Tex Avery…can you really think of one without the other?

Avery, like a lot of other young up and comers, got his start in the loony Warner Bros. animation factory back in the day.  But he soon separated himself from the crowd with his wild, free, zany approach to making cartoon shorts.  In animation anything was possible, and in Tex Avery’s world, the confines of ‘possible’ were stretched just as far as his hapless characters’ forms.

He pioneered a lot of what made the “Looney Tunes” so loony before heading to MGM, taking his style, unbridled imagination and sense of fun with him.  Most of his shorts were based on gags and situations rather than identifiable recurring characters, but there was one notable exception.  That would be Droopy.

The loveable, drawling, perpetually sad-eyed little pup became an icon with his first appearance in “Dumb Hounded”.  Who would have thought this guy could become such a thorn in the side of Avery’s much bigger but usually much dumber bad guys?  Whether it was the wolf, or Spike (or “Butch”) the bulldog, the villains would have had free reign if not for the dog that continually reminds us he’s the hero.

Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection contains all 24 of Avery’s (and later, Michael Lah’s) shorts that ran in front of theatrical features in the heyday of cartoons, and this two disc set is a laugh riot from start to finish.  Interestingly enough, cartoons in the day were not considered a children’s medium, even though kids usually ate them up.  Each disc has a disclaimer that some of the humor may seem a little sexist or racist by today’s standards, so you can consider that a warning or a chance to delve into some cultural history in a fun and crazy way.

My personal all-time favorite Droopy short is “The Three Little Pups”, an endlessly hilarious take on that pig story we all know.  It introduced a new wolf to the fold, a dog catcher who constantly made amusing asides to the audience.  “Now THERE’S a well-built doghouse, man!”

In later years, Avery would give way to Michael Lah, and producer Fred Quimby would turn over the reigns to a couple of guys named Hanna and Barbera, and the cartoons would become as wide as the movies that followed them.  But there were still plenty of new tricks up the old dog sleeves, even if “Millionaire Droopy” was actually exactly the same short as “Wags to Riches”, just stretched out for scope!

Droopy hasn’t done as much of late, other than a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but he can at least always say he was an Oscar nominee, having earned a nod for his work in “One Droopy Knight”, where he and the bulldog battle for the chance to slay a dragon and win the hand of the fair princess.  Droopy versus a dragon seems like the ultimate mismatch, but watch out…you never know.  “Know what?  That makes me mad.”

I can’t tell you how much fun I had with this collection, and I’ll bet you will, too.  Droopy is as classic as they come, and Tex Avery’s classic character and cartoons will have today’s audiences in stitches just as much as in the sunny bygone days of animation.

Video ***

Some of these shorts go back a long way, but overall, I was impressed with the presentation.  Sure, there’s an age spot here or there, but overall, they’ve held up well, with good color, clarity and detail.  And you have to love the fact that the CinemaScope shorts are in their correct aspect ratio and anamorphically enhanced.  Nice job, folks!

Audio **

They may be mono, but these cartoons offer plenty of zany punch, with great music, constant effects, and almost non stop action.  Fans will be quite happy.

Features **

The extras on disc two include a retrospective look at Tex Avery and Droopy, plus a pair of comedians sound off on their favorite Droopy moments.

Summary:

You know what?  I’m happy to have the complete theatrical collection of Droopy on DVD.  Hooray.

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