For the first Weekend Short of 2013, it’s time to revisit one of the classics, a Tom and Jerry that has found its way on to the internet for all to enjoy. This is one of my favourite Tom and Jerry cartoons, but I’m sure everyone has a unique favourite. If you have any short films to recommend, or have made one yourself, let me know in the comments section or on facebook or twitter (see the sidebar). Enjoy this classic bit of slapstick.
When you consider the content of Tom and Jerry cartoons, you may have reason to be concerned. Rarely has television for children been so consistently violent, the rage meted out on poor Tom is enough to kill a thousand cats. Every episode, the cat gets destroyed in a number of ridiculous and painful ways, when really he is just doing the house a good service by getting rid of a persistent pest. The horrors inflicted on this poor feline have been parodied very effectively by the Simpsons’ Itchy and Scratchy, and so this duo have become one of the most familiar cartoon sights in children’s television. It’s easy to forget, therefore, that Hanna Barbera’s iconic creations are amazing examples of just how inventive and wacky you can be with animation. There’s a dazzling wit and a visual ingenuity in all of their cartoons, from the way they match music up with action in Cat Concerto to the way a lot of the action happens off screen in Quiet Please! (both are award winning shorts, well worth watching.)
Designs on Jerry is no different, playing around with the medium to create big laughs. By bringing Tom’s drawings to life, the violence can become even more absurd and over the top, as the characters literally unravel on screen. The animation within the animation draws attention to the silliness of it all, but opens up new ways of committing heinous violence – a rubber can neuter the cat, and a pencil can change the entire shape of his body. It’s a similar concept to the greatest Looney Tunes cartoon ever – A Duck Amuck. I guess I chose to write about this and not A Duck Amuck simply because of the ludicrous Rube Goldberg style machine that Tom creates at the end. It’s so over the top you have to admire it. Managing to be both silly and very intelligent all at once, Designs on Jerry proves that the old cartoons, the ones we used to love as children, still have so much to enjoy even as adults. A word of warning, however: once you start watching Tom and Jerry shorts on youtube, it’s very difficult to stop.