How's It Hold Up?
By Danika Juarez
How's It Hold Up?May 31, 2023
Shorts! Popeye: The Spinach Overture
Popeye is back and he's leading his own band now! Unfortunately for him, so is Bluto... right in the neighboring room. This is another music-focused Popeye short, though it's not a musical like last time. Does it hold its own among the shorts we've watched from 1935? Listen to find out!
(Spoiler Section Length - 16min 34sec)
Sometimes there's a movie from your childhood that you really loved, but you're worried about rewatching, because you know the general consensus on the film is that it's no good. And then you watch the film, and you find that the critics aren't exactly wrong, but you still like the messy movie anyway. And then you have to really examine that, figure out if it's just nostalgia talking, or if there truly are positives within the film, despite its flaws. Join us as we go on that journey and ultimately figure out: does Rock-A-Doodle hold up?
Shorts! Merrie Melodies: Billboard Frolics
One thing that hasn't been brought up much when we discuss old cartoon shorts is the music, especially by way of theme songs. They've existed, but we have yet to truly hear some of the most iconic, such as the Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies themes. Well today marks the first time we get to hear one of them, though not serving as a theme song yet. Instead it's sung by characters in the short, and if you've ever watched classic Warner cartoons, hearing it will bring a smile to your face. But is the actual cartoon fun to watch, too? Listen to find out!
Babar the Movie
(Spoiler Section Length - 3min 30sec)
Here we have another movie by Nelvana, and also another movie based on a licensed property. Said property is perhaps a little less well known than the Care Bears, but it has a more storied legacy, too. Babar the Movie is actually part of the Babar animated series that aired in the late 80s, but fortunately knowledge of the series is mostly not required to understand the film. Did we have a good time with this one, or did it leave us as cold as the Care Bears? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Silly Symphonies: Who Killed Cock Robin?
Disney cartoons generally stay within a certain range of tones, and 'dark comedy' does not fit within that range. And yet, this is what we are presented with in this cartoon - a dark comedy about a bird getting murdered and the farce of a trial that happens as a result. With celebrity bird caricatures, jokes about police brutality and maybe Disney's true First Gay Character, there's a lot going on in this cartoon... but is it actually any good? Listen to find out!
Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers
(Spoiler Section Length - 1min 38sec)
We've watched Ghoul School, but what about the movie that began this loose trilogy of Scooby, Scrappy and Shaggy traveling around an encountering real monsters? Are the titular Boo Brothers as much of a treat to be around as the girls from Ghoul School? Does the plot flow any better? It it any good at all? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Mickey's Service Station & Mickey's Fire Brigade
By 1935 even Disney's Mickey Mouse cartoons transitioned away from black and white and into full color - but one of the last few black and white cartoons was fundamental in building a dynamic that is explored over the course of both of these shorts, and many more in the future. Specifically, the dynamic between the three pals known and Mickey, Donald and Goofy.
The Secret of NIMH (feat. Ryan)
(Spoiler Section Length - 6min 29sec)
Some movies attain near mythological status, whether because of their quality or because of the effect they had on people who saw them at a young age. This particular movie is often touted as being one of the best that animation has to offer, while also being held up as a 'that movie scarred me as a child' type of film by adults who vaguely remember it. Does it deserve that sort of hype? Is it good, regardless? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Betty Boop and Grampy
For the year of 1935, this podcast has put a lot of focus on Disney cartoons, but what about its competitors? What about the Fleischers, in particular? They've got two cartoon stars in this era - Betty Boop and Popeye. But one of those two characters was hit particularly hard by the Hays Code. How's that affecting the focus of Boop cartoons by 1935? This short is a prime example. Is it a good cartoon, though? Let's find out!
The Care Bears Movie
(Spoiler Section Length - 4min 23sec)
There are lots of franchises that are synonymous with the 1980s era of toy-commercial-turned-show-or-movie. Transformers, GI Joe, My Little Pony, to name a few. But what about Hallmark's attempt: the Care Bears? Though they're less often remembered, they were actually the first ones to get in on the movie craze for these merchandise machines, and their success paved the way for later films like Transformers the Movie. But though they were successful then, does that success actually translate to a good film, especially so many years later? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Merrie Melodies: I Haven't Got a Hat
Long ago we met Warner Bros first cartoon star, Bosko. But his star faded fast, and has aged particularly poorly, resulting in him being hardly remembered nowadays. Today we meet the first lasting Looney Tunes star, who still appears in media to this very day: Porky Pig. That's right, Looney Tunes as we know it today didn't start with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck or even Egghead (the proto-Elmer Fudd)! No, it started in 1935, with a stuttering pig named Porky, only one of several new characters being thrown at the proverbial wall in this cartoon, and the only one of the group that ultimately stuck, even if it took a few more cartoons for that to happen. But how does this very first outing hold up almost a century later? Listen to find out!
Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
(Spoiler Section Length - 9min 35sec)
Sometimes the story behind the making of a movie is more interesting than the movie itself. this particular film's production story involves many famous names, from the likes of Hayao Miyazaki all the way to George Lucas. Yet the film itself has also managed to garner a cult following in the years since its release, and a fuzzy spot in the memory of many a millennial who watched it as a child. Is this film only worth remembering for how it was made, or does it soar through they sky on a magic bed of its own? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Silly Symphonies: The Tortoise and the Hare
The classic fable, retold by Disney! This short ended up serving as inspiration to a great many people in the animation industry, and was successful enough to eventually get a sequel. But it's also a tale that's been told many a time before and since. Does this near-century old version hold up? Listen to find out!
Cats Don't Dance
(Spoiler Section Length - 6min 6sec)
A lot of animated movies copy Disney and Pixar. Those two studios have had a massive influence on the animation medium and in particular what commercial films released in the US look and feel like. But every now and then you get a movie that tries something new, tries to break the mold in interesting ways, and sometimes, as in the case of Into the Spider-Verse, that experimentation results in both critical and financial success. Other times, like with this film, it does not. Cats Don't Dance swings hard with stylistic influence ranging from classic hollywood, Looney Tunes and even Gene Kelly, but it was ultimately a flop in theatres. That said, does it hold up as an entertaining film anyway? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Mickey Mouse: The Band Concert
A new year, but the same mouse! But he's in color this time! There's also a certain duck and a concert with cameos from a certain dog, a certain cow and a certain horse. Considered by some to be one of the best cartoons ever made, this band concert was a smash hit back in the day, but is it still a fun listen (and watch) today? Listen to find out!
Pete's Dragon (2016)
(Spoiler Section Length - 6min 54sec)
Time for another patented Disney remake! Except, does it really count as that if the setting is completely different, the tone is completely different, the story is completely different, and all the characters are completely different? Does it really count as a remake if the only similar thing between it and the original is an orphan boy named Pete and an animated dragon named Elliot? And perhaps more importantly, do these changes help or hinder the movie? Is it able to stand as an interesting film in its own right? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Mickey Mouse: Two-Gun Mickey
Our final short of 1934, and the last hurrah for the classic Mickey & Minnie vs. Pete cartoons that began with the likes of The Gallopin' Gaucho all the way back in 1928. Unlike those previous shorts, in this one, Minnie has a gun. It's a fun Western romp, but like most Westerns, it's not without its negative racial stereotypes. Does this short manage to overall stay enjoyable despite that, or does it crumble under the weight of bad genre conventions? Listen to find out!
Pete's Dragon (1977)
(Spoiler Section Length - 15min 2sec)
We take a trip down memory lane today, with a movie some of our hosts vaguely remember from childhood, and a certain one of our hosts literally cried watching. It's a movie from back when colorful live-action musicals were still at least a little in vogue, and a from back when Don Bluth still worked for Disney. It's a movie about a boy and his cartoon dragon friend who is NOT an imaginary friend. It's a lot of things, but in the end... is it good?
Shorts! Happy Harmonies: Bosko's Parlor Pranks
What happens to old cartoon stars once they leave the studio that they became famous at? Mostly they become forgotten, shadows of their former selves. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit faded into obscurity once he left Disney's hands, and Warner Bros' old star Bosko didn't do much better. Over at a new studio producing cartoons for MGM, Bosko starred in this short, which rather than doing much new, mostly looks back at Bosko's glory days. Is the reminiscing fun, or a waste of time? Listen to find out!
The Princess and the Goblin
(Spoiler Section Length - 4min 19sec)
This is one of those ephemeral 'oh yeah i think i might've rented that from blockbuster once' movies, the kind that vaguely sticks in your mind but that you never actively recall until it is specifically brought up. It's a movie that released in a decade of animated excellence that does not exhibit the animated quality of its contemporaries (even excluding Disney from the equation), and that exhibits storytelling inspired by centuries-old tales, but without a modern storytelling spin. In many ways it is a movie out of time and out of place... but that isn't necessarily bad, just very different. Does it all work, or is this movie best left forgotten? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Mickey Mouse & Silly Symphonies: Playful Pluto & The Goddess of Spring
Two cartoons with some threadbare connections, featuring a playful pup and a vocal villain. One's in black and white and the other in color, and yet both are important. For what reason? And perhaps more importantly, are they actually enjoyable to watch? Listen to find out!
Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer
(Spoiler Section Length - 2min 47sec)
It's time for another 80s animated movie made for the purpose of selling a brand of toy. Yes, just like Transformers the Movie, Rainbow Brite is made to sell, well, Rainbow Brite toys! And also like Transformers, this movie involves a large cast, is mostly set in space, and has lots of fighting and monsters. But this time battles are fought with rainbows! Also there's a character named Twink and that's important to note. Is this movie as good as its toy-selling brethren, or maybe better? Hopefully not worse? Let's find out!
Shorts! Betty Boop: Poor Cinderella
Today's Betty Boop is the first Boop in color (and the last, at least by the Fleischers), and is also technically not a Betty Boop but the start of the Color Classics series. It sees Betty in a retelling of Cinderella, complete with musical numbers, pretty dresses, a prince, and a fairy godmother. This short is also another example of the sorts of color cartoons that studios other than Disney were putting out during the period where Disney had sole claim to the 3-Strip Technicolor process, and an early example of the Fleischer technique of 3D-sculpted backgrounds. With all that going on in this short... is it actually any good? Listen to find out!
The Chipmunk Adventure
Back to the 80s we go, with a movie based on a franchise that got its start in the 50s. That's right, it's Alvin and the Chipmunks (and importantly: the Chipettes), off on a hot-air balloon adventure around the world. There's diamond smugglers, bad guys with gold teeth, and baby penguins to be found on this adventure, but does this globe-trotting adventure featuring different cultures as written by white people still hold up? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Walter Lantz's Cartune Classics: Jolly Little Elves
Today we take a jaunt over to Walter Lantz and the "cartunes" he's was churning out for Universal. This is one of his earliest color shorts, and is a retelling of "The Elves and the Shoemaker." Does it look good? Does it sound good? Is it any fun to watch? Listen to find out!
The Aristocats (feat. Marie)
Which pets are blessed with the fairest forms and faces? Which pets know best all the gentle social graces? Which pets live on cream and loving pats? Naturellement! The Aristocats! This 1971 classic was on constant repeat on the VHS players of many a kid in the 90s and early 2000s, and is fondly remembered by everyone on this episode of the podcast. But it's also been quite a while since any of us have seen it. Watching it anew in 2023, do we still end up enjoying ourselves? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Silly Symphonies & Mickey Mouse: The Wise Little Hen & Orphan's Benefit
It's time: Donald Duck is here! Over the course of two cartoons, we chart the famous duck's debut and different facets of the character that are introduced in each short. What made Donald such a hit among audiences? And does whatever magic worked back then still work today? Listen to find out!
Katy and the Katerpillar Kids (aka "Katy, Kiki y Koko" or "Katy Meets the Aliens")
After over a decade of searching, an ebay purchase, and the borrowing of a VHS player, we can finally watch this obscure movie from Danika's childhood, involving woodland critters and aliens and a hawk named Gracko. This is a sequel to a film we haven't watched, and the English dub rather than original language version. Was this movie worth the effort, or did it deserve to be forgotten? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Popeye the Sailor: The Man on the Flying Trapeze
It's time for another Popeye cartoon - and one that's part of his actual series, instead of technically a Betty Boop cartoon! This one's a bit of a musical, set to the song of the same name as the short, and features a much more expressive version of Popeye, along with an Olive Oyl who sounds more like what she's known for. Do we end up enjoying it? Listen to find out!
Mother: Saigo no Shoujo Eve (The E.Y.E.S. of Mars)
Now we're getting really obscure, with a movie that one of our lovely hosts watched on Sci Fi channel late at night many years ago. She only really remembered the end, and what an end it is. The rest of the movie is certainly a trip, too. For the right reasons? The wrong reasons? The answer lies within.
Shorts! Mickey Mouse: Gulliver Mickey
Mickey's back, and bigger than ever! ...At least, in his imagination. To entertain a group of children, Mickey tells a story based on Gulliver's Travels, with a couple of embellishments on his part, too. Given our history with Gulliver's Travels and its not-so-good adaptations, how does this short film fare? Listen to find out!
A Troll in Central Park (feat. Ryan)
It's time to watch a film from Don Bluth's dark period - that series of movies stretching from post-All Dogs up until Anastasia, and encompassing four little-loved films. While our hosts do not remember the film particularly fondly, our guest has fond memories, so we've got a good range of opinions going into this one. What did we end up thinking of it, in the end? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Merrie Melodies: Honeymoon Hotel
Hello, Warner Bros, haven't checked in on you in a while. Bosko's gone now, so what have you been up to? Still mimicking Disney? Or have you figured out your own thing yet? Listen to find out!
The Sword in the Stone
It's time for Disney's take on The Once and Future King, a classic movie that left an indelible mark on many generations... but was it for the right reasons?
Shorts! Betty Boop: She Wronged Him Right
Betty is back, on this time she's on stage, with a moustache-twirling villain and a hunky boyfriend! The Betty cartoons are in general spoofs, but this one is even more on the nose about it than usual. Is that to its benefit? Listen to find out!
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio
We finally reach the end of our long Pinocchio journey, with this, the final Pinocchio movie released in 2022. Directed by a man who personally adores the original Disney movie, and has been working on this film as a passion project for over a decade, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio was the Pinocchio movie we most anticipated watching by a country mile. But was it worth the build-up? And how does it compare to the 4 other versions of this story that we watched? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Mickey Mouse: Camping Out
Mickey is back, along with Minnie and their friends Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar! This short functions as a sort of swan song for the latter two, who shortly after this would be phased out into background characters, corresponding with the rise in prominence of Goofy and the creation of Donald. Is this a worthy send-off for the two characters, or does it leave something to be desired? Listen to find out!
Disney's Pinocchio Remake
It's time for the Pinocchio we were all looking forward to the least. It's part of Disney's recent slew of remakes, and also one of at least three Pinocchio films to come out in the year 2022. Was our trepidation well-founded, or did this movie end up being a surprise gem? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Willie Whopper: Davy Jones' Locker
And now for something completely different! Well... sort of. We've seen Ub Iwerks' work before, back when he helped Mickey Mouse get his start. But Ub parted ways with Disney a few years after that, and went off to do his own thing! The most famous thing he did with his solo work was his Flip the Frog series, but today we're watching a short from the follow-up series, which he made for MGM! Come meet Willie Whopper, a child who tells tall tales. Is his tale good? Listen to find out!
Italian Pinocchio (2012)
We're back on track with direct adaptations of Carlo Collodi's work, though this version ends up sharing quite a few threads that we saw in the Russian film but not in Disney's. This film is bright and colorful and jam packed with events, but how does it compare to the other two, and how does it hold up on its own?
Shorts! Betty Boop: Morning, Noon and Night
Our third Betty Boop in a row! I may or may not have been struggling to figure out what shorts to watch! Anyway, the interesting thing with this one is the music style of the short, that's different from the straight-up jazz of most Boops. How's it work out? Listen to find out!
The Adventures of Buratino (1959) [Russian Pinocchio!]
Another week another Pinocchio! Except... is is, really? This Russian adaptation is actually an adaptation of an adaptation! What does that mean, and what does this movie hold in store? What does a frog in a speedo who's also an olympic gymnast wannabe have to do with the story of a little wooden puppet boy? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Betty Boop: The Old Man of the Mountain
It's time for more Betty Boop, and importantly, more Cab Calloway! This is the final collaboration between the Fleischer Bros and Calloway, and unlike the first two, this one's got Calloway's music throughout its entire runtime. Is this last hurrah one for the ages, or does it pale in comparison to its predecessors? Listen to find out!
Disney's Pinocchio (1940)
And now for a series of Pinocchio movies, starting with the 1940 Disney classic that influences how most Americans think of the story. Historically, this has not been a favorite film of any of this podcast's hosts, but we all did our best to watch it with open minds and hearts. Acknowledging that animation fans often consider this to be one of the greatest animated works of all time, what did we ultimately make of it? Is this one a dud, or a certified classic? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Betty Boop: Popeye the Sailor
It's time for another big cartoon star to enter the stage: Popeye the Sailor Man! But rather than debuting in his own series, ol' Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto first appear in a Betty Boop cartoon! Boop herself is indeed in the cartoon, though she's hardly the main character of it. How does this first outing of the iconic spinach-eating strongman hold up so many years later? And, perhaps related... how much do you know about old carnival games?
Wanpaku Ouji no Orochi Taiji (The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon)
We start the new year off with a Japanese film from Toei Animation! This one is about a boy named Susanoo and the quest he goes on to find his mother, which culminates in the titular battle against the Orochi! And to score the film, including that final battle, they employ Akira Ifukube, known for his work on the Godzilla franchise. Does all this add up to an engaging film, or a historical footnote? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Silly Symphonies: Three Little Pigs
We start off the new year with the most well-known Disney Silly Symphony! The song in this one was a smash hit back in the 30s and even in the 40s, and both the pigs and the Big Bad Wolf still cameo in Disney material to this day! It's a well-loved work, but is it good, and does it hold up?
The Snow Maiden
It's time for another Russian movie! This one proves to be our greatest challenge yet when it comes to understanding what's going on. Do we manage to make it through? Was our experience enjoyable? Or does our year end in disappointment? Listen to find out!
Shorts! Betty Boop: Snow-White
We've seen Disney's take on Snow-White... but what about the Fleischer Brothers? Years before Disney's original animated feature, and also before the Fleischer's own unfortunate attempt to compete with Disney, we had this, a short rendition of the tale that features Betty Boop and her friends Bimbo and Koko. Also, Cab Calloway is back with music! How does this version fare? Listen to find out!
Winnie the Pooh Seasons of Giving & A Very Merry Pooh Year
We watched two Pooh movies for Halloween, now it's time to watch two more for the winter holidays! These movies are much closer the the Halloween Heffalump movie in construction, in that both films are comprised of one or more segments from other Winnie the Pooh media. How do the segments fare, but more importantly, how do the overall films? Listen to find out!