Friday, April 19, 2013

The Next Best Animated Robin Hood Movie

Photo: Warner Video

 MOVIE REVIEW 

If you’ve seen the new “Tom & Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse” on store shelves, your first reaction may be to shudder. Taking the beloved story of the man who stole from the rich and gave to the poor and mashing it up with the favorite cat and mouse duo doesn’t sound like a great idea. However, the end result is a nice surprise. The direct-to-video release manages to capture the classic images of the famous cat and mouse while respecting the classic story.

While many will agree that the best animated movie of Robin Hood is Disney’s 1973 version (also featuring animals), but this is close second. The flick takes great care to honor nostalgia fans. It has a 1940’s look to it, when Tom & Jerry were at their best. It also features cameos from other early Hanna Barbera fare including Droopy, Barney Bear, Spike the dog and his puppy son and others.

Following faithfully to the original story, Robin Hood is pursued by the Sheriff of Nottingham who works for the evil Prince John, brother of King Richard who has vacated the kingdom to engage in a battle. Prince John heavily taxes the residents leaving many of them penniless. Robin and his merry men steal from the prince and give the money back to the now poor. The lovely Maid Marian, though living inside castle walls, is smitten with the “thief.” In this story, Tom serves as a spy for Prince John while Jerry is one the Robin’s merry men.

This movie is similar in tone to “Tom and Jerry & the Wizard of Oz” and “Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes,” two other original films based on literary classics. While not up to the caliber of big production movies that hit the theater, this one will not disappoint. There are plenty of the favorite cat and mouse hijinks that fans are used to but are not overdone at the expense of the base story. The story is not “dumbed down” for children and is quite suitable for the whole family. Parents won’t feel that they are watching a “kiddie film.”

Animation aficionados will appreciate the cartoon detailing and styling of the characters. From the beginning credits, this brand new film has the look of a much older one using the original art and music from the classic animated shorts of days gone by. While not a musical, the film does feature a few songs that seem somewhat out of place, and yet and are done quite well.  

Originally created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Tom and Jerry emerged during Hollywood’s golden age of animation and became one of the most popular cartoon series in existence. The shorts focus on the never-ending rivalry between Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse. The plots of each short usually center on Tom’s attempts to capture Jerry. Jerry however, is clever and quick on his feet so Tom hardly ever manages to catch him.

“Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse” is rather short, clocking in at about 60 minutes in length, but the release also includes three related Tom and Jerry shorts. These range in age from one the studio’s earliest shorts to shorts that were produced for the more recent “Tom and Jerry Tales” TV show.      

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