2 August 2008 | stefanbe
A great feature-length film version of a classic animated series.
It is in the opinion of this reviewer that the best time to be a child was in the 1990's, a period when cartoons were not heavily censored and talented and creative minds were responsible for some of the best family entertainment to hit the air-waves. The best producers of Saturday morning animation were at Warner Brothers Television, who experienced a major Golden Age with the dream-team of Steven Spielberg, Tom Ruegger and Paul Dini. Along with serious and dark series like Batman, they also revived zany, outlandish cartoons made famous by the Looney Tunes. Animaniacs was the biggest hitter with its dark adult humour and homages to the celluloid of yesteryear and today, but Tiny Toon Adventures was equally popular by re-inventing the Looney Tunes for a new generation, while still keeping that crazy cartoon violence and intelligent comedy that can hold onto any age group, no matter how old. Even when the Tiny Toons were stretched to a feature-length with How I Spent My Vacation, it did not feel like a longer episode of the television series, a curse that so often plagues other feature-length adaptations of popular animated shows.
The Tiny Toon Gang are young off-springs of the classic cartoon characters who made audiences laugh back in the 1940's and 1950's and are currently learning cartoon comedy to "earn their Toon Degree." Summer Vacation has started and each character has their own idea of what to do. Buster Bunny (Charles Adler) and Babs Bunny (Tress MacNeille) start a water gun fight which ultimately leads to Acme Acres getting flooded and them both sailing down the Mississippi. Plucky Duck (Joe Alaskey) joins Hamton Pig (Don Messick) on a cross-country car trip to the Happiest Theme Park in the World, but Hamton's family proves to be more difficult than he imagined. Meanwhile, in other stories scattered throughout, Elmyra Duff (Cree Summer) tries to find a cat to hug and squeeze, Fifi Le Fume (Kath Soucie) attempts to go out on a date with her favourite skunk star and Shirley the Loon (Gail Matthius) goes to the cinema with a loud-mouth Fowlmouth (Rob Paulen).
While the premise sounds thin for a feature-length film, the many directors and screenwriters make all the stories work well together. The best of these is Plucky's unfortunate road trip, which utilises a golden comedic opportunity very well: feeling pity for somebody, while also laughing at their predicament. Plucky's annoyed reaction to all the bad things that happen to him are a perfect blend of script and animation, all in the confines of a small car stuffed with pork. Elmyra's story definitely ranks second just to see how a little, almost innocent girl can cause fear into so many jungle animals. The aforementioned cartoon violence definitely comes to the fore-front with Buster and Babs' story, which makes us smile not only due to the hilarity of the outcomes, but also nostalgically, since Ruegger and company would probably not be allowed to show half of what they do in that segment. Practically half of that segment plays as a parody and homage to Deliverance, including a clever twist on the dueling banjos scene, featuring the unforgettable Tiny Toon Adventures theme song.
Part of the universal appeal of the Tiny Toons is that the humour proves to be very intelligent as it targets subjects with a ferocity that proves that it does not at all deserve the title of "children's fare" that people seem to slap it with. An entire segment featuring Fowlmouth's poor etiquette at the cinema pokes fun at yappers in a note-perfect way, along with an additional jab at Lucasfilm's THX logo. That scene is done so perfectly that it should be featured before every cinema showing. There are also a couple of moments that poke fun at Disney World, cinematic plot holes and even Warner's legal department. The fact that today's cartoons are bland and un-creative makes those intelligent moments even more treasuring as there probably will not be another animated series that will come close.
After watching How I Spent My Vacation for the first time in many years, I can say with all certainty that they do not make cartoons quite like they used to. With the ongoing censorship that today's family entertainment receive, one wonders whether anything like this will ever be made again. This review is not only a recommendation of a truly smart film, but also a plea for Spielberg, Ruegger and Dini to team up again and bring forth a magical creation to our minds once again. Lord knows that the children of the twenty-first century is in need for something with the intelligence of Tiny Toon Adventures. This is not a simple cash-grab, it is a wonderful film with full of spirit, madcap mayhem and hilarity.