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  • One thing I can say about these "Willie Whopper" cartoons: they are never boring. They are as wild as Willie's imagination, filled with tons of sight gags, so many that there usually isn't much a story, just continuing craziness.

    This episode is a prime example of that and is the only I've seen so far that might have been a dream instead of Willie telling another "whopper." Whatever, it's pretty insane as our boy winds up on some goofy planet. He got there after the helium gas his dentist gave him blew him up the size of an hot-air balloon and he floated up and out of the dentist's office right through the roof of the building! That kind of gives you idea of how loony this story is going to be, and it really gets nuts as Willie winds up on a planet with bizarre characters.

    Suffice to say if you seeing one nutty cartoon-like visual joke after another for seven or eight minutes, you'll enjoy this.
  • Ub Iwerks was a very, very valuable employee in the early years of the Disney Corporation. He and Walt Disney created the first Mickey Mouse cartoons and only in recent years have the Disney folks talked much about Iwerks and his contributions. After all, the myth the Corporation has promoted is that Walt himself was THE company back in the day. However, Iwerks was hugely responsible for the success of the Mouse. Unfortunately, he also must have felt that he didn't get enough money and recognition and left Disney not long after. Then for several years he ran his own company and produced cartoons...most of which are sickeningly sweet and dull...but with excellent animation. "Stratos-Fear" is different in that it has the really nice animation but also has a story worth your time. However, I recommend you DON'T watch if you have an extreme fear of going to the dentist!

    When the story begins, Willie goes to the dentist and he's scared to death. And, based on how this weirdo looks and acts, you can't blame poor old Willie! Soon, he's strapped into the chair and given gas...and then Willie imagines he's flying into outer space. What follows is almost like an LSD trip...weird and trippy to say the least. But, most importantly, it's fun!

    Apart from the bizarro language the aliens used, I liked this one. It was highly original and had a nice punchline at the end. If Iwerks had made many more films of this quality, no doubt his company would have lasted and he wouldn't have returned to work for Disney just a few years later.
  • Ub Iwerks's Willie Whopper series of cartoons was short-lived, only lasting a year from 1933 to 1934. On the most part the Willie Whopper cartoons are not great or cartoon/animated masterpieces and it is sort of understandable as to why Willie didn't make it bigger. However they are far from terrible ones either and do amuse and charm.

    1933's 'Stratos-Fear' is one of the better-known Willie Whopper cartoons and it is also one of the best. This is coming from somebody who has only just gotten acquainted with the series as a huge animation fan. It is amusing and cute providing that one doesn't expect a masterpiece or too much.

    'Stratos-Fear' may be on the formulaic side with conflict that is somewhat predictable.

    Willie himself is slightly bland and a slightly limited character, though it is very early days still. There is not much wrong actually.

    However, it is one of the best-looking Willie Whopper cartoons, there is some nice background detail, more drawing finesse and inventive little things. The music is energetic and characterful with appealing orchestration. The cartoon goes at a lively pace, has an appealing charm and the tale is wonderfully outlandish.

    'Stratos-Fear' has a lot of very amusing, sometimes hilarious, and sweet little laughs which makes it entertaining. The ending especially. A lot of it is also pretty imaginative and almost surreal for Willie Whopper. Although slightly bland and limited, Willie avoids being annoying and he avoids being sickly sweet as well, fairly likeable. The supporting characters are a lively and at times kooky bunch.

    In conclusion, very well done and one of Willie Whopper's best. 8/10 Bethany Cox
  • llltdesq17 November 2003
    After Flip the Frog had proved to be less than what Iwerks (and more fatally, MGM) hoped for from a cartoon series, Iwerks turned to Willie Whopper and tried to make him a star. Trouble was, Willie is even duller and less fascinating than Flip! The basic premise was part of the problem: Willie is a little boy who tells lies-not just garden variety fibs, but big lies, or "whoppers", a slang term for outlandish falsehoods. Only Willie's lies aren't too entertaining for the most part. Visuals are beautiful in this one, for example, but the story is underwhelming, to put it mildly. To be honest, the main problem with the Iwerks stars is that they are often the least interesting parts of the cartoons. A serious and often fatal flaw in trying to establish a series focused on a primary recurring character.

    This short, along with the other Willie Whoppers, is now available on a Blu-Ray/DVD combo released by Thunderbean. It looks very good on Blu-Ray and the set is highly recommended.

    Worth watching for the animation. Recommended on that basis.
  • Stratos-Fear (1933)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    Willie Whopper goes to the dentist to have a tooth pulled and when he's given the gas he floats off to another world where he battles several bad guys.

    This is actually the first film from this series that I've seen to date and I honestly thought it was pretty good. It really reminded me of a Mack Sennett film in regards to the fact that there's always something happening so no matter where you are in the film there's some sort of action going on. I found the animation itself to be quite good and Whopper also comes across as a fun character. Story wise there's not too much going on here but the other world we enter is fun.
  • Another in the under-remarked and fairly good "Willy Whopper" that Ub Iwerks turned out between Disney stints. Willy goes to the dentist and, while under gas, dreams he has been lifted like a toy balloon into a rather Oz-like outer space. Lots of images reappear in Bob Clampett's and Chuck Jones' more fantastic cartoons.