18 January 2004 | RJV
You Won't Find Andy Panda in This Cartoon...
...Instead, as the title suggests, this is a showcase for his father, Andrew P. Panda. He had been in Walter Lantz's Andy Panda cartoons since the first one, LIFE BEGINS WITH ANDY PANDA (1939), but ANDY PANDA'S POP is his one solo effort. In this one, Papa Panda wants the roofing company to fix his roof but when he learns the service is expensive, he declares, "I'll fix it myself!" Naturally his repairing attempts result in slapstick chaos, further aggravated by a pelican who insists on making himself at home on the roof.
The gags for the most part are pedestrian. Director Alex Lovy executes them capably but one can't help wonder how livelier they'd be under the direction of say, Tex Avery or Bob Clampett. But he elevates the material through the vivid personality animation of Poppa Panda and the pelican. The panda is amusingly blustery as he struggles with his task, particularly when he expresses a slow burn. This characterization is aided by a humorously gruff voice that suggests a mixture of W.C. Fields and Edgar Kennedy. As for the pelican, his attitude and behavior drolly suggests an innocent who just wants to rest and doesn't comprehend why Poppa Panda wants him out of the way.
It's a pity that Walter Lantz didn't produce any more solo Poppa Panda cartoons and it's also a pity a more dynamic director like Avery didn't get the opportunity to handle them. In my opinion, Poppa Panda was a more interesting character than his son was when he went solo (at least in the solo Andy Panda cartoons I have seen). One should be happy, though, that Poppa Panda was allowed to shine on his own in this one cartoon. ANDY PANDA'S POP is by no means outstanding, but it's a pleasant film that, like other Walter Lantz cartoons of this vintage, deserved to be revived in television showings. Especially since it has a jazzy musical score by Darrel Calker. Like Carl Stalling at Warner Brothers and Scott Bradley at MGM, Calker could always enliven even the least remarkable Lantz cartoons.