Tuesday, March 10, 2015

MR How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Movie: How I Spent My Summer Vacation alternatively titled Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation aka the Tiny Toon Adventures home video
Directed by Barry Caldwell, Art Leonardi, Byron Vaughns, Ken Boyer, Alfred Gimeno, Kent Butterworth & Rich Arons
Release date 1992
Genre Animated Summer holiday special
Country USA

Remember Tiny Toon Adventures?

At the height of its popularity, the show was able to spin off a movie! It might just have been a little direct-to-video, but it was the Tiny Toons' first feature-length film nonetheless!

The original idea was actually for a theater release, but executive producer Steven Spielberg insisted for a direct-to-video production. Spielberg found the medium better suited for repeated viewings, taking the intended targeted audience in mind.

Like the show, the film was a co-production between Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment. Animated this time by the Japanese studio Tokyo Movie Shinsha.

The original plans began during the first season of Tiny Toon Adventures back in 1990, but the film wouldn't enter production until 1991. It was finally released on home video in March 1992, between season 2 and 3. There would be some references to the film in some of the later episodes.

The film was originally titled How I Spent My Summer Vacation but it would be shortened up to  "Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation" to fit the "Tiny Toons" mention and logo on the cover art.

How I Spent My Vacation was written by Tiny Toons regular writers Paul Dini, Nicholas Hollander, Sherri Stoner and the show creator Tom Ruegger. Eight directors took care of each segment; Rich Aarons, Ken Boyer, Kent Butterworth, Barry Caldwell, Alfred Gimeno, Arthur Leonardi, Byron Vaughns and Aoyama Hiroshi.

The story follows all of the cartoon's regular cast of characters during their summer vacation, across several storylines. The main ones following Babs and Buster ending lost in the countryside after an escalating water gun fight, and Plucky and Hampton going on a road trip to a world renowned amusement park...

It's Summer break! It's time to leave Acme Looniversity behind for the Summer vacation! The film jumps back and forth between its rotating cast of characters through the story.

Babs and Buster Bunny - no relation - start a water fight! Buster just can't let Babs take a break and enjoy the summer. The situation quickly escalates.. They flood the entire place! And end up in the southern US, meeting all sorts of creepy locals and residents... Will they end up eaten alive.. or worse!? Also, will Babs have any time to just relax for a little while?!

In Plucky Duck's tale, our favorite green duck decides to join Hamton J. Pig on a family trip to the amusement park HappyWorldLand (Trouble in Wackyland anyone?)! But this little journey quickly turns into a nightmare! Between Hamton's really special family folks, fighting the boredom, the sweat, the trip... when he's not just trying to survive some dangerous escaped serial killer (!!) that decided hitchhike... Will he get to see HappyWorldLand's famous... monorail?...

Elmyra Duff lost Furrball! She tries to replace him with the first cuddly animal she can get her hands on... Will one of the zoo animals do?

Fifi Le Fume meets the love of her life for real! Johnny Pew, a famous skunk movie star! After all these years of adoration, the real deal might turn out to be worse than expected...

Fowlmouth keeps stalking Shirley the Loon to go see a movie featuring said skunk actor, Skunknophobia!

Most of these tales (apart from the Plucky and Babs & Buster segments) tie together in one way or another at the end. And then, through an extra convenient plot hole (literally!), they all get back to Acme Acres, just in time for a whole new year of school!

Direct-to-video or not, they certainly outdid themselves and trying to keep the pacing fast, the humor always present and the quality sharp.

The animation quality and art direction certainly went up a notch for the occasion. Tokyo Movie Shinsha was always certainly one of the best studios to handle Tiny Toons segments in the show, and they did great with the film. I also like how they focused on one single animation studio for this film, to keep things consistent unlike some of the most disjointed episodes. No jarring change of art style during the film.

All storylines combined, it certainly feels a lot more packed than your regular episodes. I don't think they would have made that great standalone episodes, but all tied around the summer vacation theme, it just works here. The film runs for about 73 minutes-long.

The entire original voice cast came back to voice the character for this film, such as Charlie Adler and Tress MacNeille in the main roles, but also counting on series regular Joe Alaskey, Maurice LaMarche, Frank Welker, Rob Paulsen, Cree Summer and many more to only count a few!

The entire film is packed with fun movie references, covering a wide range of genres I'm sure most children didn't even noticed back then. From the likes of Friday the 13th to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, E.T., Tom Sawyer or even Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!

Even the whole ending credits is worth some attention for all the hidden little jokes and whatnot. Well worth a read if you can spot them all!

How I Spent My Vacation is great Tiny Toons at its finest. Making fun of the usual traditional "good" summer vacation specials and playing an emphasis on things going for the worse or boredom for a laugh. And who didn't experience any of this in one way or another (minus the over-exaggeration, of course). Such as these too long horrible car trips as a kid or rain ruining your plans for the summer.

As per "Steven Spielberg presents" tradition, the film is filled with lots of pop culture references and all sorts of celebrity cameos. You get to see the likes of Sylvester Stallone, David Letterman, Jay Leno or even Oprah Winfrey - and even an appearance by Superman himself (hilariously integrated into the plot)!

In fact, I wouldn't exactly say this movie's just for kids. I mean, Babs and Buster journey through the back of the woods takes very strange turn for the not really kid-friendly 1972 classic Deliverance!! But that Banjo jam was well worth it! I hum it to this very day! (And I know it's just the theme song of the cartoon, but I just love the fast pacing and the way they riff around it.)

And let's not forget to mention at least once the hilarious THX parody they were able to throw in there (during the "Fowlmouth at the theater" segment.. I imagine it was meant to be used before the film had it actually seen a theatrical release). "THUD. The Audience Is Now Deaf."

At the time, this  was probably the first proper animated direct-to-video film ever released (long before all those cheap 1990s Disney sequels). Which was completely unheard of by that point, if you think of all the complicated work put into the medium for this sort of distribution process (in fact, most people mistaken it for a collection of Tiny Toons episodes originally!).

Overall, "Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation" is such a great little film. Full of memorable situations and quotes. Really Recommended for any fans of the show or good animation.

Plucky story is easily the best one in the film, but all the rest is just equally good. I find maybe Elmyra's adventure to be the weakest of the bunch, but it was often the case even in the show itself in my eyes. (At least, it provides a nice easy setting for a way out for Fifi's tale.)

It's so much fun! Anyone can enjoy it, both children and adults alike - thanks to the various jokes and caricatures, loads if pop culture allusions and parodies,

Back then it quickly became one of the highest selling videos, almost showing Warner Bros should have trusted the staff and be confident enough about their product to release the film on theater. I'm sure it would have done great on the big screen. It's well done and polished enough.

This Summer special would later air on TV, cut down into the form of 4 separate Tiny Toons episodes.

The film finally received its long-awaited DVD release (the VHS having long sold out), back in 2008. Although the DVD itself is pretty bare bones, I'm just glad we're at least able to finally legally own a modern copy of the film!

I give it:
2 / 3 Felixes!

No comments:

Post a Comment