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Birds Anonymous

by Shawn Stone on November 22, 2011

I Tawt I Taw a Putty Tat 3D
Directed by Matt O’Callaghan

“Sufferin’ succotash! I’m in th-th-th-three-dee!”

Sylvester the Cat doesn’t actually say that in I Tawt I Taw a Putty Tat, but it would have been cool if he had. Over the last couple of years Warner Bros. has been easing into making 3D Looney Tunes shorts, first with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, and now with Tweety and Sylvester. It’s a pretty nifty idea, especially with this quartet of characters; after all, chase humor is enduring.

The action is set to a 1951 recording by Mel Blanc—in character as Sylvester and Tweety—of the novelty song, “I Tawt I Taw a Putty Tat.” Cat chases bird, bird outwits cat, cat suffers grievously, and it all happens while “they” merrily croon the title tune.

It has the classic urban apartment-house setting of many of the duo’s early ‘50s films (which allows Sylvester to teeter on ledges and land, splat, on the street), but the breakneck pace of the gags is timed for the ADD generation. Even if they’re now created on computers rather being than hand-drawn, they still look and act like Sylvester and Tweety. Granny makes an appearance, too, again voiced by the legendary (and 90-something!) June Foray. It’s a lovely return for longtime fans, and a clever introduction for new ones.

Alas, the entire short is only three minutes long. Better to leave ‘em wanting more, however, as the penguins of Happy Feet Two prove.

I will allow that the penguins are cute, and that the CGI animation is stunning. Who wouldn’t be knocked out by hundreds of emperor penguins dancing in unison? It has the, um, “mesmerization” factor going for it, like a hundred Ruby Keelers in a Busby Berkeley musical or a thousand North Korean children doing handstands for Kim Jong-Il.

But the penguins look too real. The dead giveaway is that the most interesting characters are a couple of tiny little red krill, hilariously voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. They’re more fun because they’re less realistically animated—they have character, which is something the penguins lack.

The song medleys are a mess. The voice acting ranges from superb—Hank Azaria as a Scandinavian puffin, Richard Carter as an old sea lion—to horrible.

Look at the evidence: March of the Penguins, Happy Feet, the Madagascar penguins, Surf’s Up. . . . Dear Hollywood: Enough with the penguins!