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Animaniacs (V1)
DVD disk
Aug 9, 2006 By: Scott Weinberg
Animaniacs (V1) order
Director:
various

Actors:
Rob Paulsen
Tress MacNeille
Jess Harnell

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A new generation of certifiably insane cartoon characters has invaded the Warner Bros. studio. Typically outrageous, irreverent, and silly events follow.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Provided you'e a grown-up child who can find a lot of value in animated fare, ANIMANIACS is absolutely a worthwhile series. No, I don't believe it comes close to approaching the old-school brilliance of the original Looney Tunes shorts, but it seems pretty darn obvious that the ANI-makers hold the original Tunes in very high regard. The cartoons are colorful and joyously silly, but if you're a grown-up who's paying attention, you'll notice that ANIMANIACS is jam-packed with pop-culture references and movie in-jokes. Like the best animated fare, the series works on a variety of levels.

The main characters are Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, three young and free-spirited lunatic siblings who are supposed to be trapped inside the WB water tower, but of course they manage to escape every episode and wreak all sorts of havoc. The very best moments in the series usually focus on the crazy "Warner Kids," but just like the old-style WB cartoons, ANIMANIACS has a large and eclectic ensemble of supporting characters. Pinky and the Brain proved popular enough to earn their very own series, but my favorite is probably Slappy the Squirrel, a self-referential veteran 'toon star who often doles out punchlines that only the animation aficionados will understand.

The rest of the other characters are a mixed bag. The Pesci-inspired "Goodfeathers" (mafia pigeons) are a one-joke gag that's never all that funny; the Warners have an amusing nemesis in the frazzled Dr. Scratchnsniff; plus there's a bunch of crazy hippos, chickens, and over-protective dogs. Not all of the characters' segments fly, but the bits that do work, well, they're pretty darn funny.

Between this and TINY TOONS, uber-producer Steven Spielberg proved that his magic touch could be extended to the world of after-school TV programming, and because ANIMANIACS has Spielberg's name on it, the viewer knows s/he's getting something of quality. So while I'll still stick with my classic Looney Tunes shorts, I've no problem recommending ANIMANIACS V1 to the animation enthusiasts out there. It's silly, it's slick, and it shows off some real (if irreverent) respect for the "olden days" cartoons. Good stuff. Each 22-minute episode is broken down into 2 or 3 shorts, with a bunch of interconnected silliness (sometimes) tying them together.

THE EXTRAS
On disc 3 you'll find a very entertaining 29-minute piece called Animaniacs Live! Hosted by voice-actor Maurice LaMarche, it's a series of video interviews from several of the other voice talents: Tress MacNeille (Dot), Rob Paulsen (Yakko), Jess Harnell (Wakko), Sherri Stoner (Slappy), composers Julie & Steve Bernstein, and voice director Andrea Romano.

On disc 5 you'll find a bunch of trailers. Kinda skimpy in the goodies department, but maybe WB will give us a bit more in Vol. 2.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Animation buffs will no doubt enjoy the ANIMANIACS' first season, but it's the movie geeks who'll probably get the biggest kick out of the cartoon. Since much of the action takes place in and around the WB lot, there's ample opportunity to make fun of the movie biz. Either way, it's 5 discs of certifiably insanimation. Fun stuff!
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