When I saw that Movie Movie Blog Blog was hosting The 'One' of My All-Time Favorite Cartoons Blogathon I knew two things: I would participate and what cartoon I wanted to write about. Now, this is a movie blog, and there are plenty of animated movies that I love. Instead of waxing poetic about any of them, I chose a cartoon short that was made before I was born, and before the advent of the internet, had only seen on television. I've probably seen it hundreds of times, mind you, but it is certainly no movie. Today, we're going to discuss what is easily my all-time favorite episode of Tom and Jerry. That would be 1951's "Jerry's Cousin."
For the uninitiated, Tom and Jerry, one of the many cartoons made by the legendary team of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, is simply about Tom, the cat, trying to catch Jerry, the mouse. The way it's framed, Tom, the pet of the people who live in the house most of the shorts are set in, is clearly the villain. Neither of the two talk, with a few exceptions. Any dialogue is handled by other animals or the rare human being. Jerry almost always came out on top. Even on those rare occasions where he didn't, Tom still came out on bottom.
This particular episode starts in Hogan's Alley. We see a bunch of cats getting beaten up. As the camera pans right, it's revealed that the responsible party is a mouse who looks like Jerry, but dressed in a yellow and black striped sweater with a green hat. After dispatching all of the cats, he goes to his mailbox and reads a letter he's received from his cousin. This lets us know that the mighty mouse we've been watching is named Cousin Muscles. See what I did, there? Muscles packs a suitcase is off to help Jerry. When he arrives, he finds Tom terrorizing his cousin and proceeds to beat the ever-living hell out of Tom, who eventually enlists the aid of some rather shady looking cats, himself.
There are lots of old school gags that still work wonderfully. Tom gets knocked into a vase and temporarily takes on its shape. Muscles knocks Tom down with a bowling ball and Tom breaks into ten pins. My favorite of them all is Muscles blowing on his own thumb and inflating his fist which he then uses to clock Tom in the face. Like I said, I've seen this hundreds of times. Somehow, I still crack up every time.
Why do I love it so much? To be honest, I think it has something to do the fact that I'm vertically challenged. Sure, watching Jerry outwit and outrun Tom is plenty of fun. Watching the tiny Cousin Muscles just flat out beat him up was inspiring on top of being hilarious. No, I didn't go out picking fights with big guys after watching this, but in some small way, it let me know I could compete with them. My size was merely an obstacle to be hurdled, not an insurmountable obstruction.
Okay, let's forget all of the dime-store psychoanalytical stuff. It makes me laugh. Hopefully, you will too. Since it's only about five minutes long, take a look at it below.