1/31/08

RVOD014 Beginning Responsibility: Lunchroom Manners

(1960, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

Boys will repress all their instincts to be boys.

Rating: ***1/2


In a nutshell:


A group of schoolchildren spend their lunch period obsessing about an unruly puppet.

Summary:

'Corbett' appears to be French for 'Bungle'Just before lunchtime, some conscienceless puppeteer subjects Miss Brown’s class to a show about a hideous Punch-esque little clown named Mr. Bungle. Mr. Bungle isn’t a very good lunchroom guest, given his penchant for dirty hands, messy hair, and leaving a bloody trail of devastation in his wake. Indeed, the mere act of handling food appears to elude Mr. Bungle, as he continuously spills not just his own tray, but the trays of any and all fellow lunchroom guests in close proximity.

The show mercifully ends, but a white-haired youngster named Phil takes the lesson to heart, washing his hands, combing his buzz cut, and waiting his turn at the back of the line. He gets his lunch, obsessively comparing his actions to those of Mr. Bungle as he slides his tray along. He sits with his fellow white-haired students, and endlessly compares their actions to Mr. Bungle as well. White-haired Freddy and white-haired Alice compare favorably, but the brunette kids at the next table do not. What a bunch of Mr. Bungles!

The period ends, and all the white-headed kids return to the white-headed classroom, secure in the knowledge that they have behaved better than a shriveled homunculus with inarticulate limbs.

Thoughts:

Mr. Bungle. Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle. Mr. Bungle? Mr. Bungle! Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle…

MR. BUNGLE!!!!!

…is the reason this short is so entertaining. The way all the kids continuously compare their actions to this grotesque manikin is amusing on its own, made laugh-out-loud funny by Mike and company’s near-constant manic whispers of “Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle…” in the background. After this has gone on a while, Mike adds, “Phil tried to whistle a tune to keep Mr. Bungle out of his head,” while Bill adds that the kids’ puppet obsession is making them “[develop] unlikable personality traits.” In a “where are they now” section of comments near the end, Kevin notes, “Phil became an accountant, and was only invited to his coworkers’ parties after he found out about them by accident.” It’s not often that the old educational shorts get this demented on their own, and the Rifftrax crew knows just how to push the insanity even further.