12/21/10

RVOD147 Courtesy Counts a Lot!

(1976, Educational/Short/Animation/Children, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Good! Fresh nightmare fuel. I was running kinda low.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:


Oddly animated creatures demonstrate the value of courtesy.

Summary:

Never forget!Kids queue up in a public building of some sort (school? museum? superior court?) waiting for their turn at a hand-cranked nickelodeon. The kid in front cranks away, taking his own sweet time until a larger boy becomes impatient and pulls him away from the viewer. They do not appear to have adult supervision of any kind, so no one does it anything about it. The bully puts his face to the viewer and starts a-crankin’

Roll the opening credits, accompanied by a tuneless courtesy-themed song that will be repeated many, many times. What should you do when your hot air balloon crashes into palm tree and you’re rescued by a cartoon giraffe? Thank it politely, of course. “Who forgot?” a chorus of children sing, “I did not! Courtesy counts a lot!” What should you do if you’re hunting butterflies deep in the trackless jungle, and you accidentally whack a rival lepidopterist with your net? Apologize immediately, of course. “Who forgot? I did not!” the children sing. What should you do if you’re a clown, so absorbed in your clown magazine that you ignore the terrified stampede of jungle animals going the other way, walking right into the chest-high toe of a fearsome giant? Say, “Please excuse me,” of course. The children repeat their all-too-familiar chorus. What should you do if you’re at a psychedelic concert of rose-colored anthropomorphic feline jazz musicians, and you’re really diggin’ the scene and groovin’ to the sound, baby, flailing around with your arms and legs until you accidentally punch a fellow concert-goer in the face, causing a humorous timpani sound effect? What’s that, child chorus? There’s a courteous, tension-resolving remark for this situation as well? You don’t say.

The bully looks up from the viewer, which has been occupying for nearly the entire running time of this eleven-minute short. Remembering the lessons of the child chorus in the nickelodeon, he apologizes to the patient but irritated crowd of children behind him. They forgive him instantly.

Thoughts:

I know I’ve missed a couple of the hypothetical situations in the summary above. I seem to recall something about a kid watching opera on TV while apologizing to a fly. And wasn’t there something about a fight between a cloud and the sun? And some sort of witch maybe? It made no sense at all, which is probably why it mostly fell out of my memory. But if that’s the reason, why do I remember any of this animated nonsense barrage?

I’ll give it this much though, the short gets its message across. “Who forgot? I did not! Courtesy counts a lot!” It counts so much that it absolves all guilt, averting any consequences and obviating the need to take responsibility for one’s actions. Those animated kids probably could have gotten away with bank robbery if they’d said “Please excuse me” after swiping the contents of the vault and shooting three tellers in the head. Someone probably should have mentioned that this only works for very minor infractions. You also have to be adorable and under ten.

A few favorite comments: While children turn the nickelodeon crank, Mike says, “Kids line up for archival footage of the 1889 World’s Fair.” When the title pops up during the opening credits, Kevin says, “Our court-ordered follow-up to ‘Might Makes Right.’” When a sympathetic cloud extinguishes the sun and comes down to rain on a flower at close range, Bill shouts, “Cloud urine!” The short is bizarre but at least it’s focused. A well-timed bit of riffing helps too.