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Also known as Hoppity Goes To Town or Bugville, Mr. Bug Goes to Town is the second--and last--feature length animated film made by Fleischer Studios, in 1941. It is the sixth American animated feature film created and the second not made by Disney.
The plot of the film is centered on Hoppity the grasshopper, who has returned to his home in New York, but discovers that his friends are in danger of losing their homes due to humans breaking down the fence that kept their homes safe from trampling feet and tossed cigars to use as a shortcut. The film is centered on this and Hoppity's romance with his childhood sweetheart, Honey. Oh, and the villain, C. Bagley Beetle, who has romantic interests in Honey himself, and hopes, with the help of his henchmen Swat the Fly and Smack the Mosquito, to force her father to give him her hand in marriage.
Being quickly made to pay for the overhead left over by the alleged underperformance of their previous feature, Mr. Bug is a very interesting experiment in feature film animation--the most notable part being that it was one of the first animated films to have an original story made for it, whearas almost everything else during the time had been based on some pre-existing story (although Max admitted that he drew inspiration for it from a similar insect-centered story that he couldn't get the film rights to).
Learning from the mistakes Gulliver made trying to rip off the fairy tale atmosphere of Snow White and winding up as a cold, inferior imitation in the process, the Fleischers decided to take a more contemporary approach to this film, with its real world New York setting providing a believable, interesting backdrop for the events of the film. While there was still a treacly love story, the characters are still fairly interesting, and some generous slapstick is thrown in here and there to lighten the feeling of the film, obviously keeping one of the positive aspects of Gulliver. The film also benefits from having a much more episodic structure than Gulliver.
Unfortunately, the film had the misfortune of being released two days before Pearl Harbor—which, combined with lack of promotion from Paramount (who had no faith in the picture) caused the film to tank at the box office. While the Fleischers were ultimately ruined by Dave Fleischer's contract violating departure to Screen Gems cartoon outlet, this film could indirectly be considered a part of the Fleischers downfall.
On a side note, Disney has recently re-released this film on dvd--in Japan. Really.
The film was also given a dvd release in North America, this one coming from Legend Films, who renamed it "Bugville" and replaced the original title card.
Tropes in the film:
- Adult Child: Swat.
- Animation Bump: The whole film is pretty lavishly animated, just a few notches below what Disney was doing, but its still a vast improvement over the generally amatuerish animation of Gulliver's Travels. The opening shots even use model sets, very similar to the ones used in their earlier work Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor.
- Astronomic Zoom: Used majestically in the opening sequence, going from a God's eye view of the Earth, the skyline of New York, all the way down to the inches high houses of the bugs.
- Big Applesauce: The film is set in New York City.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Late in the film, the recurring snail character does this to the audience.
- Butt Monkey: Bagley, when he's alone with Swat and Smack.
- By Wall That Is Holey: Used by Bagley to survive a wheelbarrow wheel.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Swat and, to a lesser extent, Smack.
- Construction Is Awesome: The entire sequence where the skyrise is being assembled.
- Construction Zone Calamity: When the lot where Bugsville is on becomes a construction site, the bugs have to scramble for safety up the skyscraper as it is being built.
- Dastardly Whiplash: C. Bagley Beetle is a staple Simon Legree--esque villain.
- The Determinator: Hoppity
- Digital Destruction: The Bugville DVD is a lazy rush job of a release, marred with nasty digital compression that would make you think that it was a bootleg that you're watching! And it's the most recent official release!
- Disney Acid Sequence: Hoppity's little electric light show.
- A brief part where Hoppity is outside a piano player's window.
- Disney School of Acting and Mime: Justified, as the film is still fairly deriative of Disney's influence.
- Four-Fingered Hands
- Hero with Bad Publicity: After his unfortunate fall from grace, Hoppity is this until near the end of the movie.
- Humans Are Bastards
- Humanlike Foot Anatomy
- Iron Buttmonkeys: Swat and Smack.
- Mouse World
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Honey.
- Punny Name: Swat the Fly and Smack the Mosquito.
- Random Events Plot: The film is very episodic.
- Rotoscoping: Used to animate the humans.
- Scenery Porn: The film features absolutely splendid background art of New York.
- Shallow Love Interest: Admittedly, Honey.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Bagley.
- ↑ but only as distributors, which may explain this version's utter lack of the usual TLC Legend puts into the releases they remaster themselves