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Warner Home Video presents
Tom and Jerry: Hijinks and Shrieks (2003)

"Well, Mr. Clumsy. Every time you chase that mouse, you break something."
- The unnamed housewife who makes Tom clean up after himself

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: September 29, 2003

Stars: Tom, Jerry, Spike, Nibbles
Other Stars: Mel Blanc
Director: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, Chuck Jones

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:47m:28s
Release Date: August 19, 2003
UPC: 012569571921
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Corporate consolidation makes for strange bedfellows—Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse, proud MGM cartoon characters, come to DVD courtesy of Warner Bros., home of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, whom Tom and Jerry's animators no doubt had in mind when creating this feline and rodent pair. Seven cartoon shorts are assembled here, with the last two feeling less of a piece than the first five—more on that later.

Silent movies never died. They just got animated. The genius of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin were largely undone by the coming of sound, but their legacy lived on most strongly in the world of cartoons, and these are great examples—little people may recoil at the idea of watching something old and in black and white and without sound, but they'll happily watch these, and will get a flavor for pratfalls and silent comedy.

The template is familiar: Tom is on the prowl, and Jerry continues to outwit him. First time out of the box here, Jerry has found some sort of elaborate cape, turning himself into The Flying Cat; this adds little or no success to his predatory ventures, however. Next, in Tom's pursuit, Jerry gets covered with a bottle of white shoe polish, which allows Jerry to fob himself off as The Missing Mouse—a white mouse with a belly full of explosives has escaped from the nearby lab, a terrified radio announcer informs us, and whatever you do, don't shake him up!

Scoutmaster Jerry is charged with the care of Two Little Indians, a modestly politically incorrect story in which the three rodents use bows and arrows as the principal instruments of Jerry's torment. Spike the local bulldog takes some abuse, too, and as in so many of these little tales, things end with something getting blowed up real good, with Jerry inside. Jerry is mentor again, this time avec un petit enfant, in Touché Pussy Cat—the little protégé is on hand to learn the ways of a mouseketeer, of course. There's mayhem for Tom as usual, but this short is a lesson for the little people in the evils of panning and scanning. You can tell from the credits that this was originally made in the 2.35 aspect ratio, and it's been cropped so severely for TV that you frequently miss the jokes, can't tell what's happening, or are looking at an empty frame. Quelle dommage.

Fed up with the abuse he's been taking at home, Tom scans the classifieds, and answers an ad placed by The Flying Sorceress. Tom doesn't make for much of a witch's cat, though—he's as scared of the new boss and her out-of-control broom as he could possibly be. But that's no reason not to bring home the tools of his new trade, to get a little of his own back with Jerry—things don't go exactly as planned, however. Another title originally produced in 2.35, the cropping doesn't feel quite as severe here.

Next Jerry whips up something wonderful in his laboratory, which gives him supersonic speed, and leaves Tom asking, Is There a Doctor in the Mouse? Jerry's new powers allow him to terrorize Tom in novel and exciting ways, but this short is notable for another reason: unlike the previous titles on this disc, it was directed by Chuck Jones and voiced by Mel Blanc, the guys from Looney Tunes, and this one certainly feels more of a piece with other Road Runner and Bugs Bunny stories than with the other Tom and Jerry cartoons here. The same is true of the final entry, in which Jerry is The Haunted Mouse, putting a series of various hexes on Tom—it feels less like a classic Tom and Jerry story, and more like a Road Runner cartoon with a profound Darwinian species mix-up.

All in all, these are likely to make you pine for the days when animated shorts preceded films, instead of the endless trailers and commercials you'll likely see before the feature on your next trip to the multiplex.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Maybe having seen these so much on television has dulled our sense of these, but as the comments above make clear, these shorts were seriously hacked up for TV and DVD. Insult to injury: they're also full of scratches and debris, and the colors have been allowed to fade terribly, sometimes into blotchy ickiness.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Things sound reasonably fine, with the music pumped up loud; some scratchiness can be detected on the soundtrack, but overall the audio quality is far superior to the accompanying video.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, ¡Mucha Lucha! , Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Jerry's Spooky Sprint game
Extras Review: Video bios are provided for the four principal characters; Tom, Jerry, Nibbles the little bitty mouse, and Spike the Bulldog. I was too stupid to make it to victory in Jerry's Spooky Sprint, but my son was not; How to Draw Tom and Jerry (01m:40s) is less a lesson in animation and more a demonstration of someone drawing very, very fast. There's an inexplicable Languages menu, with one option: English. The whole thing is tricked out with a Halloween theme, from the witch on the case cover to a picture of Jerry popping out of a pumpkin, but the theme doesn't necessarily extend to the cartoons themselves.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

A nice brief primer on the ways of Tom and Jerry. This isn't groundbreaking stuff, but it's good for more than a couple of laughs.


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