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Film: Mr. Bug Goes to Town

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 Bee. Meanwhile, the villain, C. Bagley Beetle, 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, Me. Bumble, 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, whereas almost everything else during the time had been based on some pre-existing story.

Learning from the mistakes Gulliver made trying to rip off the fairy tale atmosphere of Disney's 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 Filmsnote , who renamed it "Bugville" and replaced the original title card. Also of note, Turner Classic Movies has once aired a restored print of this film, and did so again on October 21, 2012.

Harlan Ellison cites this film and his repeatedly thwarted attempts to see it as a small child as one of the defining moments of his entire life.


Tropes in the film:


Meet John DoeFilms of the 1940sPimpernel Smith
Mighty MouseThe FortiesMr. Magoo
Superman Theatrical CartoonsThe Golden Age of AnimationIn Name Only
The Mouse and His ChildAnimated FilmsMr. Peabody & Sherman

alternative title(s): Mr Bug Goes To Town; Mr Bug Goes To Town
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