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Animation / The Adventures Of Vasia Kurolesov

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Приключения Васи Куролесова (Prikyuchenia Vasi Kurolesova) is a 1981 Soviet animated short, produced and animated by Soyuzmultfilm. It's based on a 1977 humorous book by Yuri Koval.

It's about a young country bumpkin named Vasia, who lives with his mother on a farm somewhere in rural Russia. One day, she tasks him with buying a piglet in a nearby Bazaar. However, the first pig seller he finds turns out to be a small-time crook called Kurochkin, who cons him by selling him almost literally a pup in a poke. But Vasia is not about to stand for that embarrassment, and, using the same dog he scammed him with, sets out to track down Kurochkin and bring him to justice. As luck would have it, Vasia stumbles across something eternally more dangerous than the mere scamming of pig farmers...


The half-hour crime comedy is notable for its vast uses of snarky Russian Humour and its seamless traversal of the (generally atypical for Soviet animation) Animation Age Ghetto, utilising Scooby-Doo levels of Slapstick to entertain children, and witty writing, a mature premise and reasonably Dark Humour to delight adults. It's still a favourite classic young and old are very fond of in most post-Soviet countries.

You can see it here in its entirety, untranslated.


The short and the book its based on feature examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Kurochkin, additionally to his name (see Punny Name), has a very beak-like nose ("like a duck"), and he has a tapestry with black swans hanging above his bed.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: For most of the story, Matros is just a dog, with little to set him apart from the Real Life animals. Then at the end, he rolls his eyes as he shows Vasia the way with a snarky paw gesture.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: At one point, Inspector Boldyrev stuffs a cocked pistol into his belt.
  • Badass Normal: Vasia certainly tries to be this throughout the tale, but by the end of the story, he does indeed manage to disarm and knock out an armed Kurochkin using only a cigarette bin and a walking stick.
  • Bad Liar: Whenever Raspil tells a lie, it's usually painfully obvious to everyone.
  • Blatant Lies: Raspil advertises the glass panes he sells as "double-glazed, Viennese!" Anyone who knows what genuine Viennese glassware is, knows that he is lying through his teeth.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The bottle of iodine, from a pharmacy in Tarasovka.
    Vasia: "Tarasovka Pharmacy, iodine tincture." So what?
    Boldyrev: 'So what?' Just keep it in the back of your mind. It might come in useful later.
    • Also, the dead bee behind Matros' ear. It leads them to the MacGuffin.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. At one point, Kurochkin tries to shoot Boldyrev through a wooden door.
  • Destination Defenestration: Once it's apparent that he is about to get caught, Kurochkin throws himself out of a ground floor window.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The aptly-named Matros gladly helps Vasia and the Militsyia to sniff out his former master several times. It's implied that he has been severly mistreated by Kurochkin, so he's probably just biting back.
  • The Fettered: Vasia has, to say the least, a very romanticised way of approaching extreme danger. It seldomly ends well.
  • Freudian Slip:
    Raspil: He's got pigs like dogs... he's got pigs like you've never seen!
  • Freudian Trio: The three crooks: Kurochkin, Raspil and Baton. The scheming leader (Superego), the brute (Id) and the clueless nice guy (Ego).
  • Glorious Mother Russia: Averted for the most part. Nothing beside portraying Militsyia (Soviet police) in a good light, and even that is downplayed.
  • Gonna Need A Bigger Warrant: It all starts with selling an old smelly dog as a piglet. It ends with a gang of unscrupolous crooks robbing stores, stashing the loot, black-marketeering, then attempting homicide twice.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: It's by way of this trope that Baton decides that Vasia, whom he met in jail earlier, could make a perfect partner-in-crime, and takes him to his comrades.
  • Hello Again, Officer: Raspil and Inspector Boldyrev are "old acquaintances" from an earlier point in his investigation. In the book Boldyrev was investigating a series of burglaries that all happened to occur shortly after Raspil repaired windows in the robbed houses.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Baton. Not only does he seem so jolly and bonafide a simpleton that it's almost unbelievable he is a robber and a ruffian, he also inadvertedly helps the heroes instead of harming them.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Raspil returns home with one at one point. Typically, he remembered to buy Vodka, but not the milk.
  • MacGuffin: The crooks' loot. It's hidden in Raspil's apiaries.
  • Momma's Boy: Vasia, who still lives on his mother's farm and helps her with most of the work.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Vasia's impulsiveness and overall naivety blow Boldyrev's cover twice. But in the end, it's Vasia who manages to save the day - but not before he manages to knock himself unconscious during a fight.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Raspil and Baton. Even Inspector Boldyrev seems to know Raspil by that name only.
  • Pet the Dog / Kick the Dog: Played literally straight back-to-back by Kurochkin on Matros the dog. It's implied that Matros had already suffered Kashtanka-levels of abuse by him, and being sold as a pig was just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Police Are Useless: Zig-zagged. Sergeant Tarakanov is not a particularly capable sort, either falling for the bad guys' ploy or not doing anything at all, but oftentimes the only thing that's between Inspector Boldyrev and the crooks he's trying to catch is Vasia's own clumsiness. In the book Tarakanov is more than capable of dealing with petty criminals on the marketplace, but not with Kurochkin.
  • Porn Stache: Kurochkin has one. It later turns out to be fake. Vasia also tries to make one from his mother's fur coat, in a poor attempt to disguise himself. It only serves to get him arrested.
  • Punny Name: Most of the characters have them. Kurochkin's (possibly fake) surname derives from "chicken", Sergeant Tarakanov's from "cockroach", and Raspil and Baton (which presumably just are nicknames) mean "wood rasp" and "loaf of bread". And "kuroles" means "troublemaker", usually of the drunk brawler variety.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Vasia is a young and emotional guy who can't last two minutes without shouting accusations. Inspector Boldyrev is a professional criminalist who won't raise his voice even in a gunfight. Also, Kurochkin is the scheming and collected head of his otherwise all-red gang.
  • R-Rated Opening: The intro sequence is rather Noir-esque in tone and visuals, featuring lights being turned off, guns getting cocked and doors peppered with bullets - all accompanied by footsteps, dogs barking, policemen's whistles going off, windows bursting and suspense-building music. While most of it does happen in the course of the movie, little of it is depicted that darkly.
  • Ruritania: Not precisely an example of the trope, since it's set in Russia (a Real Life location), and Sychi and Tarasovka even are real places in Moscow Oblast (though quite a distance away from each other in Real Life), but it still matches Ruritania to a tee, taking place in what is essentialy the Soviet version of Fly Over Country.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The idealistic young Vasia and the seasoned Inspector Boldyrev respectively. For the bad guys, it's Baton and Raspil.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Even though the animation is kept in carefree claire ligne and the sky and fields brightly coloured, it still quickly becomes apparent that there is little more to the rural area than dirt roads, ruins and decaying wooden huts. Also, crime.
  • Spotting the Thread: When Vasya and Boldyrev knock at the door of a house they suspect Kurochkin of hiding in, Vasya tries passing them off as "plumbers coming to fix the plumbing". Kurochkin, who wasn't fooled to begin with (since he already knew who Vasya was), points out that the property only has a well.
  • Stealth Pun: As mentioned above, Vasia expected a pig in a poke, but instead bought a pup (or rather an elderly dog, but it's the same difference).
  • There Was a Door: There wasn't, so Vasia resolves to go head-first right through a massive brick wall, leaving an Impact Silhouette. Boldyrev, on the other hand, chooses to traverse it via a ridiculously athletic high jump.
  • Verbal Tic:
    • Baton loves to answer questions with what is essentially the Russian gangster slang version of "Ya betcha!"
    • And Boldyrev likes to sarcastically repeat the stupid questions of others before giving an answer.
  • Wunza Plot: He Is A Naive Farmboy! He Is A Big City Inspector! Together, They Fight Crime!
  • You All Meet in a Cell: How Vasia, who has been framed by a disguised Kurochkin, comes across Baton, who punched a guy for stepping on his foot.


Video Example(s):


Fake Moustache

The hero has disguised himself to expose a gang of con-men in the bazaar. However, the seasoned con-men turn the tables on him.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / OutGambitted

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