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Western Animation / Cans Without Labels

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"Here's the rule: once we open this can... we have to eat whatever's in it!"
George Liquor (American) to Slab and Ernie

Cans Without Labels is a crowdfunded cartoon created by John Kricfalusi (of The Ren & Stimpy Show fame) that was in production for much of the 2010s and released in 2019.

The cartoon stars George Liquor (American) and his nephews Ernie and Slab, who had previously starred in Kricfalusi's web series The Goddamn George Liquor Program. In this outing, Ernie and Slab are having lunch and inquire as to what all the cans on the table are. George explains that they are cans without labels, which he buys cheap, and he thinks he can tell what's in them before opening them by shaking them. Things go south when the kids discover how disgusting the contents of the cans are; specifically, a can that Uncle George claimed to be beef stew actually has a human face inside of it. George insists on making them eat it anyway (despite their extreme desire not to do so), and after a fit of anger, he goes off to take a bathroom break, warning his nephews that "that face better be gone" when he gets back. The rest of the short is spent on Slab and Ernie trying to find ways to get rid of the face without eating it.

The Kickstarter project for the short was launched on July 18, 2012 and ended on August 17, exceeding its goal by having made $136,723. The estimated competition date was February 2013, but this deadline came and went. And so months pass. Then years. Cans Without Labels would come to be seen as yet another example of Kricfalusi's failure to meet his own deadlines, with both this and his failure to repay all of the backers generally discussed more than what little of the short itself was completed. Kricfalusi would later announce that the short was finally completed in August 2017, but it wouldn't be released to backers until May 2019 two years later.note 

The DVD featuring the finished short and a number of special features, including a scrapped Ren & Stimpy short that was supposed to be shown in front of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, is available from Kricfalusi's online store through his Shopify account.

Tropes Without Labels:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: A lot of the backgrounds and props are rendered in very basic CGI.
  • Art Evolution: While The Goddamn George Liquor Program had been animated in a primitive, limited Adobe Flash, this short was animated in a "paperless" traditional style in Toon Boom, which Kricfalusi has praised for having better use.
  • Berserk Button: The moment Ernie backtalks George is what really sets him down the slippery slope.
  • Body Horror: The scene where Donald Bastard tears off Slab's face. When he gets it back, it's on upside-down.
  • Call-Back: The part where Slab and Ernie "touch tips" (bump their groins into each other) is a callback to an extremely infamous short that they previously starred in, What Pee Boners Are For.
  • The Cameo: Donald Bastard (a parody character created by John K.) makes a brief appearance late in the cartoon.
  • Deus ex Machina: The main conflict of the story (Slab and Ernie having to eat a face) is solved by Donald Bastard showing up on their doorstep for LITERALLY no reason, and he just happens to eat faces. He eats the face, and then is thrown out of the house so George does not find out.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: George threatens to do this if Slab and Ernie don't eat the face.
  • Enforced Plug: At the end of the short, there is a short promotion for Shimmy Shack, a vegan food truck. Justified since it's a Kickstarter reward.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even Cigarettes draws the line at eating faces.
  • Extreme Omnivore: On the other hand, Donald Bastard relishes the idea of eating a face from a can.
  • Fan Disservice: On his way back from the bathroom, George takes off his belt to threaten his nephews with his pants sagging to his ankles in the back, giving the viewer plenty of time to stare at his bare ass as he shuffles along. After noticing the face in the can is gone, he drops his pants entirely during a surprise-take.
  • Impact Silhouette: Slab and Ernie escape at the end by running through a well, leaving silhouettes of their bodies in it.
  • Lethal Chef: While George doesn't cook the food, he's still trying to get his nephews to eat a face he found in a dime store food can.
  • Mocky Mouse: Donald Bastard is the "multiple Disney mascots in one" variety. He is mainly based on Donald Duck, but also wears Goofy's hat and Mickey Mouse's buttoned shorts.
  • Mood-Swinger: George, true to usual nature, starting off his default jovial nature, then increasingly losing it as the boys refuse to eat the face. He returns from the bathroom a babbling wreck, until he notices the face is eaten and immediately returns to calm and jovial again.
  • Overly-Long Gag: George, returning from the bathroom, slowly trudging back to the table for about a minute, making sure to make every conceivable funny face on the way. In general the short is padded with a lot of reaction-takes and goofy faces from various characters as they react to the can in the face.
  • Precision F-Strike: George angrily bellows one when his nephews don't want to eat the face in the can.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Eat! The fucking! FAAAAAACEEEE!!!!"
  • Scenery Censor: Due to taking off his belt to threaten his nephews, George spends the last minute or so of the short naked from the waist down with the table and cans blocking his genitals from view.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The second George prepares to open another can, Slab and Ernie bolt right the hell out of his house.
    • Cigarettes the Cat also makes a run for it when he realizes he's expected to eat the face.
  • The Scrooge: George is such a cheapskate, that he constantly buys unlabeled cans. And when he finds out there's a face in the can, he still insists on making his nephews eat it anyway!
  • Show, Don't Tell: A surprisingly straightforward blink-and-you'll-miss-it example happens right before George decides to go to the bathroom. While he gets more and more angry, the paws of a cat appear over his head to pull back the skin of his face, allowing his eyes to bulge out as much as possible to let him pull off a properly deranged expression (though even that is slightly ruined by bad timing due to how quickly the scene cuts away). One of the few subtle gags in the short and the only one not conveyed by or lampshaded with words, to the point it can be confusing on a first view.
    • On the other hand, the reveal of the contents the can is a pretty Egregious aversion. The scene could have cut to a Gross-Up Close-Up of the face, and it would have been a very appropriate and not gratuitous use of it, to convey how what's inside the can is so disgusting that no one sane would eat it. Instead, Ernie just spells it out for the viewer.
  • Slice of Life: There isn't much of a plot; it's just a brief vignette of George Liquor trying to get his nephews Ernie and Slab to eat repulsive food out of a can.
  • The Stinger: After the cartoon ends, the DVD version features two Kickstarter backer rewards: an advertisement for Shimmy Shack (a real-life food truck whose mascot was designed by John K.) and a short scene involving caricatures of Bruce and Karen Ryan (voiced by themselves). Both scenes are missing from the YouTube version.
  • Stock Footage: The opening title card for the cartoon is blatantly reused from the Ren and Stimpy Show episode "Man's Best Friend". As in, it's literally a scan of the original title card artwork with a bad attempt at recreating the George Liquor text.
  • Suddenly Shouting: George's bellowing of the "Eat the fucking face!" line is sudden and louder than any other line he speaks in the cartoon. It's quite disturbing.
  • Thick-Line Animation
  • Title Drop: "These here are cans without labels!"
  • Toilet Humour: When George enters the bathroom, we are treated to the lovely sounds of him taking a dump.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: George only shows brief surprise upon finding out there's a face in one of the cans. Though given his previous outings, it's safe to say he has Seen It All.
  • Vocal Evolution: George sounds a lot older here compared to his previous appearances. This may be attributed to his voice actor having been in his early 70s when he recorded his lines (and before passing away).
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: Slab and Ernie succeed in tricking George Liquor into thinking they ate the face out of the can (they actually fed it to Donald Bastard). It backfires on them when George decides to open another can to feed them with, guessing there will be a foot in it in the work-in-progress version. Slab and Ernie flee the house in terror as the cartoon ends.
  • Wild Take: George gives an extremely grisly one to his nephews when they show hesitance to eat the face in the can.