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Western Animation / Munro

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"I'm only four!"

Munro is a 1960 animated short film directed by Gene Deitch, best known to posterity for the rather oddball Tom and Jerry cartoons he'd produce a few years later and the first film adaptation of of The Hobbit. note  It was part of the Noveltoons series from Paramountnote .

This short is an adaptation of a short story by writer/cartoonist Jules Feiffer, a story which satirizes the mindless conformity commonly found in the military. Munro is a perfectly normal four-year-old boy who one day gets a letter notifying him that he is being drafted by the United States Army. No one—not poor little Munro's parents, not the draft board, not the drill camp instructors—can comprehend the idea that the Army could make a mistake, so Munro is inducted, despite his protests.

Technically not Western Animation, as it was produced by the new animation studio that Deitch had founded in Prague, Czechoslovakia. This was one of the first cartoons to be produced overseas for American audiences, a trend that would pick up a lot of speed in years to come.


  • Adults Are Useless: All the adults at camp are too busy trying to keep the new recruits in the army to notice a small child that should clearly be taken out of it. Even their revelation comes not from investigating Munro's claim, but insulting him and realizing that the insult is more applicable than they thought.
  • Boot Camp Episode: Poor little Munro finally decides that the army brass must be right, and tries as hard as he can to be a soldier.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one in the army will believe Munro when he says that he's only four years old. It's only when he starts crying that it finally dawns on them.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Encountered multiple times:
    • When Munro tells the sergeant that he's only four, the sergeant keeps him at camp on the grounds that a child would not be in the army. Since Munro was drafted and hasn't been sent back before, he's clearly not a child.
    • Munro is eventually sent on sick call because he still "thinks" he's a child. He, along with everyone else in the room, is sent back on grounds that they're faking it because only healthy recruits who were faking would get sent there.
  • Child Soldiers: Somehow, no one can figure this out.
  • The Compliance Game: Self-inflicted by Munro. He thought his daily routine at camp was a series of games.
  • Conscription: Some sort of bureaucratic blunder leads to a little boy being drafted into the army.
  • Dramatic Irony: Once Munro is finally found out, the military sends him away with a ticker-tape parade, cheering crowds, and a speech from the president praising Munro for lasting so long in the military at his young age — all unaware that he was only in that long because of a fluke that nobody bothered to correct.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After a pretty traumatic experience, Munro goes home to a hero's welcome, and goes back to bed with his teddy bear in his arm. It's bittersweet though, as it's affected him so much that the threat of getting sent back to boot camp is all he needs to behave.
  • The End: Barked out by the drill instructor at the end of the cartoon.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The nurses administering shots don't notice tiny Munro walking underneath them, so when they move to stick the needle in, they only get each other's arms.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: Heavy rain pours when a desperate Munro tries to get the doctor in the infirmary to realize he's a little boy, and when he's trudging back to barracks after he fails.
  • Limited Animation: Increasingly the style with animation in this era. Most of the cartoon is set against blank backgrounds that change color with Munro's mood.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: Part of the problem, as the folks at the draft board say stuff like how the height requirement isn't really a big deal anymore.
  • Men Don't Cry: Munro reaches his breaking point and cries, prompting all the officials to gather around him to tell him to knock it off. To them, a soldier wouldn't cry unless he was (derogatorily) a baby, and a baby can't be in the army... at which point they finally get a good look at the kid and realize he is.
  • Narrator: Tells Munro's story in a droll tone suitable for a children's story, even though it really is a dark tale.
  • One-Word Title: Also a Protagonist Title.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • The doctor dismisses Munro on the grounds that there's nothing wrong with him, and he hasn't actually deluded himself into thinking he's four years old. Which is true, as he is actually an average four-year-old, but the doctor takes it to mean that he's faking being deluded and sends him off with a warning to not do it again.
    • When the officials finally acknowledge Munro as the kid he is, they say that it was because he kept crying, and only baby boys (in the insulting sense) cry, not soldiers.
  • Satire: A little boy gets conscripted into the military, but everyone involved is so wrapped up in red tape and unquestioning loyalty to the system that the only way they notice is having the evidence shoved into their faces.
  • Trying Not to Cry: When a new group of recruits is brought in, the captain points Munro out as a "real" soldier to separate the men from the boys. Upon hearing this, and silently going over how many times he's been not counted as a "boy" himself, Munro tries and fails to hold back his tears.
  • The Unintelligible: The drill sergeant speaks in barely-comprehensible commands, to the point where Munro isn't sure if he's speaking English. He's also the only character to have on-screen text accompanying him so the audience at least can know what he's saying.