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Western Animation / The Fearless Four

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The Fearless Four (Die Furchtlosen Vier) is a German animated film about four Funny Animals that all have one thing in common: they want to sing, but can't for whatever reason (they're supposed to be working at something else for Fred and Buster; for Gwen, her family wants to kill her and for Tortellini, it's because he's a fairly worthless husband along with the fact that he and the rest of the chickens of the farm are taken to the slaughterhouse). The film follows, in order, the easygoing bloodhound Buster, the woeful donkey Fred, the graceful Siamese cat Gwendolyn and the self-assured rooster Tortellini. Originally intending to go to Paris to seek fame, Buster and Fred, and Tortellini and Gwen later, wind up going in just the wrong direction—to Bremen. They only realize their mistake when they get lost in the forest and come upon an owl, who tells them they are, in fact, nowhere near Paris. She does however, point them in the direction of Bremen, the nearest city.

Setting up as street performers the next day, they attract the attention of a few people, and regardless of the apparent ordnance against street performers, get scouted by a Mix Max Sausages (the Bland-Name Product manufacturer that has apparently taken over Germany) manager, who refers them to the corporate head, who in turn agrees to sign them on. The Fearless Four (as they have dubbed themselves) agree to sign a contract, with only slight vocal reservations. It is perhaps worth noting that the caricature of one of the music managers is a stereotypical girly man, with a ponytail and lisp.

Originally billed as a rock and "classic" (meaning 80s-esque) music group, the Four's rock songs send Mix Max stocks soaring in several parody newspapers (the Fall Street Journal among them). As they begin to pass out of the public eye, things get steadily worse for the group, which isn't helped by their rebellious attitude. Rest of the movie condensed: prison break, discovery of evil plot to turn kitties and other cute things into sausages, apparently recapture/repentance of the Four and then finally public disclosure of the plot during a concert. Oh, and there was a classical-music-fan mouse somewhere.

The story was very loosely inspired by the folk tale of the "The Bremen Town Musicians". Not to be confused with the Soviet adaptation of the same fairy tale Town Musicians of Bremen and/or the Spanish adaptation Los Trotamúsicos.

Tropes in The Fearless Four:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: And lots of it! Interestingly, most of the antagonistic elements of the movie are CG, almost as if to mark a contrast between the hand-drawn aspects intentionally.
  • At The Cross Roads: It is in a crossroad that not only Buster and Fred meet, but also where the arrows indicating the direction to Paris and Bremen are switched by the truck that was previously carrying Fred to the sausage factory, thus driving the plot of the story.
  • All There in the Script: The names of the owl and the mouse aren´t stated directly in the movie, but the credits refer to them as "Samantha" and "Mozart", respectively. Even though they aren't refered to by species, a series of official character sheets confirms those are, indeed, their names.
  • Animal Jingoism: Buster is initially against the idea of Gwendolyn coming along simply on the grounds that she's a cat. He doesn't really push the issue, and in the final scene the two of them are implied to have fallen in love.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: As Buster grabs Tortellini by the tail to keep him from falling.
    Tortellini: Let me go, silly dog, let me go! (Guards pass by) Don't let go, don't let go!
  • Berserk Button: Don't pull Buster's tail. Just don't.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Do not get on Fred's bad side.
  • Bowdlerize: Dr. Greed is all but edited out of the English and Italian dubs, reduced to a few cameos throughout the movie as many of his scenes involved detailing such plans as having his rivals assassinated to his minions. Even worse, much of the epilogue itself is cut out due to featuring characters drinking, cutting directly to Gwen finding the secret of her late owner's portrait.
  • Butt-Monkey: Tortellini is the main target of slapstick.
  • Cats Are Mean: Beautifully averted with Gwen, who is basically the moral advisor of the group.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Fred gets strapped to a sinister device as if he were about to get dissected, but it turns out he was strapped to a hi-tech tickling machine.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Dr. Greed, of course.
  • Deal with the Devil: Considering the narrator mentions that there were some rumours associating Dr. Greed with the devil himself, the contract the four protagonists sign with Mix Max is practically this trope.
  • Disney Villain Death: The bad guys plunge to their presumed deaths when the pieces that make up the villain lair's floor fall off. And unusually it's one of the heroes (Gwendolyn) who presses the button that spells their doom. Even the snake agent 006 who started laughing nervously realising that he was at their mercy.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything? - One could make rather quick parallels between Nazi Germany and the Mix Max regime.
    • Also, there's this scene. Suffice to say it was cut out of the english dub.
  • Emperor Scientist: Dr. Greed specialises in designing industrial contraptions that enable mass-production while imposing a military dictatorship at the same time and holding the thin guise of a democratically-elected leader. One of his underlings even has a hard time deciding about whether he should call him a doctor or a general first.
  • Feather Fingers: Tortellini uses his wings to play instruments. The owl the group briefly encounters also motions with her wings in a hand-like fashion, but doesn't grab anything.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Gwendolyn and Buster.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The owl mentions that only a monster with eight eyes and fourteen legs can break the "evil spell" of Bremen. In the end, the Four stand on each other's backs to form a "monster" that scares the villains.
    • When in a hotel and before singing their first Mix Max jingle, the Four decide to keep being together under the motto "All for one and one for all" while doing a Team Hand-Stack. This is yet another hint of the aforementioned "monster". It also foreshadows that said creature will be formed by them standing on top of each other.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble
    • Tortellini: sanguine
    • Fred: choleric
    • Buster: melancholic
    • Gwen: phlegmatic (possibly supine)
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Instead of going against a gang of robbers like in the original story, the Bremen Town Musicians end up facing an Evil Corporation.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the end, Gwendolyn uses Dr. Greed's remote control to plunge him and his minions to their deaths, just like how the doctor had previously done with a manager.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Mix Max and the animals' owners fit this trope like a glove, and it's about as subtle as a supertanker. Often in situations where the humans have no valid reason to act like assholes (for example Buster's former owner lets out a particularly sinister laugh when he agrees to sign Buster off to a taxidermist when originally he just wanted the dog off his hands). However, not every human falls into the category, as when the four expose what Dr. Greed and his cronies are doing to the townspeople, they immediately turn on the bad guys.
  • Mythology Gag: There are a few regarding the original fairy tale.
    • When meeting Fred, Buster tells him that "there's always something better than death". Fred then rephrases that later in the movie. In the original story, the donkey told that to the rooster in order to convince him to join the band.
    • After escaping from prison, Gwendolyn spots a light that comes from a window of a building on which Dr. Greed explains his evil plans to his minions. This is a reference to the rooster spotting the light of a robbers' den while up a tree in the original story.
  • Obviously Evil: Played painfully straight. Dr. Greed is even associated with the devil in the narration for crying out loud!
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: They are evil, mechanical beings who sing a Villain Song every time they come to replace a donkey.
  • The Promise: Both Buster and Gwen make a promise to get the imprisoned animals out of Bremen.
  • Produce Pelting: The audience at Dr. Greed's election party throw tomatoes at him as the four animals expose his evilness with a song.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Big Bad has a pet snake. Reptiles are also not among the "good animals."
  • Road-Sign Reversal: The truck that was carrying Fred to the sausage factory gets attacked by some wasps whose leader had previously promised Fred she would help him. Because of this, and before Fred gets freed, the truck accidentally hits a signpost that pointed to the directions of Bremen and Paris and causes the two respective signs to change positions. Afterwards, Buster and Fred decide to follow the sign that seemingly leads to Paris, when in reality it does so to Bremen. Later, Gwendolyn and Tortellini end up joining them, thus following said wrong direction as well.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The unnamed Manager dressed in an orange outfit is killed by Dr. Greed immediately after the latter discovers the animals have escaped their imprisonment.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: Sort of; considering animals in this universe are sentient...
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: How each of the animals started off and got away from their respective homes, mostly out of self-preservation.
  • Ship Tease: Gwendoyln and Buster
  • Show Some Leg: In a deleted scene, Gwendolyn does this with Platini in the form of sing teasing like Jessica Rabbit to sell that she and the others are sincere in returning to the company.
  • The Song Remains the Same: In the Latin Spanish, Italian and Russian dubs.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: When Buster gets his tail pulled, he undergoes a Jekyll/Hyde transformation, becoming a berserker.
  • Team Mom: Gwendolyn. She cares a lot for the other team members (specially Fred) and comes up with their strategies to rebel against Mix Max.
  • Team Hand-Stack: See the second point of "Foreshadowing" above.
  • Tickle Torture: Fred is subject to this about halfway into the movie.
  • Toothy Bird: Tortellini.
  • You Have Failed Me: Dr. Greed gets angry at the recruiter for allowing the four animals to escape. He drops him to his doom through a floor pit.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tortellini gets chewed out by Buster, Fred, and Gwen for not being concerned for the other animals.
  • Wingding Eyes: After Platini tells the Four that they'll be "well paid" by Mix Max, Tortellini's eyes show dollar signs accompained by the classic cash register sound effect.