Tubby the Tuba is a 1975 animated film produced by the New York Institute of Technology, based on the 1945 song of the same name by Paul Tripp and George Kleinsinger. This was not Tubby's debut in animation; he had appeared back in 1947 in the very final Puppetoons short of the same name. This movie however was feature-length as opposed to the shorter Puppetoon film.
Tubby the Tuba (voiced by Dick Van Dyke) is laughed at by other instruments in his orchestra for wanting to play his own song. Tubby then leaves to go find his own song, first joining the circus and then visiting a musical city before meeting a frog who teaches him a song he can perform with his orchestra.
The 1975 Tubby the Tuba adaptation was the brainchild of Alexander Schure, millionaire and founder of the New York Institute of Technology. Work began in 1974 using the school's animation department. As Schure knew little of animation, he recruited many animation veterans from the Eastern Seaboard like alumni from Fleischer Studios and Sam Singer of Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse. While the film was completed with hand drawn animation, the fledgling field of computer graphics was considered to help in production. Two consultants brought on the project, Edwin Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith, later would go on to found Pixar.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptation Expansion: As the original record was only seven minutes long, this was necessary. Part of this was remedied by combining the plot of the original with its lesser-known sequel, Tubby Joins The Circus, but also includes completely new scenes like his trip to Singing City.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Tubby by his orchestra throughout the film. Not only do they laugh at him for the thought of a tuba playing a song, but they ridicule him after his stint in the circus and on their way to the Singing City.
- Animate Inanimate Object: Tubby the titular tuba, as well as the rest of the instruments in the orchestra.
- Band Land: The Singing City. The film itself counts too with Tubby and the anthropomorphic musical instruments, albeit existing among humans.
- Best Friend: Pee-Wee the Piccolo to Tubby
- Butt Biter: A circus tiger does this to Tubby, complete with revealing of Goofy Print Underwear.
- Covered in Kisses: Downplayed. Tubby gets kissed by a teen fangirl, whose kiss leaves a lipstick mark on his mouth.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Tubby plays his own song to his orchestra and they love it so much they play it too, bringing contentment to Tubby at last.
- Fan of Underdog: Prince Cello treats Tubby with kindness in contrast to the rest of the orchestra.
- Hard Truth Aesop: You may have many failures before succeeding. While this is a good lesson, it can be depressing to see Tubby's failings and his orchestra ridiculing him.
- High-Class Glass: The frog at the very end of the film wears one of these.
- Hope Spot: Tubby does well as a circus performer but his arrogance during a risky performance ends up costing him his reputation and his job.
- Loser Protagonist: Tubby
- Non-Standard Character Design: The people that live in the Singing City are much more cartoonish than those living outside of it, Prince Cello was the only instrument with a realistic human-like face and Celeste was also the most human-looking of all the melodies.
- Random Events Plot: Tubby's trip to the circus and then the musical city was added to this film's plot, having nothing to do with the original song.