Monday, December 16, 2013

Beatlemiscellania - Animaniacs - "A Hard Day's Warners"

As the name suggests, this short cartoon from Animaniacs is a parody of the film A Hard Day's Night. While not as chock full of references as "Meet the Beat-Alls" was, this is a still a good tribute with lots of fine touches.  Such a short was inevitable, really, not just because Animaniacs was a show that largely focused on parodying pop culture in the same way that some of the old Looney Tunes shorts did, but because Wakko Warner's voice is essentially Jess Harnell doing something of a mix of John Lennon and Ringo Starr.  It probably isn't any surprise that Wakko was always my favorite of the Warners.

This episode was made in the third season, and by that time Animaniacs was an extremely popular cartoon.  Maybe not as popular as the Beatles themselves, but strong enough to have a very loyal following both among children and adults on the internet, and so this short is as much a tongue in cheek teasing to those devout followers as it is a parody.

The short starts off just as A Hard Day's Night does, with the Warners running from a mob of fans.  The scene is presented in black and white except for their red noses, which was a common device used on the show whenever they presented the supposed shorts made in the 1930s.  They sing about how they are running from their fans to a tune very similar to the song "A Hard Day's Night."

Leaving the black and white behind them, they escape to the backstage area of a cartoon convention, where Dr. Scratchansniff gives them fan mail and tells them to behave.  None of the fan letters are for Wakko, and when he questions why, Yakko suggests that maybe it's his hat.  Ralph the Guard comes through the door carrying a large bag of fan mail, all of which is for Wakko.  This is an almost exact recreation of a scene in A Hard Day's Night, though in that case, it was Ringo and his nose that get all the fan mail.

Scratchansniff reminds them that they are the guests of honor at this convention and their fans on counting on them.  The fans bust through the door behind him, crushing him under it, and the chase begins again.  The Warners run out onto the convention floor where they pass a Tiny Toons booth, a Batman booth, and John Wilkes Booth (who apologizes over and over again) before ducking into a hall where a single female fan gasps in surprise when she sees them.

"You look just like them!" she exclaims, to which they reply that they aren't them, and this scene is a recreation of probably my favorite of A Hard Day's Night, that of the woman in the hallway with John.  After convincing her they're not themselves, they can't resist giving her a "Hello, Nurse!" before running away.  They approach a booth for The Mask and grab the three masks on display to disguise themselves to look like Elmira from Tiny Toons (who has been among the fans chasing them this entire time).  They switch to howling Tex Avery wolves and then have their eyes pop out before removing the masks, and Yakko grouchos to the camera that they did it all without the use of CGI.

They run and are ushered into the press room by Scratchansniff.  This is once again parodying the movie moment where the Beatles are interviewed by the press themselves, but quickly diverges into commentary when a guy repeatedly asks them why they don't make their "mean" and "nasty" cartoons more educational.  They drop heavy weights on him repeatedly before breaking out into a song about how their fans just want to laugh that reminds me a lot of "She Loves You" in particular. The animation behind the song parodies the multiple images of the group on the cover of A Hard Day's Night while also making a Jerry Lewis reference and poking a little fun at Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

The Warners are once again chased by fans, and in desperation eventually climb a replica of their water tower.  Yakko thinks up a solution and sends out a paper airplane that magically makes it all the way to Acme Labs and Pinky and the Brain.  The letter tells Brain that the Pope wants to see him and so the two of them head to the convention expecting to meet him.  Yakko tells the fans that they are just three silly cartoon characters and they should be focusing on more important things, like Pinky and the Brain!

And so the short ends very similar to the way it began, but this time Pinky and the Brain are singing the "Running from our Fans" song.  Also note some of the fans are wearing cosplay of the Warners, which I have to wonder whether or not was a thing people did.

This short is about half the length of the Powerpuff Girls short, but it still manages to be a really good tribute to the film.  I like that it also takes it a step further, using the analogy to both snub their critics and suggest to some of their crazier fans that they maybe need to relax a bit.  I think for some people, it may be easy to forget just how big this cartoon really was at the time since it's fallen out of the public eye now.  But as someone who currently has Christmas versions of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot out on display in my living room, this was a great mix of two of my favorite things.

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