Gorilla My Dreams

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 13, 2015

Did you hear me back there, casting dissenting votes as to Bob McKimson’s cartoon qualifications? Now, here, he looks like some kind of master. (What a title!) I guess that’s industrialized production for you. Inspiration one day, run of the mill the next, and then repeat. Maybe that’s criticizing too. You have an idea of things. Or you don’t!

They always give Bugs the most anomalous, well-chosen songs to sing. He starts this particular picture adrift on the sea in a barrel—no explanation or justification—and he feels dramatically undistressed about it. Very typical, very nice. There’s an interesting section/x-ray of the barrel in question, used throughout. Bugs is reading Esquire. The gorillas on shore are also reading punny novels. The efficiently, immediately rendered gender stereotypes of the gorilla marriage are very funny, and very nicely maintained. This film definitely isn’t progressive or verisimilar. Nor is it reactionary. It’s actually kind of geological! New Comedy—which started out way back in Ancient Greece—needs types.

There’s some excellent vine swinging business—Mr. Weismuller shows up, of course, or at least a caricature. However this reference isn’t obsequious, as so often. Instead it’s part of a happy, Tex-like overabundance of jokes. Papa takes Bugs for one of the more sadistic walks in child-rearing history. Bugs, of course, is unfazed. The wrestling that the two of them subsequently engage in turns unexpectedly, pleasingly into a conga (cf. Little Red Riding Rabbit). Now Bugs is swinging effortlessly through the trees—again with that Charlie Chaplin unflappability, his infinite adaptability. There’s one superb long shot of Bugs and the gorilla swinging through the trees in silhouette. Then, impossibly, the swingers multiply until we’re seeing numbers of them, all at the same time. There’s a very nice rope-a-dope conclusion.  “I wore him out!”