Hoppity Goes to Town / Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941)

“The fence is down, the humans come through — there’s only one thing that we can do!”

Hoppity Goes to Town Poster

Synopsis:
A group of bugs and insects — including a grasshopper named Hoppity, a bee named Mr. Bumble, and Mr. Bumble’s daughter Honey — find their homes threatened when humans start littering and walking through their grassy neighborhood. Meanwhile, duplicitous C. Bagley Beetle enlists the help of his two henchmen — Smack the Mosquito and Swat the Fly — in convincing Honey to be his wife.

Genres:

Review:
Mr. Hoppity Goes to Town — the second and last feature animated film made by Fleischer Studios — is primarily known today as the first animated feature based on an original story. Made 60 or so years before A Bug’s Life and Antz, Hoppity is an early attempt to show life from a bug’s perspective; my favorite scene has Hoppity taking Honey out for a night on the town, down through a pothole to a bugs’ nightclub. Unfortunately, however, while Hoppity remains an enjoyable tale for kids (the morals are clear and straightforward), it’s ultimately not a classic: Hoppity is an insipid hero, and the songs are instantly forgettable. Nonetheless, this is a film which should be seen once by all film fanatics, simply for its place in animation history.

P.S. Mr. Hoppity‘s animators were the victims of incredibly unlucky timing: just three days after the film was released, Pearl Harbor was invaded and Hoppity became a box office failure.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • One of the few early animated features to compete with Disney
    Hoppity Still
  • Some nifty “neon” animation when Hoppity is accidentally electrified and starts dancing

Must See?
Yes, simply for its historical importance; but it will ultimately be of most interest to kids.

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One Response to “Hoppity Goes to Town / Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941)”

  1. A must. Memorable animation, and it probably still holds up well for budding ffs. As well, it’s strong enough to hold the attention of adult ffs in attendance.

    YouTube seems to have a ‘channel’ dedicated to the film. And there is a compact explanation there of some of the difficulties the filmmakers faced. Sketchy but disheartening. Certainly it was terrible luck that this film premiered when it did.

    I don’t particularly find the character of Hoppity “insipid”, tho I can see how he could come off that way. To me, he comes off more like a James Stewart type. And the songs (mostly by Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser) may be rather forgettable in terms of being standouts out of context, but they seem to serve the film. (‘Katy Did, Katy Didn’t’ is quite charming.)

    I appreciate this type of animation when compared with Disney’s earlier classics. The latter may be very impressive in many ways, but they do contain a kind of extra sappiness at times – which this film seems to fight against somehow. This is – I had to remind myself – geared mostly toward kids, and some of the fantasy (esp. the ending) is pushing it in practical terms. But, overall, it’s a very engaging story (even if it’s a little disturbing to see the bugs turn on Hoppity so, each time his intent is foiled – but, likely, there’s a point there).

    It’s also interesting that an attempt was made to emphasize the villains as fools, so as (I guess) to not scare kids too much. (In fact, Swat – the fly – often comes off as adorable. Note when he takes off his glasses to clean them: his actual eyes are quite tiny but, with glasses on, his eyes are as large or larger than dinner plates.)

    Well worth a viewing. And, yes, I particularly love the nightclub sequence, too. 😉

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