Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941)

Genres - Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Children's Fantasy  |   Release Date - Dec 5, 1941 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 77 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bob Mastrangelo

More than 50 years before either Antz or A Bug's Life, the Fleischer brothers made Hoppity Goes to Town, an animated feature that imagines a sophisticated community of insects. A significant improvement over the Fleischer's first feature, Gulliver's Travels, Hoppity Goes to Town still falls short of its potential, but largely succeeds because it tosses aside the literary pretensions of its predecessor and goes for laughs. Hoppity Goes to Town covers the sort of ground that one would expect from its premise, re-creating the human world on a smaller scale, with the bugs improvising in ingenious ways. The film's low-budget is obvious at times, and the sloppy writing does not help matters. But Hoppity Goes to Town shows that the studio learned from the mistakes it made on Gulliver's Travels. The animation is much more consistent, there is more comedy and fewer songs, the characters are more interesting, and there is less of a feeling of trying to mimic Disney and more of a sense of creating an animated feature in the Fleischer mold. While not as creative as it should have been, the film stays true to its central theme: the devastating impact of human expansion on the insect world (and, by inference, on the animal kingdom and nature). To top things off, there are also two stirring sequences: the disruption of Honey and Mr. Beetle's wedding by the arrival of the construction crew, and the insects' scaling of the skyscraper, avoiding death at the hands of the oblivious construction crew all along the way. Hoppity Goes to Town illustrates that a little studio without the resources or, frankly, the extensive talent of the Disney studio, was still able to turn out a cartoon feature that succeeds on its own terms.