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Reviewed June 29th, 2004 by David Nusair


It would appear as though Paul McCartney has always had a thing for animation, given that one of the cartoons in this collection dates back to 1984. According to the disc’s liner notes, McCartney’s fascination with animation started in his childhood. It was only after watching cartoonist Geoff Dunbar’s film, Ubu, that McCartney came up with the idea of collaborating with the filmmaker and cranking out some shorts. This DVD collects three such shorts, starting with Tropic Island Hum.

Tropic Island Hum introduces us to Wirral, a cute little squirrel who – as the story opens – is escaping from some particularly nasty hunters. Luckily, Froggo just happens to be traveling by in his hot air balloon, and he picks up Wirral before the hunters can get him. Froggo takes Wirral to a tropical island, where many colorful and quirky characters live – including Wilhemina (Wirral’s love interest) and Chief Bison (the leader of all the animals living on this island). The story concludes with an upbeat and catchy musical number, entitled Tropic Island Hum (what a coincidence, huh?)

Next up is Tuesday, a plotless affair featuring flying frogs. Said frogs are sitting in their swamp, minding their own business, when all of a sudden they find themselves able to fly. They travel around the neighborhood, knocking on windows and watching TV, until they’re unable to fly anymore. The episode ends with some Dustin Hoffman narration and something most people never thought they’d see until pigs could fly (hint, hint).

Finally, the disc includes Rupert and the Frog Song, McCartney’s first collaboration with Dunbar. Rupert is an extremely curious young bear cub who, while exploring in the mountains around his house one day, encounters a sign warning non-frogs from entering. Rupert ignores the sign and begins wandering around, and eventually encounters a large gathering of frogs. As it turns out, the frogs are preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime show by the frog King and Queen. Rupert stays hidden behind some bushes, and catches the whole thing.

Small children will probably best appreciate this collection, as each of these cartoons have obviously been geared towards their age group. The songs are nice, but there’s not much here to hold the interest of most adults.

Audio: Each cartoon is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and it’s effective. The songs, in particular, utilize surround channels – allowing the viewer to feel as though they are right there in the middle of things.

Video: Likewise, the anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 transfer that accompanies each cartoon is surprisingly clear and crisp (especially considering Rupert and the Frog Song is 20 years old).

Extras: There are actually quite a few extras here, starting with a seven-minute interview with McCartney. Not surprisingly, he talks mostly about his passion for animation, including his love for the Disney classic Bambi. Also included are 12-minute featurettes on the making of Tropic Island Hum and Tuesday. Both are quite involving, and effectively paint a picture of what goes into creating such a short. Finally, line tests and storyboards are included for all three shorts.

Conclusion: Paul McCartney: The Music and Animation Collection should appeal to collectors of animation, while kids will no doubt get a kick out of these colorful shorts.


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