“Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure” (2000) FILM REVIEW
In this straight to video Looney Tunes movie, Granny makes a wager with an eccentric colonel, betting that Tweety bird can fly around the world to collect 80 cat paw prints under 80 days (along with evidence of travel). Meanwhile, Sylvester the cat is adamant as always to catch Tweety as a snack, and so he chases after the little canary.
This film very much rushes to the point at it’s start. In the first two minutes, the movie dumps the entire set-up on us, and makes no time for audience investment or natural pacing. We don’t get to actually visit this park to see how great it is, so who cares? Yes, two children are dependent on it for their flower selling business, but these two have like 2 or 3 lines in the film.
You could argue that the film just wants to jump into it’s main story, confident that the meat of the premise is too fun to require too much substance, but the central narrative is far from creative. The film is less of a feature film experience, and more of a bunch of Looney Tunes cartoons stitched together – mediocre cartoons at best.
Most of the film is just the whole bird Vs. cat formula from the Sylvester & Tweety cartoons, but on a global scale and lasting for 70 minutes. Sylvester’s motivation to catch Tweety made sense in the shorts, because there was a bird conveniently in the same home as him; he was worth the cat’s effort. However, I don’t buy Sylvester being willing to chase Tweety around the world for a small snack; especially when we start seeing him traveling through locations widely populated by lots of bird-life.
Even when you put aside the limp reason why Sylvester is the antagonist, we are still left with a very boring cycle: Tweety arrives in a country, a predator chases after him, he outwits them, and then he stamps their paw print into his passport. It’s this same beat all the way through. Switching out the country and predator each scene doesn’t make these set pieces any less repetitive, because it’s still the same sequence again and again.
Sure, there’s also a thief that wants to steal Tweety’s passport, but he’s mainly in the background for most scenes; only HINTING that he will do something. When Tweety finally comes face to face with this villain, it’s a very very short confrontation that only happens in the last 10 minutes, and it’s not exactly worth the build up. The movie is already over-bloated with antagonists anyway.
Tweety doesn’t even have anything to really overcome as a character either. Right from the start, he seems incredibly confident about the mission, and he keeps this optimistic attitude all the way through. He does get a flying partner called Aoogah, but she’s just a bland female doppelganger of Tweety (her one character trait is that she can honk a loud noise), and her friendship with Tweety isn’t anything special or deeply emotional.
In the finale, Tweety and Aoogah get stuck in a hurricane, which causes Aoogah to be split from Tweety. Suddenly, Tweety sings about appreciating friendship more than winning? Erm, what? At no point did Tweety demonstrate that he had a bad habit of caring more about the mission than Arooga! Also, this quest isn’t exactly a shallow cause, because he’s doing it to save a children’s park! This self reflective musical number is clearly just a last minute effort to make the story deeper than it really is.
The only time that Tweety expresses doubt is in the last 10 minutes, when he assumes that he’s too late to finish the race back to London, but this pessimistic side of him fades VERY quickly – all thanks to the convenience of time zone differences. I know that this is supposed to be a joke, but such a gag becomes annoying when Tweety has never had his optimism challenged.
There are lots of Looney Tunes cameos in the film! Each one popping in as a foil, helpful friend, or commentator. Now, it can be fun to spot these characters, but it’s really not enough to make up for the paper thin storytelling. Yeah its great seeing Bugs or Daffy, but their guest appearances are mainly for blatant fan-service or Deus Ex Machina solutions. Heck, some characters just end up serving as filler! Cameos that are only extended to stretch the film out with even more long chase sequences.
The animation isn’t even enough to make up for what very little the film has. It’s not horribly animated, but the straight to video budget very much hampers the overall quality. The slapstick action is missing creativity or precision, because there’s a stale stiffness to character movement that makes everything “standard” at best. There was only one gag that made me laugh out loud, but every other joke either got nothing out of me or resulted in a quiet little chortle.
The only saving grace for this film is the voice acting. With an array of top tier voice actors in the cast, each under the expert direction of the renowned Andrea Romano. Yes, there are better Looney Tunes titles out there that feature these talents in the same roles, but when the material is THIS uninspired, such qualities stand out as remarkable achievements.
To conclude, “Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure” is a boringly average comedy adventure, that dramatically failed to make me care about it’s characters or story. It might entertain very young kids who only require moving drawings to be happily distracted, but it’s not got much to offer as a film. I actually yawned more times than a I laughed. It also fails to understand what made Looney Tunes cartoons so great, because it mistakes frantic antics for creative humour and cheesy remarks for witty dialogue.
It shares the same problem as many Tom & Jerry films, because it too struggles to stretch out a 5 minute cartoon formula into a 70 minute narrative. If I’m honest, this could have worked 10 times better as an actual short! There’s nothing about “Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure” that screams that it NEEDED to be a feature length movie, and I can imagine everything been executed at a snappier pace under 5 minutes.