Tom & Jerry's Greatest Chases Vol. 4 delivers on its promise of, well, more great chases featuring the cat and mouse that inspired the ultra-violent Itchy and Scratchy from The Simpsons. It's been a long time since I've seen Tom and Jerry, and watching this DVD I was surprised to see how accurately Matt Groening and his writers made their knock-offs. Tom and Jerry are cruel, demented animals who torture, maim and nearly kill each other. But it's all for a good "family-pleasing" laugh, twisted as some of the hijinx turn out to be.
Like previous discs, Vol. 4 offers 14 episodes, or 98 minutes, of cat tail-chopping mayhem. Seriously, several times almost every episode Tom's tail gets punished severely. Highlights include:
The Mouse Comes to Dinner - Tom tries to enslave Jerry to entertain a girl cat for dinner. One gag involves Jerry getting Tom to take a bite out of his own tail and I wince, reminded of Ray Liotta from Hannibal. Yeesh. Jerry uses a broken bottle as a weapon and I can't believe what I'm seeing.
Springtime for Thomas - Jerry can't get Tom's attention because he's head-over-heels for another lady cat. Jerry realizes he needs Tom in some masochistic manner and tries to ruin the romance. Tom drinks a whole swimming pool at one point. Watching this I realize the anticipation of violence is even better than violence actually happening -- the wing-up of a guitar swing, or the sight of a needle.
Little Quacker - Tom forces a baby duck into the world when he thinks he craked open an egg for breakfast -- an egg he stole from a mother duck. What a bastard. The baby duck's Donald Duck dialect makes him incomprehensible, but he manages to befriend Jerry and they torment Tom together. The mother duck, complete with ample plumage, shows up to settle things once and for all.
Cruise Cat - Tom and Jerry kill each other on a cruise ship. In the first half it's Jerry who gets a lot of the pain, surprisingly. In the short's highlight, the two find themselves in a movie theater and watch themselves in a cartoon...in a cartoon. Meta-Tom and Meta-Jerry.
Missing Mouse - In what has got to be the most ridiculous, out-there premise for a cartoon short, Tom listens to the radio which interrupts with a news broadcast of an escaped, experimental white-colored mouse that can explode and destroy the entire city. Yeah. And what do you know, coincendetally Jerry suddenly turns white. In a twist, Tom has to protect Jerry, who willingly puts himself in danger. The shenanigans lead up to a weird ending.
Oh my god, the killing of course. This is classic cartoon violence at its best, and a lot of it gets really creative. At one point, Jerry fries and then freezes Tom. Morbid. I also nostalgia'd hard when I realized I had seen many of these before. It's nice older cartoons can find a home on disc.
Iffy animation looks obvious in spots, some characters (the baby duck, Tom's hooligan cat pals) and situations can get annoying. There are no extras to speak of, which disappoints. Is there really no supplementary material for a cartoon series so old and revered? Oh, and this disc is meant to be watched in short bursts. Long bouts of Tom and Jerry gets awfully tiresome.
That mother duck is awwwwwfully shapely for a duck.
And that's that. If you want more Tom and Jerry there's no reason to not at least rent this. If you can take or leave Tom and Jerry like me, then, well, you've probably made up your mind before reading this. Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases Vol. 4 gets 3 out of 5 TOV stars from me.