But I'm not here to talk about cheeseburgers. I'm here to talk about cartoons. And one day in the 90's, McDonald's came up with this great idea. Oh sure, their mascots are portrayed well enough in the commercials, but what if they were in a cartoon? Kids love cartoons, and if Ronald was a cartoon star, that meant even more Happy Meals will be devoured on a daily basis! It's a win-win situation. Unfortunately, McDonald's didn't go the whole gambit and greenlight a 13 episode TV series; instead they chose to make a series of short films.
So they teamed up with Klasky-Csupo (aka the people behind Rugrats) and made a direct-to-video movie about Ronald McDonald and his hideously deformed food friends frolicking through the strange, cholesterol-filled lands of McDonaldland.
And it was a hit.
|Man, remember when you actually had to rewind your movies?|
What's really sad is that I'm not surprised people would sink this low. After all, I lived through the Beanie Baby craze and remembered when McDonald's places would have these huge lines of people getting their hands on shapeless cows or shapeless inch worms stuffed with beans.
Now, my family actually owned a copy of one of these things. My mom was lucky enough to buy the film before the popularity rush snatched them all up, and my family and I would actually sit down and watch this thing more than once, and mostly when it was October and getting close to Halloween. Because this movie was one of our "Halloween movies". Like Buttons and Rusty in Which Witch was Which, it was one of those odd VHSes that we didn't really acknowledge its existence until the right holiday came up. We'd watch it, not because we were compelled to, but because it was in season.
That being said, does this still hold up? Is there something to be redeemed in this fantasy world where a man can dress up his dog in clown makeup and get away with it, or is this movie as bad as a movie about freaking' McDonaldland characters could possibly be? Grab some McNuggets, mourn the loss of the triple cheeseburger and the Supersize combo option, take some anti-heart attack pills, and inhale this delicious portion of...
Availability: On VHS only.
The best way to start on this glorious, grease-soaked journey is to touch upon the intro that starts before this movie. Even though this was a direct-to-video movie and therefore was never going to be broadcast on any television station, the makers of this filth still saw it fitting to have an intro sequence with a catchy as hell theme tune that, like most 90's cartoon intros, is stupid but will not leave your head. I blame the fact that Klasky-Csupo got the Rugrats music writers to work on this show. Those people can write some powerful stuff.
Also, this intro (which I simply have to describe because it's so insane) happens to be in live-action, which seems like a weird choice since the main attraction is completely animated. But don't worry, they made McDonaldland and Ronald's house decently cartoony even in live-action, just in case someone was a dumbass and thought this town actually existed somewhere.
|I heard the crime rate in this town is absurdly high.|
Here's some of the lyrics for the uninitiated:
Gotta get ready to enjoy the view,
Looking kinda cool. Looking kinda new.
There are things we should be trying, me and you,
A new day's here and fun is overdue.
Yeah, wow. The fact that the singer (and later her backup singers) has so much enthusiasm over a song that's basically about nothing is something to be admired. Oh, and while this exercise is blandness is happening, Ronald McDonald is established as a lazy asshole who needs Rube Goldberg machines in order to perform the simplest of tasks. You don't need an elaborate marble-dropping, gear-turning machine in order to open some damn blinds, Ronald! His entire house is full of stuff like this. Just because he could turn something more whimsical doesn't mean he should.
|He needs to play checkers in order to brush his teeth. This is not an efficient way to live life.|
|And somewhere, this work of art is collecting dust in a warehouse in Burbank.|
Incidentally, while Ronald is brushing his teeth with his hellish dental torture device (toothbrushes should not be that large), the pictures are already flipped, but then switch back to their original sides when Ronald goes around and performs clownish black magic on his pictures. But hey, I'll let this slide. I don't watch things called "The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald" and expect strong continuity.
Also, Klasky-Csupo Ronald McDonald is just a few colors away from fighting Batman in Gotham City.
|That's the face of a man who dances with the devil in the pale moonlight.|
Background artists, maybe someone should've made a nighttime McDonaldland scene so it doesn't look like Sundae's sitting in a dark room with all the curtains closed in the middle of the day. The neighbors are asking questions.
|What is he doing to that pillow.|
|Wow, New York City sure looks different on TV! Look at those large tracts of uninhabited jungle!|
"I DID IT FOR SCIENCE!"
Okay, that, my friends, is the best comeback in the history of comebacks. It can literally be used for anything. I use this excuse all the time whenever I turn up late for work and so far no one's called the local insane asylum so it must be working.
And it's sad that I'm more interested in this than the actual movie I'm sitting through, but now I want to watch "Attack of the Dinosaurs". Forget this film. I want to see this mad scientist and his hunky scientist assistant sitting on dinosaur eggs and accidentally dooming New York City.
|It's poetry in motion...|
He then rides a fireman pole down the floor below him and spazzes his way to strange, alien technology that's way too advanced for a clown to possess. Geez, Ronald. Way to rub it in that your worldwide empire has made you the richest carny alive. I officially hate you and your smugass painted grin and I hope your kidney fails.
Also, dude. I want that freaking swivelchair that looks like a giant germ, representing all the bacteria that makes it into McDonald's food. It's really sad that instead of being repulsed by Joker's Carnival House of Horrors, I see random pieces of furniture and I'm like "Yeah, I'd totally own that". I'm ashamed in myself.
|So does Ronald buy this stuff or did he build it? Because if he built this stuff, his talent is really being wasted.|
And since someone's going to ask "Who's Tika?", she's an invention for this cartoon. She's basically the horrifying burger clown's black friend that he likes to keep around so he doesn't look racist. She never appears in any of the commercials after this and she only really exists in these direct-to-video cartoons. It's really sad when you think about it, that they introduced a minority and then never bothered to use them afterwards, only because Tiny Toon Adventures did the exact same thing.
|This is why Klasky-Csupo never made a CGI Rugrats. Because it's creepy as hell.|
Likewise, I forgot to point this out, but the room with the picture phone has a ball pit. Ball pits are one of those things that would be a lot more awesome if they weren't outside and coated with other people's bodily fluids and germs. A completely sanitized ball pit in your own home though? Sign me up!
|I think doing this to your dog qualifies as animal cruelty.|
Incidentally, Grimace really sounds and acts like Patrick in this cartoon which can mean only one thing. These two are related and Grimace is really an obese starfish that has had his points atrophy into nothing due to overeating. Hey, if I can't unsee this connection, neither should you.
|"Hey, Ronald? Just what the hell am I?"|
...also, why does Ronald know a bird personally if one of the most popular items on his menu are his McNuggets? Does Birdie ever question that logic? Does she even care that millions of her brethren are being enslaved and later slaughtered in factory farms full of unsanitary living conditions?
...I'm guessing no. She sold her soul to McD's a long, long time ago.
|That, or she's a reanimated corpse and has stopped having rational emotions years ago. |
It's hard to tell with this animation.
Anyways, before I got off-topic, I must know. How would this work? How can a ball pit conceal a slide? Wouldn't the balls just tumble down the chute? What sort of otherworldly spell has Ronald performed on this innocent looking ball pit?
|Each ball is really a soul Ronald sucked out of a victim and encapsulated in a round plastic vessel.|
...and I don't know about you, but I'd totally watch an episode of Batman where Joker takes the other inmates from Arkham Asylum on a camping trip in the middle of the woods. It'd be great. Killer Croc can bring the marshmallows, Harley can bring the hot chocolate and s'mores, and Ventriloquist can bring the hostages. Warner Brothers, make this happen.
|Hello, Satan. How are you?|
|"Please kill me."|
|"What are your orders, Almighty One? We live only to serve."|
|"I can somehow afford a warehouse sized garage and yet can only afford a car this big. |
Makes no sense, but what can you do?"
The best part of this city are clearly those roads. They're high in the air and lack guard rails. That's unbelievably dangerous, just like a Supersized Triple Cheeseburger combo.
And yes, at one point in time, that actually existed as a possible food choice. God, I miss the 90's.
|Considering the lack of cars, these road designs have already claimed the lives of countless drivers.|
Incidentally, I have a fun game I like to play in this cartoon whenever I watch it. It's called "Count the number of times Ronald's hairstyle changes". I usually end up losing count because the animators can never keep track.
|I love how all the passengers look uncomfortable. An expected reaction considering the driver.|
Remember the Far-Flung Phantom's name, by the way, because this will be important later on.
|That's a really effective seatbelt there, Tika. I sure hope Ronald doesn't have to slam on the brakes...|
|"If she keeps talking, I'm handing her over to the Burger King. He can deal with her mouth."|
|Before he got into the fast food business, Ronald used to be the fifth member of KISS.|
The only notable parts of this grossly substandard musical (although as a kid, I really didn't mind this song too much) is Sundae constantly asking if they're there yet, on account he represents the audience's inability to sit through this song, and Grimace being waaaaaay too happy that the forest is full of "lots of logs". His facial expressions still kill me every time.
And it turns out Tika carries only one walkie-talkie with her and she instantly got all weird and defensive about it too. Hmmm. That certainly isn't suspicious at all and probably has nothing to do with the plot.
|"Look, Birdie, keeping canaries as pets is not a form of slavery. I'm through with this debate."|
...wait, considering the shape of his body, does this mean that Sundae is related to the dog from Up? That's kind of sad actually.
|Dogs should not wear clown makeup.|
|Conker's Bad Fur Day.|
|Big Brother is watching but she's okay with that.|
...wait. It was Tika who came up with this camping idea. Why isn't she leading them to their campsite? Geez, just because Ronald's the corporate marketing icon of the fast food place that birthed them doesn't mean he has to be the boss of every outing.
|All of those trees were involved in some sort of bizarre car accident.|
By the way, I actually really like The Hamburglar's design in this cartoon. The way they drew Birdie is really hideous, but Hamburglar looks downright cool. His hat's cute, he actually looks like a lowlife thug, and he's wearing pretty decent clothes considering he hangs around clowns all day. His face is obscenely wide, though, possibly because humans in McDonaldland have evolved unhingeable jaws in order to consume greasy hamburgers more efficiently.
|Chuckie Finster was so devastated by Tommy's death that he turned to a life of crime.|
And, for those curious, he doesn't actually steal any hamburgers in this movie. Probably because, in a bizarre choice of logic for a place called McDonaldland, burgers aren't a natural occurring food in the middle of the woods. Go figure.
|"Robble robble robble."|
Also, the bear sounds like Krumm from Aaaah! Real Monsters. That combined with the fact that Hamburglar here is voiced by none other than Charlie Adler points to the fact that Klasky just got lazy and figured that we wouldn't notice if they just used the cast from all of their other cartoons.
|"Would you like me to eat you or merely disembowel you? I'm fine with either."|
Let me repeat that. Ronald summons a door and locks the bear in a place with no sound, no light, no air, and no entropy, forever damning the ursine to an painful, horrifying existence for which there is no escape.
...that seems like pretty harsh punishment for a wild animal defending its territory, scary clownmonster. In fact, that's really terrifying, Ronald. What other arcane rituals can you perform for the sake of ridding yourself of your enemies? Is this where the Taco Bell Dog disappeared to?
|Huh, so Ronald's part Fluppy Dog. Who would've thought.|
|"This looks like a good place to build a McDonald's. Screw nature."|
It doesn't help that half of these characters just cannot sing and therefore decide to just speak their lines instead of even trying to carry a tune. Tika especially. I think I've gone deaf in my left ear due to her voice.
|The only way this could get any more unsettling is if Sundae was a ventriloquist dummy. |
Those things freak me out.
By the way, meet the McNuggets, since they're not in any other McDonalds advertising on account of how creepy they look. For some reason, this cartoon thought the best way to advertise nuggets is to have them talk and have bird parts growing out of already golden brown hunks of oil-soaked meat. That's pretty unappetizing, I don't know about you.
|Wait a second, if McNuggets typically come in a ten-piece meal and there's only |
three of them, what happened to the other seven?
Note the tents, by the way. I have to admire whoever designed these things; they at least gave a modicum of a crap for the final product. You can easily tell who owns what tent and when I was a kid, I found that really cool. I like how Grimace gets the smallest tent (because Ronald likes to make fun of his friend's weight) while the Fry Kids get a tent as indistinct and useless as they are.
|"Boy, I love sitting by a campfire while enjoying a McDonalds shake and Big Mac! |
Now available at your local McDonalds! I'm lovin' it!"
|Man, what's this awesome house design doing in a McDonalds cartoon?|
And personally, the story he tells is not as scary as the face he makes while telling it. Are we sure this criminal is human? The way his mouth warps into horrendous shapes designed to devour his foes whole, he looks more like some sort of hideous plasticine mutant than anything normal. I guess this is what happens when the only edible substances in the world that you live in happens to be McDonalds food.
|"I'm everything you ever were afraid of!"|
I like how everyone humors Grimace and the fact that he's just plain terrible at life. He's stupid, scared of everything, and is completely and utterly nude, but by god, he's still their friend.
|"Don't worry, Grimace. I'll get you some logs. That'll make you feel better!"|
|"Zoinks, Scoob! It's the Far-Flung Phantom!"|
...what is The Hamburglar's name anyways? I'm still pretty convinced this is Chuckie, personally. I blame the art style and his hair color matched with the fact that he wears glasses. Tell me I'm wrong.
|"Please don't hurt me, Oh Lord and Master. I'll be good."|
And apparently continued exposure with clowns zaps brain cells, because the moment it rains, everyone stands around and starts complaining about how its raining instead of, oh I don't know, using their tents maybe? Those things looked pretty watertight!
|And then Birdie and Hamburglar both confessed their love for one another underneath the fresh autumn rains.|
You know, instead of using those tents they pitched. Guys, tents exist for a reason. They act as shelter from the elements. None of you should be smiling because you're all really stupid.
|"Durr hurr hurr, umbrellas!"|
Also, wait, isn't Ronald supposed to be magical? Can't he just summon some shelter on his own instead of relying on an abandoned old house that's most assuredly haunted to protect him from wind and rain? And wasn't that house like several miles away, since you saw it off to the distance after climbing a cliff? Don't tell me they ran through the woods in the middle of the night in the pouring rain in order to get to this place.
In short, this plot is flimsier than the claims that McNuggets are made from actual meat.
|Yeah, seems perfectly safe.|
Next post, we'll see whether this turns into something predictable or if they're throw something crazy at our way.
...and this cartoon probably did its job, because man can I go for a hamburger right about now. Robble robble robble.
Follow the Far-Flung Phantom to Part 2!