Way back in 1971 Roger Hargreaves, a London Ad man, wrote and illustrated a little book called Mr.Tickle. It was the birth of the immensely popular Mr. Men franchise which would make Hargreaves the third most selling British author in history, published in over 22 languages. Some of the older among you surely remember these. here is a screenshot.) Why am I telling you all this? Why would a person like myself, with an admittedly acerbic sort of outlook, put myself in a position to have to post an image which contained not just rainbows and butterflies and picnic blankets but kites and hot-air balloons to boot?! Read on…
Well, as it happens I have an old friend (wishing fervently to remain anonymous) who is working closely with the production team of Mr. Men: The Movie. At my behest he’s risked livelihood and limb (Thanks pal!) and smuggled me out some exclusive images which I thought you might be interested in checking out. The image at the beginning of this post was one.
Stylistically it seems they’ve decided to go after a mixed CGI / cell-animated look, with the characters remaining flat and graphic, exactly as they appeared in the books, and the environments being dimensional, with blurs and light effects, etc. Nice looking, and well done, but pretty standard fare for an animated feature.
Thematically though? ...let’s just say its a bit of a departure. The film seems to eschew the usual Mr. Men formula of having those characters in the oeuvre which embody negative traits (i.e. Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Grumble, Mr. Greedy, etc.) learn a moral lesson through their interactions with those characters which embody positive ones. In this film, at least judging by the images I’ve seen, the negative characters seem to… well… have their day in the sun so to speak.
See for yourself-
Notes: Mr. Grumble finds a strange device on his doorstep with a note attached saying simply, “Grumbling is for the weak. There is power in numbers.” Grousing and dubious Mr. Grumble eventually presses the big red button on the device. Out of the resultant noxious cloud steps a perfect clone, already muttering under his breath. Realizing the potential, and not content to simply grumble any longer, he presses the button again and again, cloning himself an angry rabble. Soon the terrifying call of “Bah!” is heard throughout the land.
Here we see them trampling bones of the fallen.
Notes: Taking advantage of the chaos caused by Mr. Grumble’s onslaughts Mr. Grumpy vows to make good on a promise he’s been making to himself for decades, and indeed, shortly there after, the heads of his enemies begin appearing on spikes as flames engulf entire blocks.
Here we see Mr. Cheerful, Little Miss Fun, and Little Miss Brilliant skewered amongst a crowd of charred and obscured others whilst Grumpy stands among them, finally triumphant.
Notes: The people of Happyland, fearful and desperate to restore some sort of order and security, begin rounding up undesirables and troublemakers. Some are thrown into prisons, others into less savory institutions. Mr. Bump (left) is taken from his home in the middle of the night and awakes to find himself in a sanatorium.
Here we see him, befuddled to find himself among lunatics like Mr. Topsy-Turvy, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Muddle, and Mr. Bounce. His complaints of “This is a mistake!” and “I don’t belong here!” do not move a disdainful Little Miss Prim.
Notes: From the deepening shadows a new horror emerges. The authorities find a mutilated body in the dawn light. Then a few weeks later another. Soon they begin appearing in piles. At each scene there is an impish face smeared in the victim’s blood. A leak in the department alerts the tabloids, “Serial Killer On the Loose” scream the headlines. They’re calling him Mr. Mischief.
Here we see victims number 4, 5, and 6, Mr. Nosey, Mr. Tickle, and Little Miss Chatterbox. And who is that moving in backround? Oh Mr. Mischief! You scamp.
Notes: Martial law, closed borders, wild fires sweeping the farmlands, contaminated food stores– strict rationing comes to Happyland. None feel its pinch on their bellies more than Mr. Greedy and Little Miss Greedy. In their ramshackle trailer, on the outskirts of town, this bother/sister/husband/wife team dig a fire-pit and haul out the cauldron. Under the cover of darkness they prepare a stew to satisfy their newest craving, human flesh.
Here we see their neighbor, Little Miss Bossy and an unidentified man in the pot.
Note: In the French Quarter, somewhere deep underground, one Monsieur Non, brilliant, mysterious, and ruthless, watches events unfold on the surface. His goons busy themselves with last minute preparations. The diagrams of his cloning machine rolled tightly in his palm, he stoically holds at bay the grin he feels tugging at his facial muscles. His plan was a thing of beauty– meticulous, subtle, devastating, and soon… soon it would reach its apex!
As you most likely surmised in less than 5 seconds it’s all lies. A put-on. I admit it. There is no movie, no anonymous friend, and the screen grabs were of course cobbled together by me, Monsieur Non, or Mr. Snide if you prefer– popper of hot-air balloons, crumpler of kites, and trampler of picnic blankets! Mwuah-ha-ha.
Why perpetrate such a flimsy fraud you ask?
Well, looking at the Mr. Men page on wikipedia it dawned on me what sad creatures these negative trait characters were. I mean think of it– they were created specifically and purposefully to be grumpy, clumsy, greedy, dissatisfied, mischievous, or what have you, and then they are obliged to spend the rest of their existence being chided and “taught lessons.” What a cruel fucking trick!
“I am your creator and I dub thee Mr. Loud because you are loud and can’t help but be loud by your nature. Loudness is the natural state the taught vocal cords I fashioned for you tend toward. Your faulty ears require loudness. Every fiber of your being yearns for loudness. That is how I have made you… Now go forth and be quiet.”
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine being surrounded on all sides by the likes of Mr. Happy, Mr. Cheerful, Little Miss Splendid, Mr. Perfect, Mr. Good, Little Miss Fun, Mr. Right… Christ! I would be Grumpy and Grumbly too. They’d have to call me Mr. Punch-You-In-The-Fucking-Mouth.
Anyhow I thought that if even just for a few moments, and even if only here in my little ramshackle trailer on the outskirts of the internet, these poor bastards could fight back against those freakishly unflawed creations who browbeat and proselytize at them daily (and by extension lift a metaphysical middle finger to the sadistic God of their universe) well… I figured it would be time well spent.
Hope you enjoyed.