Ah, the golden age of educational films! After last time’s MST3K treatment of a 1950s family dinner (a film more appropriate for placement into a time capsule as the society of today has a lot more to learn about how to eat a family dinner than the society of the 1950s) Caitlin presented us with a little gem called “One Got Fat”. Naturally enough, it’s completely unrelated to obesity, exercise, and general health issues. It’s a bicycle safety film.
About a dozen children, inexplicably dressed up with tails and monkey masks, head off on their annual death ride, where twelve monkeys enter and one monkey leaves. Or so it would seem from the nonchalance expressed by the little hellians as their purported friends die one by one, each a victim of the most fatal hazards known to bicyclists, like sudden-moving cars, steamrollers, open manholes, riding on the sidewalk, and the dreaded “having your bicycle stolen because it didn’t have a license”. (Actually, before I mock that last one too much, I should remember my stolen bike that was mysteriously returned one midnight a week or two later after the thieves failed to peel off the license – they tried from all four corners – AND were unable to jimmy the U-lock holding the frame to the rear tire. Amateurs. But lucky for me, at least they felt sorry for my ass and brought it back when they couldn’t use it.) Anyway amidst all the death and mayhem, nobody seems to wonder if the reason all these kids are dying is BECAUSE THEY’RE WEARING MONKEY MASKS WHICH CUT OFF THEIR PERIPHERAL VISION. Of course, the film’s title comes from the wonderful coincidence that the one survivor was the monkey boy who was carrying all of his pals’ lunches in his basket. When they died, he simply ate them all – without even checking anybody’s last will and testament. I think there could be some legal culpability here.
Following that, Bryan presented an animated film called The Triplets of Belleville, directed by Sylvain Chomet. You may not remember Chomet as the director of the mime love story (7th Arrondissement from Paris Je T’Aime) shown with Seven not too long ago.
The Triplets of Belleville is the sad, sad story of Bruno the Dog and his imprisonment amongst a tribe of miserable Homo sapiens.
You see, once upon a time there was a lonely man-woman who had nothing but her man-grandchild and a television which played re-runs of a jazz-era singing group from across the wide sea. Their life was acutely incomplete, and to fill the void of his absent parents (running around and enjoying their lives with some new tribe, no doubt), the grandmother purchased a puppy, certainly of noble birth, on the French slave market.
The puppy was given the slave-name of Bruno, and he grew up under the care of the boy and his grandmother, who promised love but never delivered but neglect and pain. They spoke little if at all, which suited Bruno fine as he couldn’t have understood a word of it anyways. They fed Bruno little, and in one particularly galling act of cruelty, the boy ran over Bruno’s tail with a toy train, forever spurring his hatred of all vehicles which run on tracks.
The grandmother was spiteful, perhaps due to having a physical defect in the length of her legs, and she channeled her resentment into the relentless, silent badgering of her only scion. When it was discovered that his aptitude for riding a tricycle was greater than his capacity for emotion, she hounded him into becoming a world-class cyclist, transforming her chubby little boy into a thin, terrifyingly ugly man-athlete with an impossibly long nose.
The grandmother pushed her man-cub into entering bicycle races he could not possibly win, but for Bruno, who was allowed to ride atop the support van at the races, this was the lone spot of joy in an otherwise depressing existence.
At one particular race, some black-suited mobsters provided Bruno with the finest service ever, for they not only littered tacks across the road to stop the support van with a flat tire, allowing Bruno to bask in the sun to his heart’s content, but they also kidnapped his cruel and beaked captor.
And there the story should have ended happily, had the crazed grandmother not exhibited a wolf-like quality as yet unseen in her character as she chased after her lost cub. Bruno was cruelly used as a replacement for the flat tire, and once they had returned to the city the olfactorily-challenged humans forced Bruno to follow the scent of the cub, which led to a great cargo ship.
With no money and only a makeshift boat, the woman chased the cargo ship across the ocean until she and Bruno found themselves in a land where the people were even fatter and uglier than before.
Her penniless state was about to cause the loyal Bruno’s death by starvation (with still no sight of her cub) when the two were taken in by none other than the now-elderly titular Triplets.
The triplets take them in, only to taunt the starving Bruno by presenting him with a vile frog stew, the likes of which they eat mockingly in front of the hungry duo.
Soon enough, however, Bruno’s canine sense of smell becomes his downfall again, as he discovers the men who kidnapped the loveless oppressor, men who have inexplicably drugged several bicyclists and are using them in a racing simulation, upon which an audience places large and probably illegal bets.
The riders bray like race horses, they tire like race horses, and when they falter, they are shot like race horses. Still, none of them are ever turned into Alpo for poor Bruno, who has no choice but to go along with a half-cocked scheme to rescue the boy-cub. The Triplets and the grandmother sneak into the theater where the underground bicycle race is occurring and dodging bullets from every which way, break the moorings of the machine and are somehow propelled into safety by the young man, who is pithed so badly that he makes the stewed frogs appear positively pensive. Still, escape they do, and the film mercifully leaves off the final, brutal chapters which must have constituted the remainder of Bruno’s life as he has not two but five torturers to slowly harry him to dust. Alas, poor Bruno, that you never knew the joys of chasing a simple stick!