There’s a fine line between crazy and maniacal. Woody Woodpecker takes that line and beats you to death with it. At first I was a little taken aback by Woody’s intensity in this cartoon, but I can’t help but appreciate that willingness to make Woody stand out from the crowd by pushing him further, even if he does come off like he’s a serial killer. It’s interesting to see the changes these characters go through as they are passed around over the years. I like these interim portrayals, when they’ve been refined slightly but not enough to smooth out all the rough edges.
Man, when it gets going, this one tears right into it. The escalating jump cuts and rapid-fire editing add so much to the madness. Director Shamus Culhane is the Godard of animation. At first I found the human characters to be a little soft, but in the end they make a nice contrast to Woody’s angular, manic performance, as if the entire world is sleepwalking until he comes along. That sequence when they’re fighting along the counter is just masterful, and Woody has so many rich poses in this thing.