The writers and animators also seemed to be in hibernation
Chilly Willy's best cartoons were perfect examples of how a potentially one-joke character and concept could end up actually being a perfect mix of the cute and the funny with a lot of colour and good comic timing to go with it.
'Sleepy Time Bear' is a pretty weak late Chilly Willy cartoon, and one of his weakest. Some of the later Paul J.Smith-directed Chilly Willy cartoons were good, the previous cartoon being more than that, but some were also average. 'Sleepy Time Bear' is less than average and it is very difficult to believe that it came from the same person who was responsible for Chilly's debut cartoon 'Chilly Willy', which was great. Maxie and Chilly are always watchable but this is not a satisfying enough representation of them or their chemistry. Chilly actually fares well and will talked about later on in the review, though it does have to be said that he registers much more strongly when silent and am still of the opinion that the voice here really does not fit the character.
Maxie on the other hand, usually an amusing and likable character, is at his blandest and most annoying. Daws Butler's lines are not droll or humorous enough and while he usually does a good job as Maxie (though in the Chilly Willy cartoons, where he is heard in multiple roles, he shines brightest as Smedley) he sounds like he just woke up from a sleep. Have always loved Chilly and Maxie's chemistry but the material is too tired and Maxie not used particularly well for it to resonate. The hunter is a variation of Colonel Pot Shot but without the menace or comic timing, so the conflict is severely affected.
Usually in a Chilly Willy cartoon, many of the gags are fun and solidly timed (not in all cases though), some like in the two Tex Avery cartoons (the two best Chilly Willy cartoons) are very inventive in timing and hilarious), even with obviousness and a lack of variety. The gags here in 'Sleepy Time Bear' are very tired, predictable and repetitive, being re-treads of similar gags done much better, and the timing is pretty dull particularly in the first half. One never expects much from the story in a Chilly Willy cartoon, they are nearly always thin and formulaic, and 'Sleepy Time Bear' epitomises both those adjectives.
Oh and before one forgets, the animation is scrappy. Despite some nice colours it's very simplistically detailed and even more carelessly drawn.
However, there are a few good elements. Walter Greene's music is lively and rousingly, cleverly and beautifully orchestrated and fits very well. Love the opening title credits music. The ending is quite charming.
There are some, fluid and vibrant colours here and there, as well as some flat ones.
Lastly, Chilly is adorable, despite not being silent and having a voice that sounds wrong, and is also a lot of fun, with his actions speaking far louder than words. Prefer him when silent, and Grace Stafford's voice is a much better fit in the cartoons that he does speak in, but he still makes an impression. He may be a nuisance to his opponents but he wins the viewer over with his cuteness and timing, am always amazed too at how quick-thinking and brutal he is here for a character so deceptively cute.
Altogether, disappointing. 4/10 Bethany Cox
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