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The Reluctant Recruit
The Reluctant Recruit (1971)
Credited cast:
Daws Butler Daws Butler - (voice)
Grace Stafford Grace Stafford - Woody (voice)

The Reluctant Recruit (1971)
Was very fond of Woody Woodpecker and his cartoons as a child. Still get much enjoyment out of them now as a young adult, even if there are more interesting in personality cartoon characters and better overall cartoons.

That is in no way knocking Woody, because many of his cartoons are a lot of fun to watch and more and also still like him a lot as a character. This is going to be a reiteration of a lot of my reviews for the later Woody Woodpecker cartoons, but mainly because the later Paul J. Smith-directed cartoons have pretty much the same strengths and faults. Not all Smith's efforts are average or less, 'Niagara Fools' is one of the not many very good and more Woody Woodpecker cartoons of his (excellent in that cartoon's case despite the lacking animation).

1971's 'The Reluctant Recruit' is another one of the lacklustre late Woody Woodpecker cartoons (though not one of the worst), with a few exceptions such as 'Skin Folks' and especially 'Three Little Woodpeckers' Woody was well past his best at this best and 'Buster's Last Stand' does nothing to change my mind.

If there was a best asset, it would have to be the music score. It is bouncy, energetic and very lushly orchestrated, not only synchronising and fitting with the action very well but enhancing it. There are a few vibrant colours, the occasional amusing moment and the beginning sets the story up quite well.

However, Woody compared to his original manic personality is just too subdued and his material is too obvious and safe, one misses the manic energy and the risk taking. There was not much interesting in the conflict either.

A vast majority of the time, the timing could have been sharper and the humour is primarily let down by that it is derivative of better and fresher humour in other Woody Woodpecker cartoons and also the lack of wit and consistent energy. There are nowhere near enough laughs and what there were not funny or well-timed. The dull, cheesy and repetitive story loses its way after a decent start.

Certainly, the story was rarely a strong suit in even the good-and-more Woody Woodpecker cartoons but they had much more energy and variety and Woody had a far more interesting personality. That 'The Reluctant Recruit' and many other 60s onward Woody Woodpecker cartoons generally lack those things makes it far less easier to forgive.

Just as problematic is the animation quality. Time and budget constraints shows in a lot of the animation, which is very rushed looking in the drawing and detail wise it's on the simplistic and careless side like many of Woody's cartoons from this period continuing through to the 60s.

In summary, mediocre at best. 4/10 Bethany Cox