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Revisiting the “Mrs. Doubtfire” Cartoon Directed by Chuck Jones

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Chris Columbus’ comedy Mrs. Doubtfire. In the opening of the film, Robin Williams plays a voice-over artist who is recording lines for a cartoon that has already been made. (Yes, that’s out of order for a standard cartoon production, but for entertainment’s sake, we’ll let it slide).

The cartoon was supervised by legendary Warner Bros. director Chuck Jones, and animated by a small team of A-list animators that included legends like Bill Littlejohn and Tom Ray, and younger animators like Eric Goldberg. Coincidentally, Goldberg was also animating to the voice of Robin Williams for another animated project around the same period—the Genie in Aladdin.

In the film, we see barely a minute’s worth of animation of the two main characters—Pudgy Parakeet and Grunge the Cat. But in reality, Chuck Jones and his crew animated five minutes of material. This was never publicly shown until it was included several years afterward as a bonus feature on the Mrs. Doubtfire DVD.

While the cartoon doesn’t break any new ground in terms of execution or gags, and doesn’t even have a proper ending (it ends with a repeating cycle of Pudgy enjoying a cigarette for thirty seconds), the short has its moments. Williams voices all three characters, and it’s enjoyable listening to his vocal delivery. The animation, being much more fluid than Jones’ typical output of the period, is lively and filled with the energy of his classic cartoons from the mid-1950s.

The story doesn’t end there, though. Apparently, Chuck Jones wasn’t too keen on the backgrounds, feeling that they were overly detailed. So Jones had the cartoon completely reshot with new backgrounds that reflected a more subdued graphic style. As an added bonus, here’s the alternate version:

And just for good measure, here is a two-minute pencil test: