What can I say about the news that Mike Myers will voice Pepe Le Pew in a 3D animation/live action hybrid film? These ideas are going to keep coming, and some of them may actually get made, and it’s probably a sound marketing choice in the sense that it will keep these characters’ merchandising alive. Myers probably won’t be as bad a Pepe as Dan Aykroyd is a Yogi Bear, but considering how many flatulence jokes there are in the average “family-friendly” movie (or sitcom, for that matter) it’s scary to think what they will do with a character who is supposed to be blissfully unaware that he smells bad all the time.
This does give me the opportunity to post this cartoon, which I think would be the only one that could serve as a template for a Pepe Le Pew feature. All the other Pepe cartoons have the stalker/attempted rape issue that Dave Chappelle and others have pointed out. But in this 1959 film, the girl cat is actually as interested in Pepe as he is in her. The problem is that they can’t get together because he smells so terrible that it makes her pass out (for which she’s taunted by June Foray as the narrator: “You are not going to let a little thing like breathing stand in your way?!”). It was written by the great Michael Maltese; oddly, the only cartoon that departs from the usual Pepe formula was not directed by the creator, Chuck Jones, but by one of his animators, Abe Levitow — leading many cartoon buffs to wonder if Jones would have accepted this change-of-pace script if he’d been in the director’s chair.
The article also mentions that WB is planning these projects because their cartoon characters don’t make anywhere near the money in merchandising that the Disney characters do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I will point out something I’ve pointed out elsewhere: Disney, for the most part, allows Mickey and Donald and Goofy cartoons to stay on YouTube. Some of them have been there for years. Meanwhile, Warner Brothers is constantly cracking down on YouTube uploads of Bugs, Daffy and Pepe cartoons. Do they not think Disney cartoons might get some extra merchandising value from the fact that they’re actually there, on the biggest video site in the world, where kids can see them?