The Terrytoons are oddly interesting, mainly for anybody wanting to see (generally) older cartoons made by lesser known and lower-budget studios. They are a mixed bag in quality, with some better than others, often with outstanding music and with some mild amusement and charm and variable in animation, characterisation and content.
'By the Sea' is one of those watchable but unexceptional Terrytoons. It's certainly much better than the first misfire of the 1931 batch 'The Explorer', but all the 1931 Terrytoons pre-'The Explorer' rose above the average, a couple even were decent. It is not what one would consider a great cartoon but it is worth discovering for mainly completest sake while it's still available.
The best asset is the music, which predictably is incredible. It is so beautifully and cleverly orchestrated and arranged, is great fun to listen to and full of lively energy, doing so well with enhancing the action. The backgrounds for 1931 are remarkably detailed and there is some nice inventive visual detail later on in the cartoon, showing a studio that were aiming for ambition and succeeding in some aspects.
Pacing is neither too hectic or dull, there is a natural charm and fun amusing moments and the cat is suitably suave. The villain is the best and most memorable character, both fun and sinister and provides some thrills.
However, as is the case with a lot of the Terrytoons cartoons, the character designs are crude and simplistic. Contrary to the previous reviewer respectfully, the short length to me was too short (for Terrytoons) and made things feel choppy and rushed somewhat.
Again, as usual, the story is basic and formulaic with a couple of not so lively stretches in the early stages and a couple of gags could have gone for it a little more with the absurdity instead of being on the bland side. The mice don't have as much personality or memorability, even with the voice of Betty Boop Margie Hines on board, and not much different from similar characters.
Concluding, worth a one time watch but for me not much more than that. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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