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).
There are certainly worse Woody Woodpecker cartoons of his, 'What's Peckin' and 'Canned Dog Feud' being notable previous examples, but 'Hi-Rise Wise Guys' is another average at best and easily forgettable cartoon.
'Hi-Rise Wise Guys' does have good things. The music score is bouncy, energetic and very lushly orchestrated, not only synchronising and fitting with the action very well but enhancing it. Woody is fun to watch here and has good comic timing, he tended to be dulled down during this particular period but there is some nice energy.
Voice acting is solid. Grace Stafford continues to prove why she was the best voice actor for the character and the one that understood him the most. Jack Hammer is not the most exceptional or interesting of foils, but at least halfway amuses and provides some conflict.
On the other hand, a lot of the timing could have been sharper, though there is more energy than most Woody Woodpecker cartoons from the mid-late-60s, and the amusement is not consistent with parts lacking imagination, being too safe and obvious and at times being repetitive. Plus the story is very over-familiar. Very few surprises here, and the cartoon could have done with more variety, some of it is very repetitive.
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.
Overall, watchable but not much more than that. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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