Directed by Tex Avery
Distributed by
Written by Heck Allen
Country United States
IMDb profile

King-size Canary is an animated short that was released in 1947 by MGM and directed by Tex Avery. The plot focuses around a hungry alley cat and his pursuit of finding something to eat. As the story progresses the characters, which include the cat, a mouse, a dog, and a canary, grow to unimaginable proportions. Although no vastly interesting or well known characters appear in this short, it is arguably one of Tex Avery's best animations.

Distinct Techniques

Cartoon Laws of Nature: This animation demonstrates Tex Avery's unique defiance of many physical laws of nature and the expected outcomes of seemingly simple events. As with many of Avery's cartoon laws, objects only defy their physical laws long enough for a character to take advantage of them.

  • The cat tries to use two boxes to climb into a window but still cannot reach the window sill. The cat's solution is to continue stacking the two boxes on the space they took up, suspending them in midair but providing enough height for him. A moment after the cat is in the window, the boxes collapse.

Literal Meaning: The short also fools the audiences expectations by taking a very literal approach to words and metaphors.

  • When trying to think of how to enlarge the canary, the cat has a very real "brain storm." A dark storm cloud appears above his head accompanied by thunder, lightning, and a rain.
  • The use of "Jumbo Gro" plant food affects not only plants, but any character that decides to drink it.
  • The watch dog's eye projects a literal spotlight when he is surveying the perimeter of the house.

Exaggeration: Almost nothing is done on a small scale in this cartoon. If a character performs an action, he does it big. If there is an effect, the animators draw it on a ridiculously large scale.

  • The use of "Jumbo Gro" doesn't increase size by a small amount, it turns a dog into the size a house. A house-sized cat turns into one several stories tall. Eventually, the cat and mouse each take up an entire continent.
  • When the cat is chasing the mouse, the two run at an impossible fast speed. They cover deserts, mountains, canyons, and cities in a matter of moments.

Cartoon Reflexivity and Mise en abyme: As with many Tex Avery cartoons, this one references itself and allows the characters to realize they are in a cartoon. This device distances the audience from the cartoon world and allows the audience to laugh at these very artificial events. Rather than show the reality of the story, this shows the reality of the creation process of the cartoon.

  • The mouse informs the cat that he has seen the cartoon before and that the cat shouldn't eat him. He claims that he saves the cat's life before the picture is over.
  • The mouse informs the audience that the picture will have to end because the bottle of "Jumbo Gro" is empty. The mouse and cat put arms around each other's shoulders and wave good bye to the viewers.

An example of the exaggerated effects of "Jumbo Gro" on the characters.


A literal brain storm that the cat has while thinking.

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