Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball, The

Directed by:  Ron Hughart
Storyboards by:  Vincent Waller
Animation by:  Rough Draft.
Music used in the episode.

“The Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball” showcases Ren’s “get rich quick” mentality, a trait which Stimpy doesn’t share yet agrees to help with because Ren’s his friend.  In this case, Ren wants to profit from Stimpy’s hairballs; at first furious at the house being filled with Stimpy’s upchucked refuse, Ren changes his tune when he sees a news broadcast stating that hairballs are worth more than gold.  At this, an assembly line factory is immediately created and production begins (and production in this case is Stimpy hacking up hairballs and a dumb fat guy named Bubba packaging them).

Problems soon begin to arise:  First, Stimpy runs out of hair on his arm (to which an unsympathetic Ren shouts, “Shut up and lick your other arm!”).  Next, Stimpy runs out of hair period, so Ren reluctantly lets Stimpy lick all his hair.  Even that’s not enough to keep pace with production demands (let’s face it, Ren’s not that hairy), but Stimpy gets wide-eyed when he realizes he has a huge task ahead of him by licking off Bubba’s plentiful back hair.

Even with all the new ammo, Stimpy can’t seem to spew like he used to.  After a few strained hacks, he falls belly up on the conveyor belt.  Ren desperately tries to get things moving again with a plunger, but to no avail.  Not even using Bubba to manually squeeze out the hairballs works; Stimpy just releases vital bones and organs.  Yet he’s still standing.  Go figure.  Ren announces that they’ll have to do an “exploratory”, which consists of Bubba stuffing himself in Stimpy’s mouth to have a look around inside.  Bubba discovers that Stimpy’s hairball gland is all used up.  If Stimpy can’t hack hairballs, it’s over.  Everyone looks on the verge of bawling at the news, but have an abrupt change of attitude and dance happily.  This is years before every other animated movie ended with a dance party.

My problem with this episode is that Ren’s not very likable.  His jerkass qualities really come out in full force; he’s practically a slave driver due to his greed, and only seems concerned for Stimpy’s health after it’s too late.  Bear in mind, I don’t necessarily have a problem with jerkass characters, but they have to have funny material to back them up.  But Ren’s just an unsympathetic grouch here.  And Stimpy licking himself and hacking up hairballs repeatedly isn’t inherently funny, so a good chunk of the production montage is mostly dead air aside from some good music.  Also, the episode’s conceptually pretty thin:  Stimpy licks everyone clean until he can’t muster the power to vomit.  That’s it.

This is a perfect example of an episode I liked as a kid but as an adult it just doesn’t hold up.  The animation is fine (as I’ve highlighted below), but the humor doesn’t work for the most part, and while Ren has always been grumpy, I don’t like it when he takes advantage of his best friend like that.

In each Ren & Stimpy episode, the duo are living in a new house, which helps keep things fresh.  Here’s one of their sillier ones:  A birdhouse.  I’ve heard of people shrinking as they get older, but this is ridiculous!

Wide stretch.

[What the...]

This is one of the funnier “big fingers” in the series.  The sword sound effect accompanying it is great, too.

Sinister look as Ren hears the good news about hairballs.

Stimpy’s hit by a cinder block when he merely asks what he should do next.  Nice guy, that Ren.

I like this bit:  Every time Ren stamps a hairball with approval, a dollar bill briefly appears in the background, increasing currency with each stamp.  I almost feel like they could’ve gone further with this gag (“$1 billion”).

Yeah, Stimpy doesn’t count as a hairball.

Can you tell yet that I find grumpy Ren expressions hilarious?

Much like “The Great Outdoors”, we see bashful Ren after Stimpy licks off all his hair.  He doesn’t take to nudity as well as Stimpy does, clearly.

“Uncle Ren got licked for nothing.”  Gotta love Ren’s annoyed expression at that comment.

Bubba’s hairy back is both gross and funny.  Nice touch with the back rolls.  It’s called a gym, Bubba.

Stimpy’s mouth is full of Bubba’s back hair.  Um, that may take a while to process.  It’s the equivalent of eating way too much fiber.

Stimpy struggles violently to cough up a hairball.

Poor guy, he’s spent.  Love the quivering lips.

“An “exploratory”?  What’s that??”

Such an absurd visual; in this scene, he can barely fit inside Stimpy, the next he’s walking around freely inside, much smaller.  Gotta love cartoons.

This shot is really well-done.  Bubba sighs heavily as he holds a nearly deceased Stimpy.  For some reason this shot reminds me of an old Disney movie.

But screw that; let’s dance!  Yeah, the ending makes no sense, but did you really want Stimpy to die anyway?

More Paramount DVD cuts.  There are three stages of the hairball hacking montage:  The first features “Shopping Jaunt” as its music piece, the next uses “Shopping Spree”, and the last uses “Saber Dance”; the last sequence features the said cuts.  Stimpy licks his belly clean, is looking noticeably tired from nonstop puking, and Bubba struggles to keep up with the frenzied pace (shades of I Love Lucy‘s “Job Switching”!).  We also see the obscene amount of pollution that the hairball factory is causing (but hey, it’s worth destroying the environment in the name of hairball production).  Maybe someday we’ll get the uncut version of this episode (among many others) on an improved re-release, but I’m not holding my breath.

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One thought on “Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball, The

  1. Both this and The Great Outdoors were only at the storyboard stage of production when Nick brought the hammer down on Spumco. The boards were then polished up and sent over to Rough Draft to be laid out (as opposed to those being done in-house). Thad covers this in his book.

    Interesting note: This episode first aired with Mad Dog Hoek, while The Great Outdoors first aired with Monkey See, Monkey Don’t. I have a recording from May 1, 1993 which is one of the first times both stories aired as part of the same half-hour.