Edward Everett Horton, the narrator of the bizarre bicycle safety PSA One Got Fat (1963), warns that danger lurks everywhere when the rules of the road are ignored. One by one, the bicycling monkeys learn the error of their ways. You’ll need to watch until the end to understand why the children are wearing monkey masks — and even then it’s not quite clear. But that’s beside the point. One Got Fat seems to be an exercise in taking the mundane (bicycle safety), and transforming it into a fever dream. Each cycling mishap features backhanded commentary from Horton, whose caustic sense of humor is a carryover from his role in Fractured Fairy Tales. “Farewell, Mossby Pomegranate, victim of fallen arches,” he says as the lone child without a bike takes off his shoes, smoke pouring from his insoles.
As the film concludes, we find that Orville Slump, the kid who agreed to carry everyone’s lunch bags, is the only one with any good sense. Either that, or he’s a deviant who systematically disposed of his friends so he could feast on their snacks. It makes you wonder. Is this film only about bicycle safety, or is it Cold War propaganda intended to inform America’s youth that rules are made to be followed? Maybe a little bit of both.