March 2, 2006
Jacob Two-Two Meets The Hooded Fang (1978 & 1999)
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling
With the axiom "life imitates art" firmly implanted in our media-savvy consciousness, it's a treat to look back on the tragic story of The Hooded Fang (Alex Karras ( Mad Bull) in 1978, Gary Busey in 1999), the ex-wrestler-turned-children's-prison-warden in Mordecai Richler's Jacob Two-Two Meets The Hooded Fang. Richler created an enchanting world fueled by childish imagination run wild, and chose as his central grown-up representative a scary Fang who finds himself unable to scare children anymore. It's a theme found in films such as Monster's Inc. and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang -- kids just don't scare easily anymore.
What is particularly intriguing about Richler's choice of a professional wrestler as the character through whom to demonstrate this point is that professional wrestling eventually found itself in the same predicament. It was the beginning of the Steve Austin era that discarded the clearly defined "good guys, bad guys" era of pro wrestling. Kids weren't scared of the bad guys anymore. It's of no small interest that an animated series that tells the ongoing adventures of Jacob Two-Two features the voice of Bret Hart as The Hooded Fang. If anyone can have an appreciation of what it means for a person to find himself suddenly unsure of his place in their world, it would be Hart.
The story follows young Jacob Two-Two as he runs away from a misunderstanding that he fears will land him trouble, and his imagination takes him into a courthouse where he's sentenced to serve time in the Children's Prison. While in prison, Jacob receives help from young superheroes with the fantastic monikers of "The Intrepid Shapiro" and "Fearless O'Toole" (who are Jacob's brother and sister imagined as his saviours). Most importantly, however, Jacob eventually reveals The Hooded Fang to be a softie underneath all of his bluster and Jacob awakes to find all is right with his world. The old "it was only a dream" ending doesn't usually have much credibility, but there are certain times when you let it go and enjoy the dream for what it is. With that in mind, it's easy to enjoy both versions of the film.
Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and can be emailed at email@example.com -- SLAM! Wrestling.
Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and wrestling fan. He lives in St.
Catharines, Ontario, and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.