What is McLaren playing at? Tooned DVD review

DSC_0218Those hoping Ron Dennis makes a swift ‘white knight’ return to the F1 team will be disappointed. The McLaren visionary shows absolutely no sign of narrowing his range.

DSC_0253You might have seen the F1 team’s new cartoons at the end of the grand prix on Sky Sports F1 last season. A series of witty, three minute action packed adventures all involving advanced technology – or not – featuring the (self-voiced) team drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, among others.

All twelve episodes were released on DVD in December, a copy of which DriveEuropeNews was delighted to find in its Christmas stocking this year.

McLaren can look a bit contrived – Dennis descries himself as an ‘old woman’ when it comes to presentation – but there’s no evidence of over-egging here. Tooned absolutely nails it. The jokes are funny, with some subtle layers, appealing to both adults and children, and made with the highest production values. As you would expect, money-no-object McLaren commissioned the best, Framestore, winners of four Oscars in the past six years, for Harry Potter, Dark Knight and Superman.

DSC_0265If you did catch them on TV then there is nothing new to see here bar some ‘making of’ style extras and an interview with McLaren Group boss Ron Dennis.

In it he acknowledges many people looked askance when they heard the company was entering the animation business. McLaren has started a few tangential businesses over the years – from catering to ultra high end hi-fi speakers, not least the road car company – but this is the zaniest departure yet.

Dennis is brilliantly unselfconscious about his motives. It’s a new platform for sponsors, and adds colour to McLaren’s dour image, but above all he aims to attract young viewers to Formula One. Some say F1 generally should be doing this, interesting as we move closer to the time when Bernie Ecclestone steps aside.

DSC_0266Whether it’s a message you want your kids exposed to depends on you – risk taking, anti-authority street smarts, even some creative cheating(!) – but it’s a refreshing change from our safety first culture, certainly.

Quite how Tooned could evolve is fascinating. It certainly isn’t a one-off. We don’t want to ruin the plot, but the final episode clearly had a very short turnaround time, giving Ron Dennis a platform to say all sorts of things. It could get very interesting indeed.

How regularly DriveEuropeNews reaches for its copy remains to be seen. Tooned certainly bears repeat viewing. We suspect these early episodes, at least, will come to be seen as minor classics.

Availabe from Amazon and McLaren Store from around £10.

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