I will admit that sometimes I get jaded doing this blog. Watching year after year fly by, with the shorts that I’m watching not always being entertaining, makes this feel like work more than a hobby, which is what it is. When I envisioned doing this, I thought I would be watching funny cartoons and writing about them. I think now, with the advent of the new Mickey style, I’m where I thought I would be all along.
The Barnyard Olympics, the latest short, helped me come to this realization. This short is all about wacky fun, from the first frame to the last. It is a classic Disney style short, in that it features great storytelling, follows a compelling character all the way through, and features wonderful gags and animation.
The thing that makes this one stand out to me is the way that Mickey and his antagonist are matched up throughout. After some brief scenes of the other events going on in the Barnyard Olympics, we get to see Mickey competing with a larger cat, probably Pete, although it’s a different design.
And by the way, it would be tempting to pass over those early scenes, but they contain some wonderful gags. There is a boxing ring where a goat is refereeing between two bruisers and ends up getting clocked himself, then we switch to the same scene in a wrestling ring, and the combatants and goat get tied up in knots, literally. Both are great scenes, but don’t linger too long, getting the joke in and getting out.
But as I said, it’s the interplay between Mickey and his adversary that makes things work here. Pete (I’m assuming it’s him) tries many things to keep Mickey from winning the triathlon event they are competing in. My favorite is right at the beginning, when he knocks Mickey backwards onto a crate of soda bottles, and Mickey keeps running on top of the spinning bottles like a treadmill. It takes a shot from Clarabelle’s noisemaker to get Mickey going.
The race itself is a burst of energy, with the constant motion of the characters and the stopping points for gags making for a fun combination. From the stripping of Mickey’s boat in the rowing segment to the mashups of the various bicycles in the final segment, each piece deviates from the norm and makes the short better for it.
When Mickey wins, as you know he has to, it’s because Pete accidentally catapults him over the finish line and into the winner’s cup. And in the victory celebration, is that Oswald down in the left corner, under the cup? It makes for a great finish to this fantastic short, easily one of my favorites so far.
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