Monday, December 28, 2009

On Ice

This is a perfect short to watch right before/after Christmas time, because it features Mickey and the gang ice skating. It has some iconic images of all the Fab Five, and features a little more exploration of the group dynamic than we have seen before. This short shows us how the five most popular Disney characters play together.

My favorite shot in the entire short is right at the beginning, as we see Mickey and Minnie skating in tandem. This is one of my favorite stills from any Mickey short. It’s on a shirt my wife has, and I have seen it many times during the holidays on clothing, pictures, toys and the like. It’s a perfect expression of the two mice together.

But, as has been the case recently, Mickey is merely a sideshow in this short. He does get a brief headlining run, taking a turn through the ice rink to be a daredevil. This is honestly the most we’ve seen of Mickey in his recent shorts, and it’s nice to see him interacting with Minnie and performing for the camera.

Goofy gets the next bit, with an interesting scheme to catch fish. He shaves off bits of tobacco and drops them down a hole in the ice. The fish start chewing, but then they have to spit! This was a great gag, as the fish come up to spit in a bucket that Goofy left out, but of course, he tries to clobber them with disastrous results.

The bulk of the short, though, is Donald and Pluto. Donald catches Pluto napping and slips skates on him, and we see Pluto go through several minutes of trying to learn to ice skate. Again, as in Pluto’s Judgement Day, we see why Pluto was a star. The silent, slapstick humor is fantastic.

It’s interesting to see the difference in the humor between the Fab Five. Goofy manages to do a vaudevillian slapstick, as does Pluto, only silently. Mickey’s gags usually involve a little more self deprecation and sheepishness, while Donald’s all come out of frustration or anger.

I say that, but Donald’s main gag here is getting swept away by the kite he is wearing on his back. Mickey has to unravel his sweater and fly him like a kite to save him, at which point he crashes into Goofy’s ice fishing hole and gets licked by Pluto. It brings the whole thing to a satisfying close.

On a side note, I went ice skating a few days ago, and it was nothing like this. I fell. A lot.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.


  1. Ryan, I love the last line in your review! "I fell. A lot." ^_^ Yes, skating is harder than it looks!

    Also, ever wonder if Liggett & Myers paid anything for all the free advertisement they got in cartoons? Seems like every time you see plug tobacco in a cartoon it has their "Star" brand on the side. It must have been so popular at the time that it became short-hand: "dark rectangle with star on side" = "chewing tobacco"

    I also like the Mickey / Minnie interaction. Mickey gets to play the super competent skater and risk taking hero. A good outing for our favorite mouse in this one I think.


  2. A lovely cartoon in which each character has their own moment to shine. My favourite moments are those with Mickey – both in the opening scenes and him rescuing Donald. I wonder how much these scene were inspired by the earlier (sadly lost) Oswald cartoon "Sleigh Bells". Judging from drawings and the synposis in "Walt in Wonderland" there were some similar moments. Oswald teaches Sadie to skate (Minnie needs help from Mickey), Sadie is aided in her attempts to keep upright with helium balloons (in the opening shot of On Ice a kid goes by doing the same thing) and finally Oswald has to rescue her when she floats away (Mickey saves an airborne Donald).

  3. I remember when I first ice skated, I clung to the walls of the rink a lot for fear that I'd fall. I also remember the skates being very tight and that it was always a relief to take them off afterwards. I suppose I'm making it sound like not much fun, but it actually is pretty fun. I felt sorry for Pluto in this one. When Donald was swept up, I didn't feel sorry for him until he came towards the waterfall, then when he went the other way and landed in the open spot on the ice, I didn't feel sorry for his humiliation because of the humiliation he'd inflicted on Pluto. Is that how most of Donald's humor in later cartoons works, that you don't feel sorry for his humiliation because he's not very nice?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.