Monday, March 22, 2010

Polar Trappers

Donald and Goofy together in one short? Comedy gold. In Polar Trappers, the Disney studio left Mickey behind and created a new formula – Donald and Goofy working together. It’s not something we will see in as big a way as we do the “trio” shorts, but it is definitely an interesting change.

As in the trio shorts, the idea is a simple one – Donald and Goofy are trappers in the Arctic, with Goofy trying to catch a walrus, and Donald manning the stove in the igloo. Now, how he is operating a stove inside an igloo without melting it, I don’t know. Regardless, as in most of the trio shorts, from that premise, the gags start flowing quickly.

Donald’s story is set up from the get go, as he is surrounded in the kitchen by nothing but beans. Donald’s frustration causes him to fixate on securing a penguin to be his dinner. My favorite gag in the entire short is watching Donald dress up in a tuxedo to impersonate a penguin. It’s a fantastic gag, with music backing his motions perfectly in time and he even fools a female penguin – for a little while.

Meanwhile, Goofy’s big gag involves a cave covered in ice. After chasing a walrus into the cave, he discovers that the slightest noise will cause icicles to come crashing down. It was a fantastic gag, because as anyone knows, the minute someone or something tells you can’t do something, that’s all you want to do. A giant sneeze leads Goofy to being buried in ice.

The last part of the short involves Donald fooling a school of penguins by playing Pied Piper. This is a really cute segment, because of the interaction with Donald and a smaller penguin. The little penguin continually gets in Donald’s way, and our favorite duck has to try and throw the little guy out of the way or divert him.

As you’d imagine, it doesn’t work out so well, as a random tear by the little penguin freezes and becomes a snowball, rolling downhill and trashing Donald and Goofy’s camp. It’s a great action packed gag to end the short, calling back to the crash landing endings of some of the early Mickey shorts.

Polar Trappers isn’t going to be confused with art like The Old Mill or some of the beautiful backdrops from Wynken, Blynken and Nod, but it’s not trying to be that. This is a gag first short, but it works beautifully.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent cartoon. Extremely entertaining and just full of fun. Although it's played for laughs, I think this cartoon holds up well as a piece of art even compared to The Old Mill and especially Wynken, Blynken & Nod. There's some very cleverly thought out stuff in this cartoon and some pretty artful choices to help move the story along. Check out some of the 'camera angles' chosen aswell as little moments, like the penguin coming into view in the window behind Donald, Donald's threatening shadow creepy up behind the penguin and the shapes, patterns and shadows the penguin make across the landscape as they march along. Not only that, but of course the backgrounds and cartoony animation are beautifully done and there's an abundance of detail to almost give the feeling that the hand-painted world we are viewing truly exists – it's not just flat cartoon graphics.


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