Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pluto's Housewarming

Hard to believe that we are starting 1947 on Disney Film Project, covering 25 years of Disney films and shorts in about two and a half years. But that’s where we are, as we take a look at Pluto’s Housewarming, the first short in 1947’s slate of Disney projects.

As Pluto shorts go, this one is pretty standard fare, with Pluto trying to move into a new doghouse but getting some resistance along the way. Apparently this new doghouse is right on the beach, so kudos to Pluto for scoring some fine real estate. Seriously, though, the entire background consists of a couple of scenes of sand, which is kind of weird.

The first obstacle to Pluto’s move is a turtle that takes up residence in the house first. The plucky little turtle conveys a sense of attitude and confidence that makes him endearing, even as he is shoving the “hero” of the piece out of the way. It’s a problem that Disney has always had with Pluto.

When Pluto is behaving himself, he’s not that exciting. When Pluto is being a little more mischievous, he is not the hero of the piece so it’s difficult to root for him. So the question becomes how to toe the line between those two things and make Pluto a compelling character? Pluto’s Housewarming does a good job of that with the turtle and then turning right around and introducing someone who is worse than Pluto.

Butch the bulldog returns to the scene in this one, as a squatter in Pluto’s new home. His introduction right in the middle of the short gives a better villain to deal with, but it’s not Pluto who does it. Instead, the turtle takes issue with the bulldog rather than Pluto. This David v. Goliath sort of confrontation adds some real humor and excitement to the proceedings.

It’s fairly easy to see where this is going, right? Pluto and the turtle end up together, because they have a common foe. It makes Pluto more sympathetic and preserves the turtle’s energy from earlier in the short. That’s fun. And it makes Pluto’s Housewarming into an enjoyable, but predictable little short.

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