Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Pluto gets into it with another animal over some kind of food. By this point all of you should have stopped me, because we’ve seen this formula quite a bit. Bone Bandit is merely the latest example of the Pluto clashing with small critters formula, with a gopher taking the antagonist role this time around.
Pluto awakens from a nap with a hankering for a bone, and in a nice little visual gag, he dreams up the “treasure map” that tells him where he has buried his supply of bones. That was a cool gag that gets around one of Pluto’s weaknesses – his inability to talk. Finding creative ways to make him interesting despite that handicap is the top challenge for Pluto’s animators. The map gag works well to accomplish that.
Sadly, when he finds the bone, a gopher has beaten him to it. The gopher is more interested in somehow swallowing the flowers above into the ground, but in the process disturbs Pluto’s bone. After getting into a bit of a kerfuffle with Pluto, the gopher’s focus switches from stealing the flowers to irritating Pluto, either by stealing his bone or other means.
After messing with the bone for a while, the gopher switches his focus to the flowers that seem to make our doggy friend sneeze. Once this discovery is made, the short is an exercise in ratcheting up the comedy as things go along. One sneeze from Pluto becomes many, an underground confrontation gets ugly, and ultimately, Pluto’s sneeze triggers the near destruction of the entire backyard of the house.
It’s the quick escalation from routine to ridiculous that really saves this short from being just another Pluto cartoon. That’s not to say that this is on the level with the Disney classics, but the fun ending that features the entirety of the backyard in chaos is reminiscent of the early Pluto shorts, when he would destroy everything. In this case, it’s the end of an otherwise enjoyable if predictable short.