Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mickey Down Under

Mickey’s back! Well, that’s not true, it’s not just his back it’s the entire mouse! Mickey Down Under returns our favorite mouse to the screen, in a bit of a different form from his last major appearance in Fun and Fancy Free. Along with Pluto, he takes a journey to Australia to join the land of boomerangs and kangaroos. The results are mixed at best.

Mickey Down Under opens with a new look for Mickey. He is softer edged and has a different facial structure than in the past. This is not his most popular look and consequently has not endured. The design we saw from Mickey in Fun and Fancy Free is much more like what we know Mickey as today. This different style Mickey is a bit of a distraction while watching, because it seems somewhat unfamiliar.

Pluto, meanwhile, is his same silly self he has been for years. In this short he ends up spending most of his time trying to capture the boomerang that Mickey throws. We see him throw up his pointer pose to show Mickey the way and then run after the boomerang. The remainder of his actions in the short consist of him biting the boomerang and having it stuck in his mouth. He twists, turns and contorts in order to try and get the boomerang out, but to no avail.

Mickey, meanwhile, gets entangled with a giant ostrich. Yes, you heard me, a giant ostrich. I’m unaware of the great Australian legends of the giant ostrich, but Mickey gets involved in a mess with the ostrich’s egg. This is where we get some of the great sheepish Mickey shots that are so much a part of his personality. Mickey works well when he is being shy or backing down. Remember his confrontations with Pete when he would grin and give a nervous giggle? That’s the kind of stuff you get here.

That’s a redeeming quality to a short that does not have a great deal of them. While Mickey Down Under is good because I can see Mickey again, it lacks a lot of the fun and great gags that Mickey shorts used to have. That’s sad, because Mickey used to be the most mischievous and exciting character that Disney had. This version does not compare to the old black and white version.


  1. Right on target with Mickey—it's sad when the most humor we can expect out of him is a shot of him getting flustered, however funny.
    Once again, the biggest problem is that he's just offscreen for a crazy amount of time, to the point where the cartoon just feels badly structured.

  2. I have the feeling that Nichols really didn't like Mickey and prefer Pluto. There's seem to be a bigger hint that when he directed some UPA-like TV car ads with stylized Disney characters, Mickey was redesigned so much to the point he was almost unrecongnizable. Yet, Pluto virtualy remained the same and still had more screen time than his angler owner.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that bird mickey encountered was an Emu, which is native to Austraila.

  3. Very true, David. It seems a lot of these late 40s cartoons lack the structure that characterized earlier Disney shorts.

    An emu, Nick? Interesting. I'll investigate and change it.

  4. Yeah, that's definitely a "Did Not Do The Research" Emu.

    Love this blog! And I especially love that you're reviewing shorts, pointing out some of the weird moments in old favorites I haven't seen in years.

    I should mention that I've got an ongoing "Watch Every Disney Film With Animation in it" project of my own, if you're interested: I also recommend this:


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