Sunday, December 25, 2011

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 51 - Cinderella

This week the DFPP team sets out to help their friend Betsy solve The Case of the Missing Glass Slipper by first reviewing the crime scene footage of her latest encounter with the Wicked Tremaine Gang in the 1950 animated classic Cinderella.

Listen, download, etc.

Show Notes:

Enjoy the show!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tennis Racquet

Here’s the way to get me to check out a Goofy short – feature some sort of sporting event.  Since the beginning of the Goofy formula of having a narrator discussing the proper way to execute some athletic endeavor while the Goof does it poorly, I have enjoyed every single one.  Some work better than others, but every one of them has great entertainment value.

Tennis Racquet gets to one of the few sports Goofy has not yet touched – tennis.  And as usual, it’s not with a reverent tone.  Instead, every convention about tennis is made fun of in this short.  It starts with the attendees, who are all packed into the middle of the stadium.  That’s the ones who actually go to the tennis match, and not to the nearby flower show instead.  That’s just the start of the jokes at the expense of the game of tennis.

One twist to the formula this time around is that instead of an omniscient narrator that is offscreen, the short features a broadcaster in a booth calling the action.  It’s that broadcaster that provides the narration, often inaccurately.  This little twist makes things interesting, because the commentator has to often lean over to the spectator in front of him to make sure he is making the right call.  That’s a great addition to this series.

It’s needed, because I may be jaded, but the sports action in Tennis Racquet is not as interesting as some of the other shorts.  The two Goofys competing against each other in the tennis match have some fun gags, but I think that some of these are less compelling because we’ve seen Goofy tossed around so many times before.  My favorite, though, is the groundskeeper, who continues to mow the lawn, pick the weeds and tend to the grass on the court despite the play of the competitors. 

Despite what drawback there might be to this one, it is just fantastic to have Goofy back in circulation with a sports short.  I think this is how the Goof works best.  It is another step along the way towards the evolution of Goofy from the bumbling guy we saw in his early cartoons to the “everyman” of the later shorts.  Soon enough, we’ll see Goofy become a father, a suburban man and several other roles.  The design and mannerisms of that future Goofy are present here as well.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 50 - Meet the Robinsons

For their 50th Episode the DFPP team and friend Shelley decide to keep moving forward by getting their hands on a time machine and following two kids and a old guy with a robot for a hat through time in the 2007 animated adventure Meet the Robinsons.

Show Notes:

Enjoy the show!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Honey Harvester

Has anyone else noticed that Donald Duck has a preoccupation with food in the latest shorts of the 1940s?  I mean, everything he has done in the Chip and Dale shorts has been about protecting his feasts.  Now, for want of honey, Donald is going after an innocent bee that has been taking the honey from his flowers.  Thus, the basics of Honey Harvester are in place for a pretty enjoyable short.

While this short doesn’t have much of the trademark Donald temper tantrum, it replaces it with Donald plotting against the bee.  A plotting Donald is generally pretty entertaining, because his plots rarely work out and will inevitably involve the main duck getting his comeuppance.  In this case, the bee is quite the character, which makes it doubly satisfying, because he is a joy to watch.

The short begins with the bee demonstrating his technique for removing honey from the flowers, and storing it in an old rusted out car’s radiator.  It’s an ingenious system, because it hides the honey from other animals, especially Donald.  Once Donald gets wind of the little guy, he begins to do the math in his head.  Quite literally, actually, as we get to see Donald adding the pieces together to come up with the idea that he needs to steal the honey.

Donald’s dogged pursuit of the honey is something to behold.  He continually tries to trick the bee into leading him towards the prize, but to no avail.  It’s quite an accident when he figures it out and begins to steal the honey from the car.  As you may imagine from my previous statements, this is a big mistake.  The bee goes on a rampage, stinger to the wind, and starts divebombing Donald from all over the yard.  To say this section is funny would be a huge understatement.

The bee manages to steal a stinger off of a cactus to overcome some of Donald’s defense mechanisms, making for a very potent stinger.  Everything works about this part of the short.  The sound design of the bee as a bomber, the fast moving animation, Donald’s expressions – it’s all top notch.  Every single piece works together beautifully.  Honey Harvester is that rare example of a Donald short where Donald doesn’t have to lose his temper in order to make a really fun cartoon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 49 - Monsters, Inc.

It's been 10 years since Monsters, Inc. came out, but it seems just like yesterday.  On this week's Disney Film Project Podcast, the gang takes a look at this Pixar classic, and tries to put that thing back where it came from, or so help them.  Join us for Boo, Mike Wazowski and more fun than you can shake a tentacle at.

Show Notes:
Enjoy the show!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bubble Bee

Bubble Bee is a short about a dog chewing gum.  Let that sink in for minute, and you’ll understand why I was not a huge fan of this Pluto adventure.  Pluto fighting against another dog, or against other animals?  That’s mildly entertaining.  Pluto fighting against himself trying to chew gum?  Hand me a pillow, because I’m going to fall asleep.

Where to begin?  First, there is the rather silly idea that Pluto is just dying to get himself a piece of gum from a gumball machine.  I don’t know how that makes sense, because I’m not a dog owner, but I have not seen many dogs pursuing a ton of gum.  Nevertheless, when Pluto walks by a gumball machine, you’d think he had never seen anything so enticing in all his life.

On top of that, his inability to get into the gumball machine to claim his prize causes great frustration.  That frustration is only compounded by a bumble bee that takes off into the machine and comes out with a piece of gum.  Following the bee to its hive, Pluto finds the hive is stuffed with gumballs which he proceeds to extract and eat.  This would have been the perfect spot for a nice gag with bees attacking him, but no, we get a dog chewing gum.

Indeed, that is the next 90 seconds of this 7 minute short.  You heard me.  That much time is dedicated to watching Pluto chew gum.  Sure, there are some gags with the bubbles and how he blows them, but for the most part, it’s coming up with interesting ways to show Pluto chewing gum.  The bee gets involved looking for revenge, and uses the gum to tie Pluto in knots. 

If any of this sounds appealing to you, then you should go and watch this short.  I think you can tell that it does not appeal to me.  There was no flow to the short and no story for me to latch on to in order to keep going through the gum chewing.  I don’t know what the animation team had much to work with in this instance, or if the story team took the week off, but Bubble Bee was definitely a subpar story.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Storage

Donald Duck works with Chip and Dale.  It just makes sense, and that’s why we see them together so often in the 1940s.  Donald has to have a foil to showcase his giant temper and amusing frustrations, and nothing brings that out of him more than the two chipmunk heroes trying to steal his food.  In Winter Storage, at least they have a very good reason for trying to do so.

As the calendar turns, the chipmunks are working feverishly to stock up their stores for the cold winter to come.  They run into difficulty when they encounter the park ranger Donald Duck, who is using acorns to seed an area of the park with new trees.  The acorns being what Chip and Dale are after, it works out well for them.  They are able to follow behind Donald and make mischief, getting the acorns to literally fall out of the bags.

The interesting twist in this version of the familiar trope is that Chip and Dale end up at each other’s throats.  It’s a nice difference from past shorts, where the back and forth between Donald and the chipmunks has been done to death.  With the chipmunks getting irritated with each other, it’s puts a new spin on a familiar story.

The other thing that happens is Donald is able to trap these two in a box, marking the first time I can remember where Donald gets the upper hand.  It doesn’t last, however, as the two manage to put aside their differences and escape.  I really enjoyed the animation in this short, as the frantic actions of Chip and Dale are so fluid and exciting that it really sucks you in.  Past shorts have featured this as well, but it felt very manic and exciting in this one.

Winter Storage is definitely not a groundbreaking short, because it doesn’t offer much new in the way of animation, and only minor changes to the standard Donald vs Chip and Dale formula.  I did enjoy the hockey scenes at the end, where Donald’s mad attempts to prevent the acorn theft turn into some high quality hockey goalie action.  It’s a harmless little short that entertains, but ultimately is nothing new.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 48 - The Muppets

This week the DFPP team can’t seem to wipe the smiles off their faces as they use the map travelling skills of 80s Robot to recreate that rainbow connection for their old friends Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo in the 2011 comedy The Muppets.