Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Greener Yard

With The Greener Yard, Disney returns to an earlier character they had created in the short Bootle Beetle.  It is again classified as a Donald Duck short, but in truth, the main fowl is in it for only a fraction of the time.  The main focus is on the beetle, and his adventures out in the big world, facing off with Donald and others as his adversary.



The short is designed in much the same way as the earlier Bootle Beetle short, with an older beetle telling a younger one about his past adventures.  In this case it is all about the trip over the fence from the outside yard and into Donald’s farm.  The point, of course, is that the younger beetle wants to venture out as well, but the older gent tells him that things are not quite as green on the other side of the glass, hence the title of the short.



The beetle does run into Donald fairly quickly, but that’s hardly the best or most exciting part of this piece.  When there’s interaction between the two, it’s still good, with the beetle shoveling watermelon seeds off the duck’s nose and other types of shenanigans.  It’s not that funny, since we have seen Donald fight all sorts of animals before.  So, a few minutes into this short, I was wondering where the funny would come from.



My answer was in a scene that followed, when the beetle was running away from Donald, and ends up fighting a chicken.  He doesn’t just fight the chicken, though, that would be an understatement.  No, the beetle plucks a needle from nearby and sword fights with the chicken like he’s Errol Flynn.  The chicken slashes and bites with its beak, and the beetle pokes and prods back with the needle.  It’s funny, adventurous and entertaining all at once, and salvaged the short for me.



In the end, when the younger beetle hears this story, he rightly decides to accept the dinner of beans without much complaint.  But the older beetle isn’t quite ready to let go yet, as we see when he retrieves some watermelon from Donald’s garden.  It just sort of undermines the entire premise of the short, though, because the beetle has spent the last few minutes showing why going into the garden is a bad idea.  The whole thing doesn’t hold together well, and offers less Donald than one might expect.  That’s why I’d imagine this is not a short that many have seen.

2 comments:

  1. This is the kind of thing I notice, but it's strange how careful the animators were with scale in these Bootle Beetle shorts - and then in that last screengrab, they're eating human-scale watermelon slices.

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  2. Good point. This one just seems really off compared to others of the time. I mean, it's only about Bootle Beetle, but it's pretty much the same as the other ones. And it's definitely not the same careful animation as we've seen elsewhere.

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