Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Camp Dog

Normally, when watching the Disney shorts, I don’t care for the times when the main characters are shunted off to the side in place of newer characters.  For example, when Donald gets none of the spotlight and Chip and Dale are the primary focus.  I don’t care for that type of storytelling, because I obviously come to these cartoons for the Disney main characters.  Camp Dog, however, is an exception to that rule.  The inventive gags and use of the recurring coyote characters is so good that it makes up for the fact that Pluto is not all that prevalent in his own short.

Camp Dog tells the story of the coyote characters that we have seen menacing Pluto before, presumably a young coyote and his father.  Production notes call these two Bent Tail, the Coyote and his son, Bent Tail, Junior, although they are never named in the four shorts that they appear in during this period.  They are great characters, though, because of their interactions with each other.  In this instance, it’s because the older coyote is trying to steal the food that the campers have left tied up in a tree, while the younger simply wants to cut to the chase and eat Pluto instead!

When you get the absurdity of Bent Tail, Jr. trying to eat Pluto, this short becomes a very hilarious tale.  He keeps dragging Pluto out of the campers’ tent just as his father is getting a handle on the food stores.  Each time, you expect Pluto to wake up and stop them, but he doesn’t do so for the first part of the short, except one memorable sequence where he charges right past Junior and into the woods.  The back and forth is exceptional between the two coyotes.

The gags make Camp Dog shine, though.  A great sequence of Junior actually inside the box where the food is kept as his father is trying to hold onto the rope end builds the comedic tension until the inevitable crash.  The gag of having the coyotes pretend to be campers sleeping in the tents is also quite funny, as Pluto plays along with it for a minute before realizing he’s been had.

My favorite, though, has to be the ending.  After Pluto has finally woken up and done the chase scene that was so prominent in all the older Disney shorts from the 1930s, thereby demolishing the camp, he realizes what he has done.  The campers are coming back from their trip up the river, and Pluto sees that the damage done is all going to be blamed on him.  So rather than try to catch the coyotes, he joins them!  That is something new for Disney shorts, and it makes Camp Dog a great addition to the Pluto canon.

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