It was odd yesterday to see a Goofy short mixed in among the Pluto and Donald parade, but it is downright unusual to see Disney insert an original creation into the mix with the latest short from 1950, Morris the Midget Moose. It’s something that many fans these days clamor for the company to do – create new ideas and characters. But even back in 1950, Disney was built on the profits from their established characters, merchandising and the occasional drift into new creations in feature films.
Completely new stories are very different for Disney, so seeing Morris the Midget Moose come up in the list of shorts I was going to watch made me very interested. The set up is a fall back to older concepts, however. It brings back our old friend, Bootle Beetle, who has always tangled with Donald Duck in the past. In this instance,
Bootle is simply the narrator to
tell the story of Morris, which was originally told by Frank Owen.
The basic tale comes down to the fact that Morris is, well, a midget moose. The other moose are able to eat from the tall trees or do other typical moose activities, while poor Morris, with his oversized antlers and small little body, can’t really do much of anything moose-like. That includes taking on Thunderclap, the leader of the moose clan by clashing antlers. The problem is that Morris, despite having the antlers for the job, cannot actually compete with Thunderclap’s strength.
It’s an interesting tale, but it makes for some uninteresting viewing until Morris runs into Balsam, a normal sized moose with Morris sized antlers. It’s when the two decide to team up that we finally get to see where things are headed, and it becomes a bit more coherent. On the whole, though, neither Morris nor Balsam are all that compelling as characters. The underdog role is really all that there is for viewers to latch onto, but that is not really enough.
Even once the final battle between Thunderclap and the Balsam/Morris hybrid moose takes place, the action is not that compelling. It’s played for comedy rather than a scene of the persecuted moose taking over and gaining the upper hand for once. The whole short feels uneven and difficult to process. The moral of two heads being better than one comes across, albeit not as well as it could. Between the awkward Bootle Beetle framing sequence and the lack of a good reason to root for Morris, it seems this original creation is not everything fans could hope for from Disney.