Goofy’s evolution from Dippy Dawg to George Geef has been quite the sight to behold, and with Father Lion, the complete transformation takes place. Goofy now has a son, and has become the typical suburban father, complete with the white lies that fatherhood entails. Every father has stretched the truth a bit about what they have done to impress their child, and that simple idea is the core of what makes Father Lion such a funny short.
Goofy and his new son (who I assume is named Max) are going on a camping trip, and it’s the road trip to their destination that sets the tone. During the ride, Goofy tells his son of his story fighting Indians in the Wild West and facing down a charging rhino in Africa. It’s completely absurd, which makes it perfect for Goofy. These sequences are so much in the vein of the “How To” shorts, showing Goofy as the “hero” with feet of clay.
It’s when the son buys completely into these stories that you know we are in for a treat. Sure enough, when Goofy arrives at the campsite, he is instantly mixed up with a mountain lion. The lion, while minding his own business, gets entangled with Goofy and his son as they basically manhandle him, without even trying. It’s a fun juxtaposition as Goofy slings the lion around, punches him and kicks him to the curb not even knowing what he is doing.
This general conceit of the lion getting hammered by Goofy is what drives the majority of this short. After the original beating, the lion starts trying to take on Goofy, who manages to accidentally knock him senseless, blow smoke in his face or do other haphazard damage. What makes it so funny is that Goofy’s son is aware of the lion, and even shoots him in the face with his cork gun. The son sees only his father confidently taking on the wild lion, while Goofy is blissfully unaware a challenge has even been mounted.
When the Goof finally figures out what’s going on, it’s even better. Despite his need to make sure his son is safe and yet not lose face, Goofy is still somewhat cowardly. It’s a subtle distinction between he and Donald, that Goofy will charge forward and risk his own safety, while still shaking at the knees, while Donald would run away. Goofy doesn’t lose his mojo, though, managing to escape and start telling more tall tales as soon as he hits the car. It makes for a fun short that is entertaining and relatable.