Friday, March 2, 2012
D52 - Week 9 - Fun and Fancy Free
The thin thread that connects Bongo with Mickey and the Beanstalk is Jiminy Cricket. But it isn't about Jiminy telling us these stories, but rather leading us to places where the stories are told by someone else. Which is kind of weird when you think about it. But not really.
Supposedly, Bongo was at some point proposed as a feature-length film itself. Surprising, since I thought the half-film version was rather padded out as it was. Did we really need the scene where Bongo just sits there, in the flowerbed, doing nothing but looking around and taking in his surroundings for a while?
But I feel kind of bad for Bongo - not for what he went through in his short, but how he's practically been left in the dustbin of forgotten Disney animated characters. Searching through Google and eBay for any Bongo merchandise that's ever existed, I only find the video, the book, pins, and the odd figurine. Has there really never been a plush Bongo? Compare him to another Disney bear: Duffy the Bear, who currently is available at many, many Disney retailers, along with a plethora of clothes and accessories. You can even have your picture taken with a "Character Greeting" Duffy. But whereas Bongo was one of the stars of an early full-length animated (package) feature, Duffy started out as a thing-for-you-to-buy. And he still gets all the glory nowadays. Poor Bongo. Maybe somewhere out there right now he's riding the unicycle from Pixar's "Red's Dream."
The second half features a grown man who has invited a young girl and nobody else to attend a "party" of just him and his handful of puppet friends. Ye-e-ep. If you like that old vaudevillian style of comedy where every other line is either a set-up to a joke or the punchline to it, you'll like these segments. Me, I have to be in the right mood for it.
I'm sure I had seen the cartoon before but I don't remember the live-action bumpers at all. Perhaps I'd seen it in some truncated form by itself? Or I just blocked the Bergen antics from my memory. There are definitely bits worth remembering though, like Goofy's experience with gelatin. I'll choose to gloss over the narrative cheat of the three heroes adventuring into the castle simply because, eh, they felt like it and were curious.
Favorite character: Who else but Donald would be driven so mad as to make an impromptu sandwich out of plates and cutlery and chomp a big shattery bite out of it? [Note: Amanda thought I laughed too hard at that.]
Least-necessary character: The Bergen puppet we first see, which is to say his drawn-on hand. I realize the (intentional?) irony of having a famous ventriloquist who regularly uses intricately designed puppets first being shown using the simplest version of one, but it still was rather unnecessary.
Overall: While Mickey and the Beanstalk has its worthwhile moments (and this can be said of many non-package-feature shorts), Fun and Fancy Free is front-loaded with a cartoon starring a not-loveable-enough non-icon, making the entire presentation more fancy-free than fun.
-I don't know what the bear/doll thing was all about. Maybe it was supposed to be whimsical. But a doll or pair of dolls being perfectly lifelessly still one moment and in a different pose and different expressions on their faces after you look away and back again ... that's a horror movie scene right there.
-The name "Mickey & the Beanstalk" sure does seem to snub Donald and Goofy. I realize "Mickey, Donald, Goofy and the Beanstalk" is not quite as punchy, but still. At least it's not as bad as "Mickey's Christmas Carol," which only showed Mickey a bit at the beginning and end. I wouldn't be surprised if Willie the Giant had more screen time than Mickey in that one.
-I think of Mortimer Snerd as the Tow Mater of his era.
I can't say I'm a fan of these package features or so they are apparently called. I like all of the individual shorts that get put together in them. Growing up in the 80s and 90s I have seen all of them. The little tidbits were always part of various Disney specials particularly around Christmas and each was extremely memorable on their own. The unfortunate part for me is that when they are all strung together, I get a case of ADD and at the end, I have trouble remembering ANY of them.
There was something about a bear. There was a baseball game... no wait, that was another package feature. OH Mickey and the Beanstalk! I honestly thought that was something that was released on its own. I know Jiminy Cricket was in it singing a friendly little song and I was jarred readily by the live action sequences.
Bah. I just am so so ready to watch some nice full length movies that aren't a stream of unrelated shorts.
I'm not sure I can even do Favorite, Least necessary and Overall because I just don't remember anything that happened.
Mickey and his buds were forced up the beanstalk because they were all heavy sleepers, but once there, they found themselves in a good position to save the very pretty and very valuable harp. It's not as pretty, and not as valuable, but here's my version of the harp.