The Barnyard Battle (1929)

The Barnyard Battle ReviewThe Barnyard Battle Review

The Barnyard Battle is a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is a memorable, but flawed entry.

First, I will talk about the negative aspects this time around. The film is somewhat less memorable in its second half and Pete should have been used better. I thought that the animation was solid as was the score, but the film was not really funny in its second half and in my opinion it did not utilize on the military premise all that well. The silent approach was also weird. You hear the sound, but still the film felt like a silent picture and 1929 was so obviously a transitional period for this series as well.

But let’s get to the good stuff. I liked the animation as I said and the score is a lot of fun and catchy. Mickey himself is very good here and you root for him as he gets to go through some really disturbing crap here. I am of course talking about that medical examination. LOL, it was absolutely hilarious while also being very edgy, especially for its time. It was a perfect mix of cartoony and violent and I really liked it.

The medical examination stole the show in The Barnyard Battle, a film which is otherwise not as memorable as a whole.

My Rating – 3.6

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The Sand Castle (1977)

The Sand Castle ReviewThe Sand Castle Review

The Sand Castle is a 1977 Oscar-winning animated short that is so good.

This is definitely one of the most authentic winners in this category and it deserved its Oscar for the sheer originality presented here. It is basically a sand animated film where everything revolves in sand and with creatures out of sand. It looks absolutely gorgeous and I reckon that it must have been hard to make, but it looks so superb that I really appreciate the effort, especially from the character design perspective as the creatures are very intriguing in their looks.

But The Sand Castle is a very good film overall and not just in terms of the animation. Certainly the pacing is off as the beginning is prolonged and the ending is abrupt, but I really liked the story of creatures building other creatures and then their castle and eventually the wind blows it off. It does end on a sad note, but you do expect the whole cycle to repeat itself over and over again. The score is just phenomenal and so moving too.

The Sand Castle is a wonderful film that is original in animation and moving in score and story.

My Rating – 4.2

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When the Cat’s Away (1929)

When the Cat's Away ReviewWhen the Cat’s Away Review

When the Cat’s Away is a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is such a dull entry.

This predated even the Silly Symphonies and it is one of the first cartoons to extensively rely on music and soundtrack to tell its story. But again what story? There is literally no plot here as we basically follow Mickey and Minnie dance around in the house and play the piano.

The score is nice and pleasant and the animation is solid. But I disliked that the two were portrayed as real mice instead of anthropomorphic mice. And again there is nothing here in terms of storytelling and even humor as the film is dull, not funny and overall uninspired. I do hope that the series do not start relying on music from now on.

When the Cat’s Away is the weakest Mickey Mouse short thus far with a dull, plotless approach and it relies too much on music.

My Rating – 3.1

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The Opry House (1929)

The Opry House ReviewThe Opry House Review

The Opry House is a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is such a disappointing one.

Here Mickey basically performs in a theater from dancing to playing on a piano. It was a typical thing to do during this time – take a vaudeville, theatre play and make a short out of it where the character performs a few parts. I honestly never really liked that approach and here the execution isn’t too good to convince me that it was worth it.

The animation is actually very good and polished. Mickey got his gloves here for the first time which is worth a note. He is likable, but not particularly funny. The entire cartoon sounds and looks good and is overall harmless, but there is nothing in it that is memorable or particularly fun or funny and it needed more characters besides Mickey for sure.

The Opry House is well scored and animated, but lacking in terms of plot and characters.

My Rating – 3.3

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Leisure (1976)

Leisure ReviewLeisure Review

Leisure is a 1976 Oscar-winning animated short that is not that great.

First of all, the positive aspects. Well, the entire idea to tell the story of human leisure from prehistory to modern times is interesting and I liked some of its points. It is an interesting subject rarely talked about, but it is something that all of us do and thus it was interesting to me. The narration was also pretty solid here.

But the film is still barely solid and nothing more than that owing to its annoying style that was typical of the seventies. I am talking about the documentary approach of giving us many frames, pictures and photos instead of giving us full, fleshed out animation. Only the prehistory part was animated and it was the best, but otherwise it felt cheap and thus not as interesting as it could have been.

Leisure is a weaker Oscar winner with an interesting subject matter, but a very annoying, cheap presentation of it.

My Rating – 3.3

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Plane Crazy (1929)

Plane Crazy ReviewPlane Crazy Review

Plane Crazy is a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is such a fun film.

Here Mickey takes Minnie for a ride on his plane and he flies it so badly that she gets frustrated with him and literally leaves the plane midair. That was hilarious and another funny moment was the ending of course with such a good magnet gag. The film isn’t quite on par with the previous entries such as ‘The Barn Dance’ as some of its animation was odd and the first half isn’t as entertaining, but the second half is great enough that it succeeds as a pretty good entry overall.

The animation is interesting for featuring some very chaotic camera movements and that was fitting given how bad Mickey was in driving this plane. I liked the film visually and the score is good, but the highlights are Mickey and Minnie’s relationship and of course many great gags.

Plane Crazy is so funny featuring many great gags while also giving us interesting animation and cinematography.

My Rating – 4

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The Barn Dance (1929)

The Barn Dance ReviewThe Barn Dance Review

The Barn Dance is a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is such an unusual, singular entry.

So basically here Mickey wants to dance with Minnie but fails as he is so clumsy and eventually she leaves him for Pete. Now this was obviously made before the characters were firmly established and thus we have Pete who is good and well-mannered and Minnie who is actually pretty mean. The entire cartoon is way too mean spirited in its ending as she left Mickey devastated.

But that also makes it different from the rest of the entries in the series and I really liked seeing Mickey’s more human and flawed side. The score is pretty good and the animation has a couple of tricks up its sleeve too. I am talking about its delightfully surreal gags which were quite typical for the late twenties. I loved tying the knot on her leg and Minnie literally extending her nose to Mickey. The literal, exaggerated approach to the facial expressions and telling emotions here was quite unique and very funny.

The Barn Dance is too mean spirited, but memorable in its uniqueness with some superb, inventive gags.

My Rating – 4.2

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Frank Film (1973)

Frank Film ReviewFrank Film Review

Frank Film is a 1973 Oscar-winning animated short that is very bad.

The directors Frank and Caroline Mouris assembled a bunch of unrelated images and he narrated the film twice, once by explaining the images and the second time relating them to a story. And he put both of those narrations together at once. It is an original technique, but not everything that is original is great and this movie is a fine example of that.

The animation is mediocre and annoying, the images move too fast, way too fast to be recognized, and everything is blurry and dull looking. But the two narrations make the movie impossible to comprehend. I could not hear 80 per cent of it correctly and I do not know how anyone can. It is a stupid, pretentious film that maybe could have been interesting if it wasn’t executed simultaneously, but this way it is one of the worst Oscar-winning animated shorts of all time.

Frank Film did not deserve its Oscar and it’s a travesty that it got it. This original approach to filmmaking is just stupid and it made the movie incomprehensible.

My Rating – 2

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The Gallopin’ Gaucho (1928)

The Gallopin' Gaucho ReviewThe Gallopin’ Gaucho Review

The Gallopin’ Gaucho is a 1928 Disney short film featuring Mickey Mouse. It is the second film in the series.

This is a much weaker film than ‘Steamboat Willie’ which was to be expected, but still I expected a much better film than what we got here. It does have a very adult and mature tone to it with drinking included and I liked that. Mickey is quite memorable here and the swashbuckler approach is very pleasing. Minnie is also memorable as is Pete as the villain.

But the film is weakly animated and scored and it doesn’t wholly utilize on its premise and setting with only the rhea being quite memorable. The plot itself is rather simplistic and the action is forgettable. The gags are also lacking and the film is just not particularly funny or entertaining.

The Gallopin’ Gaucho has good characterization, but weaker action and particularly humor.

My Rating – 3.7

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Westward Whoa (1936)

Westward Whoa ReviewWestward Whoa Review

Westward Whoa is a 1936 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a pretty forgettable short.

This is basically one of those countless 1930s “Indian” cartoons where the protagonists battle the Indians in a deep jungle somewhere. There is nothing here that is worthy whatsoever apart from a solid use of its characters and some good moments from Porky. Other than that, I was bored.

The animation is also unremarkable and the score is not the greatest. I found the action on screen solid, but ultimately forgettable. I liked the ending, but everything else was boring. This is definitely one of the weakest Looney Tunes from this period and I cannot wait for the more emphasis on Porky Pig.

Westward Whoa has its moments, but is mostly dull, forgettable and ultimately quite weak.

My Rating – 3.2

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