Birds in the Spring (1933)

Birds in the Spring ReviewBirds in the Spring Review

 Birds in the Spring is a 1933 Disney Silly Symphony film. It is a clichéd Silly Symphony.

We follow the hatchling of the birds, then we see their parents teaching them how to sing and afterwards one baby bird wanders away and encounters a rattlesnake and hornets. It ends with his father spanking him. Again we see Disney’s early obsession with spanking and again we follow birds and the parents are as annoying as ever. Its message in the end is typical and all of the plot points that happened here are beyond familiar and obvious.

The birds sound as great as ever as the sound effects are terrific. And of course the animation is expectedly splendid. I loved its colorful  style and not only do the birds look endearing and well designed, but the backgrounds are surprisingly crisp and polished as well. The technical aspects elevate an otherwise tiresome flick.

Birds in the Spring is technically terrific with great sound and splendid animation, but the message is obvious and its familiar story hurt it in the long run.

 My Rating – 3.3

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The Bears and the Bees (1932)

The Bears and the Bees ReviewThe Bears and the Bees Review

The Bears and the Bees is a 1932 Silly Symphony animated short film by Disney. It is one of the better entries of its time.

I really liked this cartoon as it is immensely endearing. We follow two mischievous bear cubs who play around and find honey, but upset the bees who thankfully turn their attention to another big bear and attack him instead. That final part was definitely troublesome. I wouldn’t punish the little bears either, but having them enjoy the honey all by themselves and the big innocent bear take the blame felt problematic. Such an odd choice from the writers.

But other than that, it was a great little film which is actually very underrated and one of the best Silly Symphonies of 1932 for sure. The animation is pretty good and the character designs were pleasing. But I loved how sweet the cubs looked and their playing around was wonderful. It is the kind of simplistic, yet very well crafted entry that I wish there more of them like this, without music and with an emphasis on humor, heart and characters.

The Bears and the Bees definitely has an odd ending, but fine animation, endearing characters and it is such a sweet little film and quite underrated.

 My Rating – 4

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The Busy Beavers (1931)

The Busy Beavers ReviewThe Busy Beavers Review

 The Busy Beavers is a 1931 Disney animated short film from the Silly Symphonies series. It is the usual stuff from the series.

This is one of those early Silly Symphonies that are meant for educating children, this time around we follow beavers and how they build and repair a dam. Now I found this short to be solid with fine animation and sound and a good, cute ending. I liked that the beavers got their short and they were utilized quite well.

However, the short is dull and pretty uneventful. The humor is nowhere to be found and the action on screen is pretty typical and never memorable at all. But the biggest problem lies in the animation. The character design in particular. I just really dislike the early Silly Symphony designs and this is no exception as the beavers look ridiculous and totally unrealistic. Too big and almost like bears. Instead of cute, they looked ugly and thus ruined the flick.

The Busy Beavers is solid and well made, but it is typical and filled with terrible looking beavers.

 My Rating – 3.3

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Night (1930)

Night ReviewNight Review

 Night is a 1930 Disney animated short film. It is a typical early Silly Symphony.

I liked Night, but I still found it to be not particularly memorable, although better than most of its contemporaries. Basically there is no plot here as we just follow various animals and what they do during nighttime. I loved that it used a great composition and in fact it incorporated really well the sound and score into the movements of the characters, but the dances were still clichéd.

I liked the bugs and how they glowed, that was well animated. I liked the animation overall as it felt really pleasant and they fittingly brought the feeling and tone of night really well. But the last segment with the frogs was just so disappointing. A male frog woos the female and then they dance on lily pads until falling into the waterfall. That final punch line was expected and really not a great way to close the film.

Night has its moments, is well scored and animated, but it is still typical in its dances and it ends poorly.

 My Rating – 3.3

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Springtime (1929)

Springtime ReviewSpringtime Review

 Springtime is a 1929 Disney short film in the Silly Symphony series. It is a wild, albeit typical short.

In Springtime, we see a lot of the trees and animals join in a joyful celebration of the spring that has just arrived. It is one of those typical Silly Symphonies where there is no plot or characterization to be had whatsoever and where it was just an excuse for the animators to put as much music and crazy animation and gags as possible.

It isn’t one of the most memorable entries of its time, but it surely is solid owing to its wild approach and many memorable creatures and plants depicted. I liked the score quite a bit and the dances are for once solidly utilized and not as boring as they are in the other entries from this period. The ending is a lot of fun and I liked the character design here.

Springtime is typical for the time period, but quite solid thanks to its good score and very good animation.

 My Rating – 3.5

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Woodland Café (1937)

Woodland Café ReviewWoodland Café Review

Woodland Café is a 1937 Disney short film in the Silly Symphony series and an interesting, but flawed experiment.

It is basically set in a nightclub for bugs where they dance, play cards and flirt. The film is most evidently split into three acts and that is the problem. The transitions between the scenes do not feel smooth and the editing is truly to blame along with the direction. And even though the seduction scene is visually intriguing and interesting in its provocative moments, it still seemed too weird for Disney.

The first part sets it up just fine, if not in a great manner and I liked how it ended. In terms of storytelling, it could have been better, but in terms of originality, it is pretty solid as well as in world building as it creates this bug club wonderfully. I liked the score, but I didn’t love it. And the animation is most certainly the highlight as it is astonishing to behold at times with some pretty artistic scenery.

Woodland Café could have been better edited and scripted, but is wonderfully animated and unique in a way.

 My Rating – 3.3

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Mother Pluto (1936)

Mother Pluto ReviewMother Pluto  Review

Mother Pluto is a 1936 Disney short film in the Silly Symphony series and though it has its moments, it is a typical short.

Pluto cares for some chicks, that is the entire plot here basically. And it is definitely familiar and forgettable. I loved Pluto, but I found the hen to be weirdly presented here and even though the animation is pretty good and the film is well made, it is dull and too long for this simplistic premise.

Pluto is as adorable as ever, but this is far from his best cartoons. But watching him cry near the end was sad and watching him get reunited with the babies was sweet and him taking the role of a mother produced some heartwarming scenes. But it is otherwise such a slight entry in the Silly Symphony roster and I was never really engaged or charmed with it.

Mother Pluto definitely is heartwarming and Pluto is lovable, but the plot is typical and it is a forgettable short.

 My Rating – 3.3

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The Cookie Carnival (1935)

The Cookie Carnival ReviewThe Cookie Carnival Review

The Cookie Carnival is a 1935 Silly Symphony animated short that is solid in some areas, but weak in plot.

This short sounds very interesting on paper, but in execution, it is actually not as great and is mostly just serviceable. I guess that the story is an homage to beauty contests of the time, but that only makes it even more archaic than usual. The dialogue through singing is typical, the characters are forgettable and the overall storyline is never particularly inspired besides the idea in the first place which is solid. And I also liked the somewhat more progressive portrayal of women here in that the girl herself chose her husband which was a nice change in pace for its era.

What else is solid here? Well, the animation of course which is more than solid. It is pretty inspired at times with the character design particularly being superb and the colors being exciting and pleasing to the eye. The film is polished and very well made plus the score is solid. I only wish that it was stronger in substance.

The Cookie Carnival is exceptionally well animated, but weak in terms of storytelling and characterization.

 My Rating – 3.5

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The Flying Mouse (1934)

The Flying Mouse ReviewThe Flying Mouse Review

 The Flying Mouse is a 1934 Disney animated short film that is one of the finest Silly Symphonies of the time.

I absolutely loved this Silly Symphony. It is easily one of the best entries in the series as it represents everything I like the most about it – a film with great animation, good score, but most importantly filled with a wonderful, important message for children. And truly the message here resonates a lot. The mouse wants to fly and is granted that wish after saving a fairy butterfly, but eventually learns that he doesn’t fit in with either his family mice or other flying creatures such as birds and rats. And of course he gets to be the mouse again in a moving finale.

That message that you should respect who you are is excellent for children and it is a great warning about nature and how you can’t fight it. And the film is otherwise strong as well. The only problem here is that there are some scenes that feature recycled animation from previous Silly Symphonies. But other than that, it is mostly a very consistent film that is over nine minutes long but never feels overlong and it is beautifully animated as well with great character designs and some really cool backgrounds. The score is also terrific.

The Flying Mouse is a Silly Symphony that succeeds in spades with a terrific message, great animation, superb plot and a very moving ending.

 My Rating – 4.6

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The China Shop (1934)

The China Shop ReviewThe China Shop Review

The China Shop is a 1934 Disney short film in the Silly Symphony series. It is a visually arresting film.

The animation here is absolutely phenomenal. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is the best animated Silly Symphony up to this point in time. The character designs are fantastic as both the old man and those china antiques look detailed and realistic. The style is excellent and the highlight has to be its meticulous approach in the china antiques themselves as they for instance glister at some parts. That is so admirable.

In terms of storytelling, it is pretty solid, albeit far from inspired. I loved the beginning and that ending is just so clever and very funny, but everything that came in between wasn’t that great. Some action parts were excellent, but most of the fights and the conflict were expected. But it is overall well crafted and well told and those scenes such as its sophisticated ending help elevate the material a lot.

The China Shop is gorgeously animated, while also being mostly very well told with a very clever ending.

 My Rating – 4

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