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GET A HORSE!

Apparently, an animator named Lauren MacMullen decided to make a retro Mickey Mouse short for theaters. It was released in 2013, before Frozen. It was not an original idea. Mark Kausler said that he had come up with the idea of a throwback rubberhose Mickey while working at Disney in the Nineties, but was turned down because such a cavalier attitude towards a cooperate icon was frowned on (this inspired It's the Cat!, a short film he made about a rubbery, Twenties-style feline). When it apparently became "appropriate" to do it-when Mickey means even less is the public's eye-they didn't bring on Kausler, who knows more about rubberhose than anybody else. 

I must say I was disappointed. The idea of a throwback Disney short was very interesting. I was hoping it would be an authentic seven minutes similar to The Barn Dance or Mickey's Follies, but it isn't even a story. Three minutes in the characters burst out of the movie screen and become CGI.

You never get a sense that the people behind it even wanted to imitate an old Disney cartoon. It more of slogs through, just extending the arms and legs when it felt necessary. This kind of impossibility in cartoons-contrary to popular belief-had meaning. In, say, Tex Avery cartoons, when a character's body falls apart, it's not for no apparent reason. It is usually a statement on the character's emotions. In the aforementioned The Barn Dance, the nervous Mickey's feet grow when dancing with Minnie. The looseness with the body in Get a Horse! isn't there because the animators wanted to do it; it just had to be there

Sometimes the rubberhose stuff is even inaccurate to Disney cartoons themselves: at least twice inanimate objects come to life and speak. There were little if ever jokes of that sort in early Mickeys. This type of thing was in Fleischer cartoons. This gives me the impression that the people making it knew nothing about old Mickey Mouse save "Steamboat Billy" and "Skeleton Skip". They knew some black and white cartoons had talking inanimate objects, so why not put it in here? What's weird is that I know they must have, because the animation director was Eric Goldberg, a talented animator and expert on Golden Age cartoons. What happened Eric?

Probably the reason for this is that the real way these cartoons were (ergo Iwerksian humor) wouldn't send over nowadays. Spitting, outhouses, spittoons, drunkenness, underwear, and debauchery would seem out of place, I guess, for an audience nowdays. Sure, in kids cartoons you can have demons and zombies and horror, and in adult animation explicit sex and nudity, but Mickey blowing a raspberry is off limits?

The animation is fluid, which would look great anywhere except here. The straightforward Iwerks animation of the early ones is not present, except the type of gracefulness in Treasure Island and The Princess and the Pea. So it even is not like classic Disney in visuals!

All I can say in the end, though, is that Get a Horse! is more worth a watch than Frozen.

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4 comments:

  1. I think you're being unduly censorious. For one thing, inanimate objects do occasionally come to life in the early Mickeys, for example the hot dogs in "The Karnival Kid". More to the point, "Get a Horse" was meant to be a tribute to the early Disney cartoons, not a pastiche, in the same way that nobody is going to mistake Tchaikovsky's "Mozartiana" Suite for an authentic work by Mozart.

    Which brings me to a question, if I may preface it with a brief excursus. Early in the 20th century there was a composition teacher at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt who, instead of encouraging his students to develop their own musical styles, assigned them to compose works in the styles of other composers: Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and so on. The idea being that mastering the elements of technique took precedence over personal expression. The students hated this, because they were graded not on the basis of whether they had written a good piece or not, but on how closely they matched the style of the composer in question. Also, Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn et al. didn't learn to compose by doing this. But some students who later became successful composers found the experience valuable.

    So my question is: What would you think of a hypothetical animation course in which students had to animate short scenes in the styles of Iwerks, Nolan, Scribner, Cannon, Tyer, and so on? Do you think this would be helpful? I kind of do, but then what do I know?

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    1. I'm okay with reevaluations for classicals, like that French guy (name escapes me) who did jazz Bach. I think this one seemed like a POOR pastiche, because of its inaccuracies and overall pointlessness.

      Glad to meet another classical fan!

      Not really Iwerks and the like for a hypothetical class. I tend to agree with Ollie Johnston, as charming as these rubberhose films were, they basically were the missing link to the perfected form in Pinocchio and Warners', so idolization of their artistic styles and such may not be a good idea. I'm open to anything different!

      What do YOU know? Apparently everything!

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    2. I believe you're thinking of Claude Bolling. Did you know that he composed for animation? At least, he scored the two Lucky Luke features, which, as a western fan, you might enjoy. (What do you call a Spaghetti Western made in Belgium? A Waffle Western?)

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    3. Thanks! Never heard of Lucky Luke.

      Waffle Western sounds good. Where you are is called a Mudpie Western. What would that be? Quigley Down Under?

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