Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cartoon a Day: Mickey's Polo Team

Mickey's Polo Team
Directed by David Hand
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - Mickey Mouse in Living Color

Mickey Mouse shorts aren't usually laugh-out-loud funny. Don't get me wrong, I love Mickey cartoons, but it's just not the same style as say the Looney Tunes. "Mickey's Polo Team," however, is a very funny short.

Mickey's polo team consists of Donald Duck, Goofy (called "The Goof" here), and the Big Bad Wolf. They are up against four of Hollywood's top comedians of the time, Harpo Marx, Charlie Chaplin, and Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy.

As the short begins, you start to think it's just an exercise in having celebrity caricatures in animation. Many studios featured cartoon versions of celebrities in their shorts at some point. The celebrity caricatures are great, but that's not all there is. This turns into an action packed short.

Donald Duck served as the major source for comedy in many Mickey shorts, and this is no exception. He contends with a mule and Harpo in various scenes. One of the sequences with Harpo is a bit unusual as it's a rare example of somewhat crude humor in a Disney short. Never would you expect to see a joke where a boxing glove seems to pop out of Harpo's rear end and punch Donald in the face under Walt's watchful eye, but it happens here.

Donald has his moments, but I find the Big Bad Wolf to be the most interesting character on Mickey's team. He has some great moments including huffing and puffing and blowing the polo ball across the field.

The animation is excellent. There are several moments where the animators play with perspective to create some really interesting shots. It all contributes to a fun short, even if you don't know how to play polo.

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