Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 25, 2006)
Disney changes the names of their cartoon compilations more often than I change my underwear. Funny Factory is the newest in a run of hour-long collections. Volume One stars Mickey Mouse and includes shorts that have already appeared in the two Mickey Mouse in Living Color “Walt Disney Treasures” sets.
For each short, I’ll offer the year in which it was produced and the name of its director. I’ll also provide a quick synopsis of the cartoon plus my number grade for each one done on a scale of 1 to 10.
Mickey and the Seal (1948, Charles A. Nichols): Mickey visits a seal park, and a little seal stows away to come home with him. Many later Mickey shorts really focus on other characters, and that occurs for “Seal”, as it features Pluto much of the time. The seal cranks up the cuteness factor, which could have been a problem but doesn’t interfere too badly. This is a likable short, though not one that stands out as particularly memorable. 6/10.
Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip (1940, Clyde Geronimi): Mickey tries to take a train trip, but Conductor Pete refuses to allow Pluto onboard. Mickey attempts to sneak his pooch onto the train. The story leads to some good conflict, and it’s nice to see Mickey take an active role in his own cartoon. 7/10.
Moose Hunters (1937, Ben Sharpsteen): Mickey, Donald and Goofy head to the woods to kill a moose. One of this collection’s sillier shorts, we see all the nutty attempts the guys make to succeed. This provides a few nice sight gags, but I wouldn’t call “Hunters” anything special. 6/10.
Mickey's Parrot (1938, Bill Roberts): When a parrot seeks shelter in Mickey’s house, the Mouse mistakes the bird for a vicious criminal. This short goes with a pretty odd concept, and it exploits it fairly well. At least Mickey gets a fair amount of screen time; while Pluto gets more than a few moments, the short allows the Mouse to become more proactive than usual. 7/10.
The Pointer (1939, Clyde Geronimi): Mickey tries to train Pluto to be a hunting dog. And he does so in a rather nasty manner, I must say! Actually, Mickey doesn’t berate Pluto for too long, but it seems awkward and out of character. Nonetheless, the short has some amusing moments and works fine. 7/10.
Magician Mickey (1937, David Hand): Donald heckles Mickey as the Mouse attempts to perform a magic act. And he does so in a rather effective manner, I must say! This package’s best short by far, “Magician” becomes almost surreal as it presents many inventive ways for Donald and Mickey to tangle. It’s a creative, delightful hoot. 10/10.
Tugboat Mickey (1940, Clyde Geronimi): Mickey, Donald and Goofy attempt to take their tugboat to rescue a ship but their boat fights back at them. Perhaps anything less than brilliant would be a letdown after the wonderful “Magician”, but I do think “Tugboat” is fairly mediocre. It offers a moderate amount of amusement but never really escalates into anything more. 6/10.
(Note – “Tugboat” might be funnier if you watch with subtitles activated. That’s because the people who wrote them had trouble understanding Donald. For instance, “well I’ll be dog-goned!” turns into “that’s a good job!”)
R'coon Dawg (1951, Charles A. Nichols): Mickey and Pluto try to hunt a raccoon. The cutesiest of this DVD’s shorts, “Dawg” is also the worst. It repeats the theme of “Pointer” but lacks much bite. 4/10.