1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews 6-7 - Saludos Amigos & The Three Caballeros

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Disney Animation Reviews 6-7 - Saludos Amigos & The Three Caballeros

Disney Movie Review: 6-7/53 - Saludos Amigos & The Three Caballeros
Ryan Dosier - The Disney Movie Review for today will be a little different as I watch and review two films at once. This is the period in Disney animation history where they made cheap, harmless, “package films” in order to compensate for the lack of money coming into the studio before and during World War II.

The first two of these films, Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944), were made as part of Walt Disney and the US Government’s “good neighbor” mission to South America. The two films (for the most part) highlight and showcase South American culture with glorious Disney animation via established Disney characters such as Donald Duck and Goofy.

At only 42 minutes, Saludos Amigos is the shortest Disney animated feature by quite a bit and it is also one of the weakest. It makes for an odd addition to the Disney Animated Feature canon since at least a third of the film is live action framing sequences. Of the animated sequences present, two star Donald Duck, one stars a plane named Pedro, and one stars Goofy. Surprisingly, this film is very respectful of Latin American culture, using actual South American voice actors and artists for the film. The character of Jose Carioca is the film’s smartest character, showing Donald the colorful wonders of Brazil. Donald and Jose make a fun team playing off of Donald’s misunderstandings and Jose’s snappy accent.

The undeniable highlight of Saludos Amigos is the Goofy short “Gallopin’ Gaucho” which sees Goofy hilariously become a cowboy in Mexico. It is very reminiscent of Goofy’s classic “How To” cartoon shorts in all the best ways. This is where the animation is most impressive as Goofy and his horse try to hunt an ostrich. The animation is not only beautiful, but when it is presented in slow motion it is incredibly hilarious. It allows viewers to truly appreciate the time and skill the Disney team puts into every drawing.

The Three Caballeros is incredibly disjointed compared to Saludos Amigos. While the film is fun, colorful, and lively, there is very little narrative thread holding it together. It is a true package film, with a cartoon about a penguin, an overly-long number about “Baia,” and a 25 minute tour through Mexico. There are some truly fun moments with Donald, Jose, and Panchito, the fiery Mexican chicken, especially when they perform the titular song “The Three Caballeros.” The colors are vibrant, the animation is gorgeous, and the song is sheer fun.

But once the film goes off on a trip through Mexico, where Donald flirts with girls at a beach, dances with girls at a party, and chases girls through weird, colorful musical numbers (rivaling Dumbo's Pink Elephants) the film loses its footing and narrative thread completely. The Three Caballeros becomes an outlandish, bizarre musical for the last ten minutes and it just doesn’t work. Perhaps if the focus shifted back to the character interactions between Donald, Jose, and Panchito it could have worked, but the characters are tossed aside for odd live-action mixes and forgettable music.

Walt Disney’s package films were necessary for the company to stay afloat during World War II, but unfortunately they just can’t reach the high standards previously set by Disney’s films. Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros have their moments, but on the whole they are unfortunately subpar and downright boring.

Saludos Amigos - 2/5 Baby Biplanes

The Three Caballeros - 2/5 Snappy Sarapes

The Mickey Mindset, mickeymindset@gmail.com

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