21 January 2013

Mickey Mouse Mondays: Week 3: The Barn Dance

The Barn Dance was the first short produced after Steamboat Willie, meaning it was the second film to be produced with a synchronized soundtrack. This is evident from the short's subject matter which is mostly set at the titular party, featuring a trio of barnyard animals playing a hootenanny version of "Pop Goes the Weasel". Unfortunately, the film does little more with its soundtrack besides an extended bit of Pete and Mickey vying for Minnie's attention by honking on their vehicle's respective horns, (Mickey's is a borrowed duck).

Minnie comes off quite poorly in the short, her character bouncing between her two suitors at the very moment one of their prospects change. At first, she gladly climbs aboard Pete's flashy automobile, a more distinctive ride than Mickey's horse-driven cart, but as soon as the car breaks down she jumps ship for Mickey's affections. Arriving at the barn she first dances with Mickey until he proves he has no moves by stepping not only on her feet but also her elastic legs. She then waltzes with Pete until Mickey concocts a scheme to give himself a lighter stride by inserting a helium balloon in his shorts.

This bit of animation with a gracefully floating Mickey is easily the highlight of the film. The action is composed perfectly, with the mouse's slow aerial arcs providing a dreamlike quality to the scene. His subsequent deflation courtesy of a nail thrown by Pete comes with shock as the character is instantly suffused again with horrible gravity, plummeting crushingly to the floor, where he weeps as his girl leaves with the other man. Unfortunately this final sequence is the only truly successful section of an otherwise forgettable film.

Viewing Verdict: Avoidable

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