29 April 2013

Mickey Mouse Mondays: Week 8: The Karnival Kid

The Karnival Kid sees Mickey slinging hot dogs at a ramshackle fairground. He incurs the ire of a carnival barker whose showmanship is questioned by Mickey's unconsciously competitive and much more honest shouts. Mickey ends up moving his food cart elsewhere and he meets Minnie. The couple then play meet cute over a grill of living, dancing weiners. The short is slim on plot, almost entirely devoid of humor and unpleasant to listen to. The caterwauling that constitutes the two musical numbers is intentional but that does not make them any easier to stomach.

For the most part, The Karnival Kid is just plain weird. The aforementioned spotlight showered upon living hot dogs aside, a strange recurring gag throughout the short involves characters removing parts of their bodies or pulling back their skin. The first one to do it is Mickey, ever the gentlemen, who in lieu of tipping his cap to Minnie pulls off his ears along with the upper part of his cranium in deference to her. We even get a glimpse of the hollow hole inside his head. Shortly thereafter Minnie peels back her leg to retrieve money to purchase a hot dog. The gag is surreal and surprisingly disconcerting but the short doubles down and we get at least four such instances of casual mutilation, each version less effective than the last.

One promising element of the short is its inclusion of a larger character population. Earlier shorts, especially the last few, have seen mostly clones of Mickey and Pete as the tertiary characters. Here, the fairgoers represent the most diverse menagerie we have seen thus far. Of course, cats and mice still take center stage but we get glimpses of a monkey musician (whose beats sound surprisingly contemporary), as well as pigs, cows, and other barnyard animals. These characters have yet to be more fully integrated into the plots but their background appearances make the film's world feel that much larger and is a sign that the productions going forward will be richer.

Viewing Verdict: Avoidable

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