51 Days of Disney (Day 9): Fun and Fancy Free

Version watched: 2000 DVD release

Actually sitting down and watching Fun and Fancy Free is an interesting experience for me as even though I haven’t seen it more than three times (including this viewing), I am very familiar with Mickey and the Beanstalk. My family had that short and Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree on VHS, so they were something that were watched regularly when a VCR was hooked up at my house.

The film , being a package film, is a combination of two shorts: Mickey and the Beanstalk, as mentioned earlier, and Bongo the Bear. The movie also stars Jiminy Cricket as a narrator of sorts and he is what ties the shorts together along with some live action footage introducing the Mickey and the Beanstalk segment. This structure really works better than the ecclectic nature of Make Mine Music, as the shorter segments really didn’t feel like they had any time to breathe, so considering that each of Fun and Fancy Free’s shorts take up roughly half of the film, they feel much more developed.

Bongo the Bear is about a circus bear who runs away to a forest and finds love, but has to fight off a larger bear to keep it. This segment is really fun, mostly because of how freaking bizzarre it gets. Seriously, the love song sequence is just about as weird as Upendi from Lion King 2 and there is even some crazy spousal abuse square dancing that goes on later in the sequence. Also a bear that can rip trees in half vertically. I’m kind of glad I’m not making this stuff up. It’s too funny to not be true. Bongo was originally going to be a sequel to Dumbo, but the idea never panned out, the short still strongly resembles the style of Dumbo, so it is very easy to still make the connection.

Mickey and the Beanstalk is not the first time that Disney has done this story. A silent version was made by Walt during his pre-Disney Studios Laugh-o-Grams days, and there was even a Mickey Mouse short called Giantland that was very similar to the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.

After watching one of the most depressing birthday parties ever (seriously, it’s bad), the short opens on Happy Valley, which isn’t really having such a happy time at the moment. The magic harp that seems to control the weather, make water flow, and allow crops to grow was stollen by the giant, Willie (who some of you awesome readers may recognize as the Ghost of Christmas Present from Mickey’s Christmas Carol). Mickey, Donad, and Goofy were farmers who were affected by this sudden famine, but for some reason did not leave Happy Valley for greener pastures (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Mickey obtains some magical beans and the story of Jack and the Beanstalk continues as normal.

What makes this short so special is the humour contained in it. Some of the funniest moments ever in a Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or Goofy cartoon are in this single short. Goofy interacting with Willie the Giant’s has some of the best comic timing out of any of Goofy’s appearances and the scene where the beanstalk is growing is perfectly timed. This short also has some historical significance as it is the last time that Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse, he was replaced by the then head of the Sound Effects Department, Jimmy MacDonald.

Note, there are numerous versions of Mickey and the Beanstalk. The original is the best one, as all of the subsequent versions are edited in some way, most of them cutting down on some of the humour.

The success of this film finally gave the Disney Studios some money to work with and a number of non package films were put into production, but there are still two more package films coming. Luckily, the last one is easily the best one.


One response to this post.

  1. Okay, I have been reading the other reviews on this movie, and they all say things like "went on for too long"…"Way overhyped"…and things like that. I beg to differ. The two movies in this wonderful DVD, Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk, are two family classics. As a child, I watched these two movies (on VHS, of course) over and over and over again. Willy the Giant characterizes my childhood in three words…"Potroast! Chocolate potroast!" And now, I know for a fact that my two little brothers have memorized the whole movie of Mickey and the Beanstalk. I don’t want to ramble on forever, but I just want to say that these two are the best movies that I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot of movies.


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