Judge Clark Douglas is not laughing.
O, Say Can You BLAM! By the Dawn's Early BLAM!
On the surface, Have a Laugh: Volume 1 looks perfectly innocent. A collection of remastered vintage cartoons starring classic Disney characters? What could possibly go wrong?
Funny you should ask.
Let's begin with the positive: there are indeed five remastered vintage cartoons included on this disc, all of which are at least pretty good. Nothing else I may say in a moment can change that fact. Here's what you get.
"Mickey and the Seal": Mickey goes to the zoo to visit some seals, a baby seal follows him home, and much chaos ensues as Pluto attempts to convince Mickey a baby seal is wandering through the house.
"Winter Storage": Mischievous chipmunks Chip n' Dale attempt to steal Donald Duck's vast supply of acorns. I have no idea why Donald is so interested in storing acorns, but to each his own.
"Lonesome Ghosts": A bunch of playful ghosts decide to hire some paranormal investigators (Mickey, Donald, and Goofy) to search a haunted house. The ghosts then proceed to scare the pants off the investigators.
"How to Hook Up Your Home Theater": A recently-released theatrical short (presented in widescreen, unlike the rest of the shorts) in which Goofy unsuccessfully attempts to set up a home theatre system. This short is making its premiere on DVD. For some reason, it debuted in theatres in front of National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
"Food for Feudin'": Pluto tries to hide a bone inside Chip n' Dale's tree. Bad idea.
Okay. These shorts run 6-9 minutes each, and are reasonably entertaining. However, someone apparently decided that they were simply too long and too dull for many kids, so each of these shorts is accompanied by an alternate short version, which presents the basic story in as abbreviated a manner as possible (most run around 3 minutes). Things certainly move faster (even though most of these cartoons are already pretty manic), but the sense of pacing and comic timing is simply ruined. The new voiceover work and freshly-recorded music on these short versions is kind of distracting when contrasting with the vintage imagery, but that's nothing in contrast to the sheer damage the merciless editing does to the overall quality of these cartoons. There's no way that kids will find these versions more entertaining than the original versions. Unfortunately, these are the selling point of the set, which mostly offers previously available cartoons.
Disney saves the worst for last, offering three "Blam!" shorts and one "Re-Micks." The "Blam!" shorts are essentially 90-second highlight reels of violence from assorted classic cartoons, with The World's Most Obnoxious Narrator shouting the phrase "BLAM!" every time a character runs into a tree or gets run over by a snowball or some such thing. It would be brilliant if those responsible had satirical intentions, but I fear these are meant to be taken at face value. I don't think I've ever seen a form of children's entertainment so blatantly condescending as the "Blam!" shorts. As for the "Re-Micks," it's a vintage black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoon remixed to the strains of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" (Goofy plays the role of Freddie Mercury). *sigh*
At least the unedited shorts look and sound pretty good, suffering from very few scratches and flecks while offering clean audio. Alas, everything other than "How to Hook Up Your Home Theatre" is available in superior DVD collections, so unless you desperately need the new Goofy short I strongly advise you to turn elsewhere for animated Disney fun. Updating the characters and giving them new animated adventures is one thing—messing with the old stuff is another. Don't support this shameless, crass attempt to make perfectly enjoyable vintage cartoons "relevant" for modern kiddies.
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