Three Caballeros (1944) Review — Duck Hormones Run Amuck

Down Donald. Down.

  • Three Caballeros is sort of the much better-known spiritual sequel to Saludos Amigos in that it was also created as a sort of goodwill message towards Latin America, but a lot more effort was put into it. It’s still a little heavy on the edutainment and there’s not much of a story, but there’s that catchy title song and some of the best TV animation you’ll ever see in your life. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Donald Duck as your star…or so you’d think.
  • You see, aside from the framing device of Donald opening up birthday gifts, the whole film is very unfocused regarding how it wants to convey its goodwill message. The first act basically tells two shorts whose connection to Latin American culture is so loose it might as well have not had it at all. One is about a penguin trying to get to warmer climate and the other is about a boy riding a flying donkey.

Uh, I don’t think saws work that way

  • Both shorts are cute and all, but they’re the only ones in the movie, which makes me question the point of it all. I mean imagine if you were watching Moana, but just before she could set out on her journey, the plot cooks up an arbitrary excuse to get her to watch two of the recent Disney short collections. As good as Paperman is, you wouldn’t try to cram it into the narrative about a Polynesian princess braving the high seas.
  • Well okay, I’m not telling the entire truth. There are five shorts after those two, but they all involve Donald, Jose the Parrot, and Panchito the Rooster going to live-action segments of Latin America and interacting with the culture whilst Donald tries to get the local women to have sex with him in various ways.
  • The first one involves Jose coming back and taking Donald out to samba. The second one involves Panchito showing up and after singing the Three Caballeros song, convinces Donald to partake in breaking a pinata. The third one involves the group going on a magic carpet ride to the beaches where Donald tries his hand at the whole Persona 3-esque “Operation Babe Hunt” thing. The fourth one involves Donald going gaga over some famous singer at the time named Dora Luz whilst she sings. And the last one involves Donald going into a crazy fever dream sequence, dancing with another famous-at-the-time woman, and his friends annoying him at inappropriate moments before concluding with a fireworks-filled finale.

Shut up and dance with me

  • The best way I can describe Three Caballeros is “visual noise”, because all the wacky animation pretty much just exists in order to have a visual party or celebrate Latin American culture without any grit to it whatsoever. You’re obviously not going to expect anything deep from a movie centered on Donald, but let’s be honest: this WWII-era of films was not exactly known for animated storytelling. It existed solely to create animation during hard times with the occasional good intention that doesn’t necessarily translate to entertainment. I mean who in this day and age knows any of these famous people? In fact, who besides the country’s residents knows any Latin American celebrities in general?
  • In terms of watching this movie just for the visuals though, Three Caballeros isn’t bad. I’ve heard that people get tired of watching this movie after a while, but given how I’ve sat through visual noise films that go on for two hours (Redline for example) along with all the Netflix binge-watching I’ve been doing as of late, I could digest Three Caballeros fine. However, I do agree that Donald’s search for human pussy gets old pretty fast, although it wasn’t as overlong as I remembered when I saw the film as a kid. And the switch from the two shorts that have almost nothing to do with Donald to the next five that have everything to do with Donald was a bit abrupt.

It must hurt to get stepped on by those cacti Donalds

  • Of course, even by those terms, there are much better alternatives to watch, including from Disney themselves. So unless you’re a big Latin American culture buff, love that catchy song that was composed back when “gay” meant “happy”, or just want to be a completionist, there’s really no need to see Three Caballeros over them. Animation buffs might appreciate the masterful techniques from the impressive speed to the high-quality line work, but I doubt they’ll put this film on multiple times when they could just watch Fantasia instead.
  • I did like it more than Saludos Amigos, but Three Caballeros still carries a lot of the same flaws in addition to the latter’s structure. As such, if your problem with that movie goes to its very core, this better executed version of it isn’t really going to impress either.

Minor Quips

  • I know these shorts have names, but I doubt anyone cares enough about this movie to bother wanting to retain that knowledge.
  • Man the early films that mixed animation with live-action looked awkward. I never once believed Donald was actually there when the girls ran away from him.

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