Although it would have helped if the actual film lived up to it.
- Before I start this review, let me ask you something: how many of you guys have seen Mickey and the Beanstalk? Well it actually came from this movie, and to the 90% of you who didn’t know that, there’s a good reason why we thought it was a standalone short like The Prince and the Pauper. Fun & Fancy Free is probably not the worst of the WWII-era films, but it’s easily the most poorly structured, and is definitely not very fun or whatever “fancy free” means.
- The film is basically two shorts loosely connected through Jiminy Cricket as he explores houses and runs into those tales because…he’s Jiminy Cricket I guess. Actually, aside from maybe due to his popularity, I’m not sure why Jiminy is in this movie considering he contributes practically nothing, even by host standards.
- The first short starts when Jiminy enters an animated house and ends up playing a track where a woman narrates the tale of Bongo the Bear – which is a tale about a circus bear who runs off to the wild due to all the mistreatment he gets from his human handlers and ends up falling in love with a female bear. However, he’s not aware that in the corner of the woods he’s in, bears slap the shit out of each other to show expression. And to be honest, I don’t get that either, as it’s just a 40s version of when girls in harem anime or One Piece beat the shit out their loved male ones. Hell, I didn’t think it was funny when people showed love to Plucky from Tiny Toons by dropping an anvil on him.
- Anyways, after Bongo’s love interest accidentally slaps a big rival bear and leaves our circus protagonist even more heartbroken, he conveniently runs into the other bears singing a song about how a slap means affection, causing him to realize his mistake and beat the shit out of the bigger rival with his circus antics. Said scene is kinda amusing, even though I call bullshit that the big dude can take that much damage, and I would have liked Bongo to suffer some pain as well.
- After that short ends (yeah there’s really nothing more to it than that), Jiminy gets an invitation to a party at Edgar Bergen’s house, causing him to jump off to a live-action segment where the famed ventriloquist tells the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, except with Jack replaced by everyone’s favorite Disney trio: Mickey, Donald, and Goofy.
- Aside from how there’s only a singing magic harp who’s not on the giant’s side this time, along with the giant being able to transform into anything he wants (which he never uses for anything useful I might add), there’s nothing that really stands out about it. The Disney trio are pretty much just their usual selves, and the story doesn’t add anything all that unique to the original source like, say, Muppets Christmas Carol.
- It also doesn’t help that Bergen and his puppets constantly interrupt the tale in order to convey unnecessary narration or take a break from a very short tale that’s not the least bit complicated. I mean c’mon. It’s Jack and the Fucking Beanstalk. Not Lawrence of Arabia. Let Mickey’s antics speak for themselves.
- After the tale is over, the puppets cry that the giant is dead with Bergen assuring him that his tale was fictional, only for the giant to show up asking whether anyone has seen Mickey. Bergen faints, the puppets say they haven’t seen him, the giant leaves, Jiminy does fuck all, the credits roll, and I wonder what the fuck I just saw.
- As you can probably guess from my description, Fun & Fancy Free’s main problem is that it’s just things happening. Or to be more accurate, it feels like I watched the middle episode of a TV show that allows lengths of more than an hour. And it doesn’t help that the two halves of the episode couldn’t be more separate if they tried. Like how is one section animated and the other live-action? And what’s the point of Bongo sharing screen time with Mickey Mouse?
- Well okay, we all know what really happened. They planned both shorts as full-length films, WWII got in the way, so they ended up making this. But if you didn’t look that up and just judged the film on its own merits, you would have no idea what the big picture is. The skits are plain, the connection between them is non-existent, and nothing about it screams theatrical whatsoever. There’s a reason most people don’t know this film exists, and I doubt my review is going to help matters by even a smidgen.
- All in all, Fun & Fancy Free does not live up to its title in the least. If you want to watch this stuff, I recommend just seeing them in short format where Bergen is replaced by that Drake Duck dude. Last I recall, at least he lets the animation speak for itself.
- Looking forward to getting out of this era of Disney films soon.
- I wonder if the giant is even capable of morphing into something tiny.