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Western Animation: Runaway Brain

"This isn't your father's Mickey and Minnie."
Leonard Maltin.

A 1995 installment of the Classic Disney Shorts, this Mickey Mouse short was first shown before A Kid in King Arthur's Court in theaters in the United States, while international theaters ran it right before A Goofy Movie. It was nominated for an Academy Award and shown in theaters again in 1997, this time accompanying Disney's Live-Action Adaptation of George of the Jungle, and then popped up during a marathon of Mickey Mouse shorts on the pre-Network Decay Disney Channel in 1999. It... probably won't be run on the Channel again.

The plot kicks off when Minnie gets upset with Mickey when he forgets the anniversary of their first date. Mickey tries to make it up to her by offering to take her miniature golfing, but she mistakenly believes he's taking her to Hawaii. To raise the $999.99 needed for that vacation, Mickey goes to apply for a job working for a mad scientist named Dr. Frankenollie. But he soon finds out that the job Frankenollie has planned for him was to switch the Mouse's brain with that of his giant monster, Julius (who resembles a cross between Pete and Frankenstein's monster). The result is Mickey's mind gets trapped in Julius's body, and Mickey's body turning into the creature you see here. To make matters worse, Frankenollie is killed during the experiment, and Julius-in-Mickey's-body goes after Minnie. Thus, Mickey-in-Julius's-body must chase the monster down and rescue his girlfriend again.

This short is a cult favorite among Disney fans (notably including Warren Spector, the head developer for Epic Mickey) and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, but with the sheer amount of Nightmare Fuel generated from this, the Disney Company largely prefers not to talk about it. They only mention it in history books about the company's animated films, and the only video releases it has ever been given were a Japan-only laserdisc and a U.K.-only videotape, both in 1996, and on the Walt Disney Treasures DVD set Mickey Mouse in Living Color Vol. 2.

Those of you who do not have the aforementioned DVD set can view the cartoon here (unless the uploader gets suspended), but don't blame us if you have any nightmares after watching it.

Funny enough, Disney eventually started acknowledging it again through merchandise, particularly its Vinylmation line, as well as Julius's Bonus Boss appearance in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance].

Tropes:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Minnie is shopping at a bikini shop when she first sees Monster!Mickey, and upon seeing the face he's making while she's holding up the swimsuit she's considering buying, she coyly reprimands, "Not till we're on the boat!"
  • Art Evolution: Lampshaded by Mickey when Julius looks at a 1928 photo of him.
    "Oh, that's old!"
  • But Thou Must:
    Dr. Frankenollie: Oh, don't be shy. It's not just a job. It's an adventure!
    Mickey: I hate adventure!
    Dr. Frankenollie: Perfect! You're hired.
  • Close Up On Head: Used for The Reveal when Mickey and Julius switch bodies.
  • Colossus Climb: Julius in Mickey's body does this on his body (with Mickey's mind) to exit the lab.
  • Darker and Edgier: It does clash with the family-friendly image Disney puts on the mouse. The characters to others might seem unsually not-so goody-good as thought of, and overall it's pretty quick-paced.
  • Didn't Want an Adventure: (see But Thou Must above)
  • Dies Wide Open: Frankenollie. In a Disney cartoon.
  • Disney Death: When Julius (back in his normal body) threw Mickey off of a skyscraper.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted with Julius.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Even after the nightmare that Mickey and Minnie went through, they do wind up celebrating their anniversary with their own makeshift trip to Hawaii.
  • Expy: Julius is pretty much a large Pete donning the look of Frankenstein's Monster; he even has a peg-leg.
    • Dr. Frankenollie strongly resembles Professors Ecks, Doublex and Triplex, other evil monkey scientists who similarly antagonized Mickey in Floyd Gottfredson's story Blaggard Castle. In the Fantagraphics Gottfredson Library volume with Blaggard Castle, Chris Bailey confirmed that he had Ecks in mind for the part until Executive Meddling lead to the creation of a new character.
    • The Mad Doctor also comes to mind when you notice that both of these character's plans involve switching a thinking body part - just to see the outcome.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Dr. Frankenollie is killed in the explosion caused by Mickey and Julius's body swap, and his body and bones crumble to dust.
  • Franken X: Dr. Frankenollie.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Zazu from The Lion King zips by twice in the short. There's also a pink slip with the initials J.K. (Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was booted out of Disney by the time the short was shown) included.
  • Grand Theft Me
  • If I Can't Have You: When Julius (back in his body) tries to kiss Minnie, she smacks him across the mouth. His response? Attempting to eat her.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: How Mickey's brain switched to another body with mind-switching machine and later back again with the electric wires.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Frankenollie.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Dr. Frankenollie is a monkey.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Mickey's body + Julius's brain = an unnaturally creepy character design. But it is also what grabbed people's attention and what brought them into either seeing the short out of curiosity. It also took takes away from the fact that the premise of the real Mickey still there but in another body.
    • Julius's body + Julius's brain = unusually intimidating as well. He actually looks pretty menacing.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The usually sweet-natured Minnie encourages Mickey to rip off Julius' ears off and Julius was still in Mickey's body when she said that.
  • Proportional Article Importance: How Minnie is misled into believing Mickey's taking her to Hawaii.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Mickey when he is introduced to Julius.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At the beginning, Mickey is playing a video game based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-specifically, a Mortal Kombat clone in which Dopey is fighting the evil witch. If only...
    • Frankenollie is named after two of Disney's "Nine Old Men", Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.
    • Julius himself is probably named after the cat from Alice's Adventures in Cartoonland, one of Walt Disney's very first forays into animation. Bonus points are given since Julius is a monster version of Mickey's nemesis Peg Leg Pete, who is also a bit of a cat.
    • One of the photos in Mickey's wallet is of him in Steamboat Willie, and he also whistles the same song from Steamboat Willie as he's walking up to the laboratory.
    • When Mickey arrives at the laboratory, the shot mirrors Father Merrin arriving at Regan Macneil's house in The Exorcist.
    • Mickey subduing Julius is similar to when he defeated the giant in The Brave Little Tailor.
  • Skyward Scream
  • Wilhelm Scream: During Mickey's video game.
  • Voices Are Mental


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alternative title(s): Runaway Brain
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