Reviews: Funand Fancy Free

Good in parts

The film can be described as two seperate parts. The first has Jiminy Cricket return, discussing to the audience about having a "Fun and Fancy Free" life, a statement that in all respects seems hollow but allows him to monologue for a good few minutes in a setting never elaborated on. He then finds a stuffed bear and a doll, and plays them a record to make them feel better. This joke is weak, and the record succeeding to make them feel better makes very little sense.

The record he plays is Bongo, narrated by a woman whose name I forget. The story is ridiculously cliché, with several of the segments forgettable and unhelpful to the story. The action is clunky and cheesy, and the animation is subpar. The character design is also inconsistent, Bongo and the girl bear being smaller than the others. While Lumpjaw was humorous in how he travelled, his design was less threatening than could be desired, and he failed to really put up much of a fight against Bongo during the climax. Ultimately, this section had a lot lacking.

The second half has Jiminy find an invitation to a birthday party, which brings up a plot hole as only two human beings are actually present, one being a little girl. Where are her parents? The other somehow controls the two puppets and voices them, telling the story of Jack and the Beanstalk with Mickey, Donald and Goofy. This story does help fix a few problems with the original, such as stealing the magic harp made into rescuing and the heroes forced up the beanstalk instead of climbing it. The puppet Charlie gave this troper many laughs, and the snarky banter he had with the puppeteer felt very welcome, even if not all the jokes made in the live action got a laugh. Willy the Giant was given a good character in his simple nature, although his power to change his form went under-utilised. His survival at the end was a nice, humorous surprise to end the film on.

Surprisingly subpar

This was very clearly made in a time of economical despair for Disney. This movie comprises two separate animated segments - "Bongo" and "Mickey and the Beanstalk", both originally intended to be full-fledged features but cut short due to restraints on money, resources and time. The music in both segments is increasingly average and forgettable. The "Bongo" segment is lightly enjoyable, but poorly animated compared to Disney's usual standards. To top it all off, it's pacing is mind-bogglingly dreadful (it drags on forever). Before we get to the next segment, there is an eerily strange live-action bit in which a ventriloquist who was popular in the 1940s ties the stories together with the help of a little girl and two of his (creepy) dolls. The movie proceeds into "Mickey and the Beanstalk", which is not all together terrible, but certainly not the brightest moment of Mickey, Donald and Goofy. Neither of these three is really used to their full potential, save for some slapstick here and there. Annoyingly enough, the ventriloquist, his dolls and the little girl keep commenting on the animated segment off screen. To say this really destroys whatever fun there may have been in the segment is putting it mildly. The "commentary" is incredibly annoying.

In the end, though in a historical perspective "Fun and Fancy Free" could gain our respect, I feel that its one of Walt Disney's lesser efforts, and certainly the weakest animated Disney movie of the 1940s. Go see it if you want to say you've "seen them all" - otherwise, there's little "fun" to be found, and you'll mostly get the feeling you're watching something that was thrown together and launched into cinemas as a desperate attempt to get some money during the tough wartime.