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Western Animation / Runaway Brain

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"The pace, the humor, and the kinetic animation of the leading characters all remind us that this isn't your father's Mickey and Minnie."
Leonard Maltin, introducing the short on 'Mickey Mouse in Living Color Vol. 2

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' 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 of 1995, 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 physical 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. The short was adapted into a French comic book, which was localized in 2004.

Perhaps because Disney has loosened up slightly when it comes to Mickey's characterization, the company eventually started acknowledging it again through merchandise, particularly its Vinylmation line, as well as Julius's Superboss appearance in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]. Movies Anywhere posted it online in August 2015, as an exclusive addition to a compilation of shorts from the 2000s and 2010s.


  • Affably Evil: Crazy and evil though he is, Dr. Frankenollie is pretty friendly.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Minnie first sees Julius-Mickey while she's looking for a bikini in a shop. When she sees the face Julius-Mickey's makes while she's holding up the swimsuit she considers buying, she coyly reprimands, "Not 'till we're on the boat!"
  • Angry Collar Grab: Happens when the Mickey-minded monster seizes Frankenollie by his lapels and demands that he reverse the process.
  • Art Evolution: Lampshaded by Mickey when Julius looks at a 1928 photo of him.
    Mickey: Oh, that's old!
  • Big Bad: Dr. Frankenollie can be viewed this way, considering that he was responsible for the nightmare Mickey was forced to go through.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: When Mickey Mouse goes to Dr. Frankenollie's house he gets sucked down a hole into the doctor's lab, There is a blink and you'll miss it moment where you see a Pink slip with the initials JK on it. This is a reference to the firing of Jeffrey Katzenberg from Disney in 1995.
  • Brain Theft: Dr Frakenollie does this to Mickey so he can switch his brain with Julius'.
  • The Cameo: Zazu, of all characters, makes not one, but two, very brief appearances. The first comes when, as Mickey is being sucked down the trap hole portal, Zazu is also getting sucked down amidst the debris. The second comes later when, after Mickey and Julius' brains are switched back to normal, Julius roars at Mickey, and Zazu is seen flying out of Julius' mouth.
  • 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 might seem unusually not-so-goody-good as thought of, and overall (especially for a little kid) it's pretty damn terrifying.
  • Didn't Want an Adventure:
    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!
  • Dies Wide Open: Frankenollie. In a Disney cartoon.
  • Disney Death: When Julius (back in his normal body) threw Mickey off of a skyscraper. He comes back a moment later, however.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted with Julius. After Mickey ties him up, he slips and falls off the skyscraper, but the rope he's tied up with gets snagged on the hand of the hula dancer on the billboard, leading to Julius rolling up and down like a giant yo-yo instead.
  • Dr. Fakenstein: If the first part of his name as well as his role didn't already make it obvious, Dr. Frankenollie.
  • 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.
  • Eat the Camera: As Mickey is sucked down the trap door, the camera goes through his screaming mouth. This happens again when he first spots Julius and the camera zooms in on his screaming face.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Julius is absolutely enormous, with his head alone being as big as Mickey and Minnie's whole bodies.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: When Julius' mind is transferred into Mickey's body, the mouse's ears become tattered, his face turns pale grey, his eyes turn yellow and bloodshot, and his teeth turn into fangs. Conversely, when Mickey's mind is transferred into Julius' body the monster becomes less monstrous, with a peachy muzzle, white sclerae in his eyes, and blunt teeth.
  • Exact Words: Dr. Frankenollie's ad says he'd pay whoever was willing to do mindless work. Mickey learns too late that the "mindless work" in question was giving his brain to a monster.
  • Expy: Julius is pretty much a large Pete donning the look of Frankenstein's Monster; he even has a peg-leg. This was driven home in that while Mickey was in Julius' body, he has the hippo-like molars that Pete also possesses in almost all of his appearances.
    • Dr. Frankenollie is the third in a line of mind-targeting mad scientists. It starts with Dr. XXX from The Mad Doctor, who inspired Professors Ecks, Doublex, and Triplex, a trio of evil monkey scientists who antagonized Mickey in Floyd Gottfredson's "Blaggard Castle". In the Fantagraphics Gottfredson Library volume containing the comic story, Chris Bailey confirmed that he had Ecks in mind for the part until Executive Meddling led to the creation of a new character. Frankenollie has since (likely) been the inspiration for Doctor Flor Winx from "The Stuff Of Dreams".
  • 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.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: What Julius is.
  • Franken-X: Dr. Frankenollie is the name of the mad scientist, and the monster is named simply Julius.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Mickey switches brains with a giant Frankenstein monster named Julius.
  • 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.
  • Futile Hand Reach: In the climax, Julius knocks Minnie off the building, and Mickey cries out Minnie's name as he tries (seemingly in vain) to reach out to her. Averted, however, in that he does manage to grab her hand in the nick of time.
  • Grand Theft Me: After Mickey and Julius switch brains, Julius in Mickey's body runs off after learning about Minnie and tries to win her affection.
  • 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.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro Pay: Mickey misreads "Lobotomy" in the address "1313 Lobotomy Lane" as "Lobo-TOE-me".
  • Known by the Postal Address: Mickey goes to Dr. Frankenollie's laboratory for "a mindless day's work" at 1313 Lobotomy Lane.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: How Mickey's brain switched to another body with the mind-switching machine and later back again with the electric wires.
  • Mad Scientist: In combination with Maniac Monkeys. Dr. Frankenollie is eager and energetic and a few watts short of a lightning bolt. He has so few safety features in place that the experiment fries him.
  • Maniac Monkeys: In combination with Mad Scientist: Dr. Frankenollie, a scientist chimpanzee, is clearly not all that mentally stable, considering how eager he is to switch Mickey's brain with Julius's, even if Frankenollie would be killed in the process.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Julius and Frankenollie both show a lot of sharp, pointed teeth. When Julius' mind is transferred into Mickey's body, this trait carries over with him.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Mickey's body + Julius' brain = an unnaturally creepy character design. But it is also what grabbed people's attention and sparked their curiosity. It also allows the character to be as depraved as you like, because you can tell at a glance that's not the real Mickey Mouse.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The usually sweet-natured Minnie encourages Mickey to rip 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 is taking her to Hawaii.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Runaway train".
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Mickey when he is introduced to Julius.
    Dr. Frankenollie: Oooh, I like it when they squeal.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At the beginning, Mickey is playing a video game based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - specifically, a Street Fighter clone in which Dopey is fighting the evil witch and doing Liu Kang's Bicycle Kick. "Whistle While You Work" from the film is briefly heard in the score when Mickey sees Dr. Frankenollie's ad.
    • 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. The song also plays over the end credits.
    • 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 "Brave Little Tailor".
  • Skyward Scream: Mickey does this as Frankenollie puts on the helmets.
  • Take That!: As Mickey is being sucked down through the trap door tube, in a don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it moment, one of the pieces of debris in the tube is a pink slip with the initials "J.K." written on it, for "Jeffrey Katzenberg". After Frank Wells was killed in a helicopter crash in 1994, Katzenberg sought Wells' job, but he was at such professional and personal odds with Michael Eisner and Roy E. Disney that he was ultimately forced out of the studio at the time of the cartoon's production.
  • Test Subject for Hire: Mickey answers an advertisement from Dr. Frankenollie in order to get the money he needs to take Minnie on a cruise to Hawaii, and finds out too late what the ad is really about.
  • Typecasting: Andreas Deja, best known as the hand behind such villainous characters as Gaston, Jafar, and Scar, animates both Julius and Julius-in-Mickey's-body.
  • Unflattering ID Photo: After Mickey-in-Julius' body escapes the Shackle Seat Trap, he tries to convince the monster that the mind-swap process must be undone. The monster looks at an ID card in Mickey's wallet, which shows Mickey in a frame from Steamboat Willie from 1928. "Oh, haha," says an embarrassed Mickey, "that's old."
  • Voices Are Mental: As with most brain-swapping depictions in fiction, the victims sound like the person whose brain they now have.
  • Wilhelm Scream: During Mickey's video game, heard when the witch kills Dopey with a poisoned apple.
  • X-Ray Sparks: As the mind-swap process begins, Mickey's skeleton is briefly revealed as he gets zapped. This happens again when Mickey and Julius fall on some electrical wires and get zapped as their brains are switched back.