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Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 12
Best Pals: Mickey & Pluto DVD Review

Buy Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 12 - Best Pals: Mickey & Pluto from Amazon.com Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 12 - Best Pals: Mickey & Pluto
DVD Details

Running Time: 55 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio), Dolby Digital Mono (English, French)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned

DVD Release Date: April 11, 2006
Originally Released Between 1942 and 1952
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
White Keepcase with Side Snaps

By Aaron Wallace

Classic Cartoon Favorites might be Disney's most aptly-titled DVD line yet. Each installment delivers one hour's worth of Disney animated short subjects tied together by a theme that can't always be considered cohesive. That theme generally involves the appearance of Disney's most marketable characters from the 1940s and '50s. Of course, the Walt Disney Treasures series still rules the roost when it comes to collecting Disney's classic shorts, but those are more expensive and difficult to find, which probably explains the CCF line's soaring popularity.

Like the Treasures sets, these releases come in groupings of three or four at a time and this Tuesday brings the fourth wave, made up of three friendship-centered compilations. Disney's original sweetheart couplings (Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy) each get their own Best Pals release, but the relationship highlighted in the twelfth volume is a little more platonic: Mickey and Pluto. Man is supposed to be a dog's best friend, but Pluto wound up with a mouse. Lucky for him, Mickey is of the anthropomorphic variety of rodent and a pretty neat (though stern) owner.

The video quality of "Pueblo Pluto" is clearly lacking. Pluto feels a little guilt.

"Best Pal - Pluto" might have been a better title for this one. Mickey appears in only half of the included cartoons and he figures prominently in only one. Pluto, however, is not only the main character in each, he's also named in every title. Granted, the reticent pet hasn't yet received his own Classic Cartoon Favorites disc, but it seems that consumers might expect a DVD advertising two "Best Pals" to actually show off a bit of their friendship. That couldn't have been too hard to achieve, given that the dog and mouse made so many appearances together in their theatrical heyday. That's the kind of thing that shows up on each CCF release and leads one to wonder if these DVDs really are produced within an afternoon.

Fortunately, the misleading packaging is the disc's only real point of complaint. The content is unsurprisingly excellent, as is typically the case with Walt Disney's vintage animation (though I'd classify Pluto's stints as the least interesting of the early starring characters). Each of the included cartoons are listed and summarized below, followed by a look at the technical merits (and sometimes lack thereof) of the disc.

Don't mess with Pluto. Figaro shows up to match wits with Pluto in "Cat Nap Pluto." Mickey throws Pluto a party.

"Pluto's Housewarming" (1947) (8:11)

Pluto's moving into his new house, but the arrival of other animals to share in the housewarming doesn't sit too well with the bewildered hound.

"Pluto and the Armadillo" (1943) (6:46)

The 1940s saw a lot
of globetrotting on the part of the Disney cartoon gang, with this cartoon being part of the vacation. Mickey and Pluto head to South America, where Pluto's altercation with an armadillo serves as the short's focus.

"Cat Nap Pluto" (1948) (6:44)

It's Pinocchio's Figaro -- not Mickey -- who co-stars with Pluto in this short. The kitten wars with Pluto over sleeping privileges as the two engage in a number of amusing tactics. Stereotypes show up here as they often did in the 1940s, but Leonard Maltin isn't on hand to explain them away here as he so often is in the Treasures sets. This release marks this cartoon's first time on DVD, a fact that should please those clamoring for Figaro cartoons.

"Pluto's Party" (1952) (6:34)

Easily the best cartoon on the disc and one of Disney's more outstanding cartoons in general, "Pluto's Party" also happens to be the cartoon that best highlights Mickey and Pluto's friendship out of the eight made available on the disc. Mickey's holding a birthday party for Pluto, who is really only concerned with his birthday cake, but he has to deal with a squad of uninvited but enthusiastic guests before he can sample it.

Pluto, Jr.'s got a ring worm. Pluto gets slick with a fledgling bird. Pluto is flustered inside his own bizarre dream.

"Pluto, Junior" (1942) (6:27)

Pluto isn't often thought of as a father, but he does indeed guard a young pup version of himself in this short. Pluto, Jr. is a rambunctious tyke, a quality that's presently frustrating Pluto, who has only sleep on his mind.

"Pluto's Fledgling" (1948) (6:31)

Having just been a dad in the last short, Pluto's a little more motherly in this cartoon, in which he helps a fledgling bird with its first flight.

"Plutopia" (1951) (7:58)

Pluto has a bizarre dream in which he has a butler, but that's a bad thing. That sounds strange, but then, this isn't your ordinary butler.

"Pueblo Pluto" (1949) (7:13)

In an episode that's rather similar to "Pluto and the Armadillo," Mickey and Pluto are back in South America and Pluto's at odds with another animal: this time a bigger (and blue-er) dog. Unlike all the other cartoons here (with the exception of "Cat Nat Pluto"), this hasn't been released to a Treasures set yet, though both it and "Cat Nap" surely will in the months or years ahead. This one can, however, be found on the current DVD release of The Three Caballeros in addition to this disc.

Pluto tries his paw at flying in "Pluto's Fledgling." The Sand Man pays Pluto a visit.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Six of these eight shorts have previously appeared on one of the Treasures sets, where great efforts are generally taken to restore the video. Therefore, those six are in great shape; some look better than others, but all look really good. The same can't be said for "Cat Nap Pluto" (making its DVD debut here) and "Pueblo Pluto" (previously only available on The Three Caballeros' DVD). The former doesn't look bad but suffers from a plethora of visual anomalies that make it fall short of the typical Treasures quality. "Pueblo Pluto" is the worst looking of the bunch, where those same unwanted anomalies are joined by problems with faded color and tint.

Naturally, the audio comes by way of a mono track, and while their age is sometimes evident, the cartoons sound fine and don't give cause for complaints.

Pluto reluctantly takes a bath. Mickey & Pluto: best pals and awesome dancers.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and DESIGN

Eleven Classic Cartoon Favorites discs have come to the market completely free of bonus features, so far be it from Volume 12 to buck that trend. Disney apparently considers $10 or so to be a pretty good value for 55
minutes of classic cartoons and thus nothing else is offered. If that sounds overly critical, it's not meant to be. A sampling of cartoon shorts doesn't lend itself to supplemental material as well as a movie to begin with, not to mention that their inclusion would require borrowing from the Treasures sets, thereby lowering their value, or creating new material, resulting in higher CCF prices.

There is a pretty interesting slate of sneak peeks, though. The first set includes looks at The Little Mermaid: Special (read: "Platinum") Edition, Dumbo: Special Edition, The Fox and the Hound 2, and Little Einsteins: Team Up For Adventure. On the second page of the menu, one can also preview Leroy & Stitch, Brother Bear II, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure: Special Edition, and the upcoming Disney Princess Fairy Tales, which actually looks fairly promising.

Like most DVDs that Disney thinks will interest the youngest of audiences, this disc is "enhanced" with Disney's FastPlay, the annoying feature that ignores menu screens and plays previews and cartoon shorts just like a VHS. Fortunately, that can be turned off when the disc is inserted by just selecting the proper on-screen option and viewers can proceed to the main menu, which looks like that of the CCF releases that have preceded this. The cartoons can be selected individually or seen back-to-back via the "Play All" option.

Welcome to South America! There's Pluto again - notice there aren't many Mickey caps?

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Classic Cartoon Favorites is far from perfect, but at a really low price, it's not such a bad value even if the frills one might hope for just aren't there. The Mickey & Pluto disc suffers from a shortage of Mickey, rendering the title inaccurate, but still delivers nearly an hour of solid entertainment.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed April 11, 2006.