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Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 10
Best Pals: Mickey & Minnie DVD Review

Buy Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 10 - Best Pals: Mickey & Minnie from Amazon.com Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 10 - Best Pals: Mickey & Minnie
DVD Details

Running Time: 57 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 1936 and 1950
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
White Keepcase with Side Snaps

Having already devoted volumes to landmark personalities, loose themes, and "holidays" (read: winter with a dash of Christmas), Disney's strong-selling Classic Cartoon Favorites series moves in this month's new wave to pairings. Under the banner "Best Pals", the three latest hour-long compilations each contain eight cartoons that are supposed to explore the more dynamic duos of classic Disney shorts. "Best Pals" might not be the most accurate way to fully define two of the three couples, whose romantic relationships and pursuits take them beyond mere friendship most of the time. Nonetheless, if Disney is to consider lovers "pals",
then who can argue that one of these discs be titled Volume 10 - Best Pals: Mickey & Minnie? Well, probably anyone who has sat down and watched the eight shorts of this particular review subject, only three of which actually contain both Mickey and Minnie.

Remarkably, a more accurate title for this DVD would have been "Figaro & Pluto: Cat and Dog Tails (Tales)" because the black kitten from Pinocchio and the irritable, frequently-seen hound figure more prominently in this collection than do their owners Mickey and Minnie, with each pet appearing in more shorts than Mickey does. Why didn't the disc's producers simply go this way and include the handful of other short films in which Figaro appeared? Well, obviously because that disc would be tougher to market and these Classic Cartoon Favorites are all about the bankability of the iconic stars their covers brightly display.

The three shorts which contain both Mickey and Minnie (Mickey's Rival, The Nifty Nineties, and Mickey's Delayed Date) do succeed in entertaining and living up to the expectations that the title brings. However, in addition to turning up on Mickey's Walt Disney Treasures tins, all three happen to have already appeared on a 2004 DVD release called Mickey and Minnie's Sweetheart Stories, which predated the studio's current fixation on low-priced cartoon compilations. Sweetheart Stories, perennially promoted for Valentine's Day, also contained five additional shorts documenting the romantic exploits of Donald and Pluto, and seems to have achieved the goal that 2/3rds of these new Classic Cartoon Favorites are aspiring to.

Figaro explains to Pluto who the intended recipient of "Pluto's Sweater" is. Mickey had a tough time getting to the dance, but Minnie loves his new look in "Mickey's Delayed Date."

The mix of Mickey/Minnie and otherwise unrelated Figaro and Pluto shorts may be well and good for those who are looking at this disc as one-time purchase, long-term babysitter. It's also fine for anyone who has decided the Classic Cartoon Favorites line is good for them and will buy each new entry so that the colorful spines line up and their affordable collection (which winds up charging quite a bit more per short than the superior Disney Treasures do) is complete. But for those Disney collectors who like to discern and exhibit some selectivity, this disc's strange sampling is a letdown in ways that a more carefully composed playlist would not have been.

Were the disc to have been more accurately titled and feature a selection of antics from Figaro and Pluto, it'd have worked well. Were the disc to have provided an hour of shorts featuring Mickey and Minnie together, it'd also be easy to label a success. The reason why it most likely doesn't go that route is that a majority of Minnie's appearances took place in the days of black & white. There haven't been very many black & white shorts to make this Classic Cartoon Favorites line and those that have have been unfortunately colorized. (Disney's studies most short-sightedly show that the demographic for these discs holds a disdain for black & white as well as widescreen works.) Colorization costs money and often doesn't look all that great.

The eight shorts here span from 1936 to 1950 and while the erratic, unfocused lineup can be faulted, the shorts themselves hold up fairly well. Here's a look at the individual cartoons:

Pluto and Figaro compete with each other in "First Aiders." "Bath Day" has worked Figaro into quite the fix. The gopher and Pluto square off in "Pluto and the Gopher."

"First Aiders" (1944) (7:32)

Pluto vies with Figaro to become the subject of Minnie's self-instructed nurse lessons. His success only leaves him splinted, bandaged, and at a disadvantage against Figaro when Minnie leaves the pair unsupervised to get more supplies. Needless to say, shenanigans ensue.

"Bath Day" (1946) (6:27)

Minnie, against some resistance, gets Figaro nicely cleaned up with bubble bath, a red bow, and a spray of kitty perfume. Not long after this, though, Figaro winds up among a pack of tough alley cats and must live down his pampered reputation.

"Pluto and the Gopher" (1950) (6:25)

The "Pluto vs. small, smart critter" formula is applied in precisely the way the title implies, with an elusive gopher raising the dog's temper and, in turn, many of Minnie's flowers. Not much changes when the chase moves indoors.

"Figaro and Frankie" (1947) (6:57)

Poor Figaro has it rough: Minnie's pet canary Frankie torments him. When the cat defends himself, Minnie supplies a thrashing both verbal and physical. Still, with the help of his shoulder spirits, Figaro seizes an opportunity to be heroic.

Note to self: try not to have Mortimer Mouse question you about your pants buttons. "The Nifty Nineties" depicts Mickey and Minnie as lovers in a different generation. Pluto isn't feeling the fuchsia threads, know what I'm sayin'?

"Mickey's Rival" (1936) (8:18)

Minnie's old sweetheart Mortimer Mouse shows up and vies for her attentions while intruding upon her picnic with Mickey. Mortimer proves to be a most formidable foe for his fellow mouse with his practical jokes and bull-taunting. This short has the most "classic" feel of any on the disc, perhaps in part because it is the oldest and longest on the disc. It introduces Mortimer (which, as widely known, was the original name Walt devised for Mickey), a character who was revisited earlier in this decade in original shorts created for "Mickey Mouse Works" and "House of Mouse."

"The Nifty Nineties" (1941) (7:23)

You won't find Crystal Pepsi, Tamagotchis, or the Backstreet Boys in this short because the title refers to the 1890s. Mickey and Minnie play basically themselves, but as citizens of the olden days. As such, they do olden day things, like wear funny hats, go to the theater for a melodrama slideshow and vaudeville act, and drive around in an old timey motorcar. Distinguishing this short (making a record fourth appearance on DVD) are its period setting, unusual camera and editing moves, and impressive supply of in-jokes and cameos. Among those who show up are Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, while the "Two Clever Boys from Illinois" are caricatures of Disney animators Fred Moore and Ward Kimball, whose clichιd jokes are excused on account of the vintage setting. Gladly, this short remains unedited (which hasn't always been the case) and despite or because of the disc's target audience, Leonard Maltin doesn't appear to warn us about how alcoholism is unfunny.

"Pluto's Sweater" (1949) (6:53)

Pluto wants nothing to do with the fuchsia sweater Minnie has knit for him. Reluctant to go outside and become the neighborhood's laughingstock, Pluto nonetheless finds his woolen present hard to separate from.

"Mickey's Delayed Date" (1947) (6:52)

Pluto's antics again take center stage ahead of Mickey's frenzied preparations for a dance date with Minnie that he forgot.

It's easy to tell the difference between a 1947 short that hasn't previously been released to DVD... ...and one that has. (Wha'? Mickey fell asleep in his Sorcerer's Apprentice garb?)


All eight shorts are presented in the 1.33:1 fullscreen aspect ratio, which makes sense since they were created for the only marginally wider 1.37:1 Academy Ratio. Four of these cartoons have already appeared in the Walt Disney Treasures line, with the aforementioned
Sweetheart Stories shorts appearing on Volumes 1 and 2 of the Mickey Mouse in Living Color series. The other, First Aiders, turned up on The Complete Pluto, Volume 1. Unsurprisingly, these four shorts are the best looking of the lot here. They boast fairly nice restoration work, with the eldest short, Mickey's Rival looking surprisingly vibrant for a 70-year-old short (its age makes its grain easy to forgive) and First Aiders looking especially excellent.

The four previously unreleased shorts haven't aged as well (not yet, anyway). Pluto and the Gopher and Pluto's Sweater aren't so bad. Their elements are relatively clean, leaving their shortcomings limited to sharpness and color. The two Figaro series shorts (which, at this time, aren't clearly destined for any specific Treasures tin or Pinocchio reissue) present messier prints, which are littered with artifacts. They're still very watchable, of course (even if Minnie looks oddly off-model in one of them), but they're sorely lacking next to Treasures-type remaster jobs.

All of the sound is encoded as two-channel Dolby Digital Mono. There's really not a great deal to say about it, except that for cartoons ranging from 56 to 70 years old, their soundtracks are dutifully presented. They're just as limited as you'd anticipate, but the tracks here clearly get the job done. The job, as it turns out, does not entail much dialogue, but, as is customary for the series, a French language track is also included.

Figaro will have none of this "bath" business. As if the title and front cover weren't enough, Mickey and Minnie unjustly claim the Main Menu as their own, too.


In case the previous nine CCF DVDs haven't tipped you off, there are no bonus features found here. There is FastPlay, a VHS-like playback mode which makes remote control use optional.
A recent Disney-conducted study illustrated that people love passivity and being subjected to two sets of previews, so expect a lot more Disney DVDs to deliver this ingenious patent-pending innovation.

Sneak peeks automatically play at the disc's start for The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition, Dumbo: Big Top Edition (both of these are generically called "Special Edition" as if the studio doesn't want you to distinguish among their release types as they do) and The Fox and the Hound 2. From the dedicated menu or post-feature with FastPlay, more trailers tout Little Einsteins: Team Up for Adventure, Leroy & Stitch, Brother Bear 2, Disney Princess Fairy Tales, and the upcoming reissue of Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, which is billed here as (you guessed it) a "Special Edition."

The 16x9-enhanced menus match Volumes 1 through 7, with the same bouncy instrumental accompanying animated spotlights and a cycling spectrum of color. They feature the under-seen Mickey and Minnie. As usual, you have the ability to watch any short on its own or play the disc through in the default random order.

Current best pals Pluto and Figaro agree that this disc should have been called something else. That's not to say there isn't some Mickey and Minnie in there.


Though Mickey Mouse gets top billing and prominent cover placement, he's only about the fourth most featured character of Best Pals: Mickey & Minnie and doesn't even turn up until the fifth short of this poorly-titled compilation. If you're planning on getting this, you must be a fan of Figaro and Pluto because they figure as largely as the more marketable characters who title this DVD and adorn its cover. Mickey and Minnie fans are thrown a bone in the way of three fun shorts, but those already appeared on Mickey & Minnie's Sweetheart Stories which could render this disc superfluous for this obviously targeted demographic even if they lack the more collectable Treasures.

Though a constant theme is not upheld remotely well, the shorts themselves can't be faulted on their own merits. It's nice to get some Figaro action, and both he and Pluto make for capable speechless stars. Ranging from good to great, none of the cartoons can really be singled out as lacking. Video quality, on the other hand, can be, as the lack of restoration on the half of these shorts that are making their format debuts is apparent. As is the absence of bonus features. But neither of those qualities are new to this line, so if you can justify paying around $10 for an hour of vintage animation (half of which has been made available elsewhere) that don't have a great deal in common other than sharing Disney's cartoon short sensibilities, then go for it.

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Reviewed April 5, 2006.