Thursday, January 21, 2010
#7: The Three Caballeros (1944)
The second of Disney's Latin America catering movies, 'The Three Caballeros' is a little more cohesive... but not much. It's a series of shorts tenuously held together by Donald opening birthday presents from his south of the border friends, leading to encounters from the Brazilian Jose Carico from 'Saludos Amigos,' and Mexican newcomer Panchito, thus completing the Three Caballeros. Unlike the last movie, several segments here combine the animated characters with live-action, which Disney had done a few times before, but not this extensively that I can recall. Compared to the previous film, this one feels a bit less like propaganda, and more like edutainment. Well, for the most part.
Donald's first gift is a film projector, where he watches two shorts, one of a penguin seeking warmer climates along the South American coast, and another about a small gaucho boy's encounters with an elusive winged donkey. Both are pretty amusing, basically like a lot of Disney's short subjects. Next Donald meets up with Jose, who takes him to Bahia, Brazil's capital. Here, they venture into live action territory and dance with the locals, and Donald desperately attempts to get face time with a lovely woman, which from this point on becomes his mission throughout the film. Who knew the duck was so horny?
When that's over, the two open the present from Mexico, leading to a triumphant arrival of Panchito. His gift is a pinata, and he regales the two of how the pinata is used at Christmas time amongst the little ones. This segment is pretty neat, done in a style akin to Golden Book illustrations, nice warm colors and watercolor stroked backgrounds. The three then travel across Mexico on a flying carpet; this is live action again as they hit up several locations, ending at an Acapulco beach, where Donald again preys on young women. While obviously not seamless, the animation integration is pretty good, and they were pretty ambitious about it, like the girls lifting Donald up into the air on a beach blanket.
After that... oh man... I can't even describe it. The grand finale is an acid trip of confusing proportions. It makes the pink elephant scene look normal. Donald's once more lovesick and flying about in space hovering around the head of a live-action woman singing, which then leads to Jose and Panchito wreaking havoc, then ends with Donald, another woman, and perpetually emerging cacti during a big musical finale. Pictures can't do the scene justice, it's like a technicolor mindscrew set to bombastic Mexican music. It's crazy.
Verdict? More or less the same deal as 'Saludos Amigos,' but longer, with more of a wrap-around structure, and more focus on Mexico, who was left out last time. The live action sequences were a nice diversion this time around. I can't say either of these two are satisfying films, but they're certainly interesting to watch. Especially that end sequence. I'm sure if I watch it ten times over I still won't get what the hell happened.