Just as I was complaining about Disney abandoning 2d animation completely (even the much-lauded short Paperman, who recently won an Oscar, is in fact a 3d film that was „painted over” with hand-drawn elements), comes the news that the house of Mickey Mouse has released online (but only in the US, so we can’t provide a link, unfortunately) “Croissant de Triomphe”, a 2d short starring Mickey himself, for the first time in 20 years. The director of the new short is Paul Rudish, who worked on Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack for Cartoon Network, and the design of the characters is not the ultra-polished one of modern times. Instead, it looks more like the Mickey of the 30’s, when the characters had rubberhose limbs and simple, dot-like eyes.
Disney studios announced that they plan to release no less than 19 such shorts, each set in a different country. „Croissant de Triomphe” is set in Paris, and the film is entirely spoken in French, which makes the decision of the Disney people to restrict viewing outside of the US even stranger. I can only hope that they’ll eventually change their mind, but I’m not optimistic, taking into account the many similar licensing issues we encounter nowadays. Not to mention, the film is only three and a half minutes long,so the monetizing potential is small to none. Oh well. Maybe later this year, when all the shorts will be released, Disney will come around and allow its fans all over the world to watch them.
Not much happens in the three minutes of Croissant de Triomphe: Minnie Mouse is the manager of a cafe in Paris and she’s out of croissants for her demanding clients, so the mission of bringing new supplies falls on Mickey. The antropomorphic scooter that Mickey travels on is by far the best, funniest detail- apart from that, Mickey’s race around town has a few good gags, but they are few and far between, and a film this short should not be allowed to have any dead weight. The screenwriter of these shorts needs to go back to the drawing board.
On top of the much-desired (at least by me) return to 2d, however, the film does get an additional two things right. One, the visual style is striking and even a little bizzare, which is refreshing, coming from a studio that was often criticized for being too set in their own ways. You can see here the hands of Rudish and other Cartoon Network animators at work (Samurai Jack was one of the most visually interesting series Cartoon Network ever made, even if the stories did not rise up to the standard of the graphics). Two, Mickey is back to his older personality: well-meaning, but kind of cheeky and causing all kinds of mayhem, an adventurer. In fact, we might say that in modern times Mickey did not have any personality at all anymore and was reduced to being the mascot of the company; or even that the Mickey of Croissant de Triomphe is closer to the Mickey from Floyd Gottfredson’s comic strips than to any animated Mickey, and this is the personality that suits him- nobody likes a character that’s all goodie-two-shoes, which is why I’ve met more Donald Duck fans than Mickey fans in real life. However you choose to put it, though, it is a good direction for Mickey: he’s still the good guy, but he’s not a Mary Sue anymore, so we can sympathize with him, even if his voice is still as annoying as ever. I don’t want to sound overly praising, but I approve of this new direction and I hope Disney will continue to walk this road.