I liked how crafty Mickey was in this cartoon, even though he wasn't
officially "the winner" of this short. It was fun to see Mickey bugging
Minnie over how he wanted the cake she was just finishing.
The best parts of this cartoon came when he was having trouble with that
troublemaking tornado while doing Minnie's yard work. I liked when the tornado
led the leaves in a march, and later when the tornado fetched his mom to
take care of Mickey. Mickey didn't speak (nor did he have to) between the
time he started the yard work, and the time when Minnie saw the disastrous
results from the trouble both whirlwinds caused. This is a good example
of how the meat of a story can be presented sans dialogue. Although one would
have to feel sorry for Mickey, the mischief played between he and the whirlwind
made for great fun. The animation was particularly rounded and bouncy, and
the music was very creative. In fact, the work of the animators just showed
a lot of energy in this presentation.
During the time this cartoon was made, Mickey was getting less attention
than Donald Duck and Goofy. But along with Fantasia, the animators still
tried to keep Mickey functional as a cartoon character (instead of a corporate
logo). Unfortunately, his role as an active character grew pale by the later
1940's (as by that time, he could no longer be seen in a regular cartoon
without playing second fiddle to Pluto), and that led to the character's
absence from theatrical shorts for about 30 years.
Seeing Mickey fight with that little tornado is really something to crack
up about, especially when it never seems to give up. Poor Mickey had to
nearly chase it down and then get pummeled by the big tornado, resulting
in an angry Minnie and a cake in the face. Hahahaha…
Of course, I've always had a major crush on Mickey, so why wouldn't I
like this one? Or was it Donald I had a crush on? CRAP! I'm stuck! I give
this one a 9.
This cartoon is also unique because it features Mickey and Minnie with
three-dimensional ears - ears that change position. It is a style that didn't
seem to last long, and looks kind of weird when you compare it to "traditional"
The Little Whirlwind is one of those that you’ve probably seen, you just didn’t know it. It starts with a familiar gag to anyone who’s watched cartoons – Minnie bakes a cake and sets it in the window, then the smell wafts out and literally picks up Mickey and floats him along to the window. I know I’ve seen it in Looney Tunes shorts as well, but it’s still funny.
Mickey peering in the window at the cake is some of my favorite animation of the short. The ripples and effects of his ears and head swelling and shrinking through the glass of the window is ingenious. It serves to make an already sympathetic character even more so, just through the use of gestures and some fun visuals.
The deal is struck that Mickey will clean Minnie’s yard in exchange for the cake. Here is where the titular problem enters the picture. The whirlwind blows through the yard, disrupting Mickey’s efforts to clean up by moving his leaf basket, spewing things around the yard, and generally causing mayhem.
What I love about this short is the way things build upon one another, over and over again. The whirlwind first starts with small tricks, then develops an “army” of marching leaves, and eventually ends up as a huge tornado, sucking up the entire countryside. No matter what Mickey tries, the problem keeps getting worse and worse.
It’s an interesting choice to have Mickey in this short, because you’d normally associate Donald with something like this. I could easily see Daisy having baked the cake and Donald trying to get it. It would have been a very different short, though, because Mickey deals with the situation with a mixture of irritation, smiles and fear, depending on what he’s presented with at the time.
The end sequence, with Mickey perched in the fountain and Minnie glaring at him because of the mess the twister made is very funny. It’s a classic image of Mickey on the fountain, and his smile even when the cake ends up on his head kind of sums up where the character is very neatly. Mickey’s always going to try his best, but if things don’t go his way, he’ll shrug his shoulders, chuckle and keep going. That’s part of what we love about him.