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(PS Touchdown Mickey is a great cartoon, but others have described it
already very well.)
Of course, it’s also a sports themed short, which is a little bit of a departure for the Disney studio. We have seen some bullfighting, boxing and the like, but nothing with the major sports. Sports themed shorts are some of my all time favorites, especially the Goofy “How To” shorts and one of my non-Disney faves – Baseball Bugs.
This one features old time football, with leather helmets and no pads, and is packed full of gags from beginning to end. The short even opens in the 4th quarter of the football game, with Mickey scoring a touchdown. It’s a very effective opening, too, because it drops you right into the game with the tension mounting, as Mickey’s team is down 7 after he scores, with only minutes to go.
The remaining time after that is a wild ride, with Goofy in the radio booth providing commentary. As far as I know, this looks like the first time that Pinto Colvig has given the Goof a voice outside of his trademark laugh. But it shows that Goofy is assuming more of a role in Mickey’s cast, as he, Minnie and Pluto are all featured here, but Clarabelle and Horace are not.
The opponents to Mickey’s Manglers is of course, a team full of Pete clones. This makes for some great comedy as the Pete team goes up against Mickey’s team of misfits. Mickey’s team is a smaller, mismatched team, including a goat, a dachshund, a large pig and more animals.
The gags in this are fast and furious. There is some great, funny stuff here. Just a few examples: as Mickey runs downfield, his pig teammate turns into a steamroller, flattening the Pete team one by one. Another – when Mickey’s team kicks off, Mickey as the holder of the ball gets kicked into the air as well, flying across the field. That’s just two examples, but there are gags flying by in every frame of this short.
Of course, this short includes the cliché of Mickey scoring the winning touchdown, this time as he’s dragged underground by the Petes. Mickey and Minnie get carried off the field on the torn down goal posts, and manage a quick kiss as they march off.
Touchdown Mickey is exactly what I want from a Mickey Mouse short. It’s fast paced, funny and features characters I love. There’s no outstanding technical achievement or groundbreaking animation that I can find, but that’s okay. It’s entertaining, and that’s fantastic.
It's nice to see Goofy (or Dippy) again. One gag I always expect (but doesn't happen) is for that goat sitting next to him to turn round and take a bite out the microphone. Never mind, Goofy accidentally grabbing him round the neck and shouting in his mouth is even funnier! Horace and Clarabelle aren't completely absent from this short – they can be seen in the crowds cheering with Minnie and rest.
It's a shame the exploding Mickey head is gone from the openings now – I loved that crazy start to these cartoons! (Yes, the titles we see on the DVD are only recreations, but I assume they're pretty accurate).
This was a battle between Mickey's Manglers and the Alley Cats. Whether
this was a real game of football, rugby, or Australian Rules Football, remains
in how you view this comedy of dizzy play-action passes. Mickey introduces
the film with several moves that make Barry Sanders look pathetic. Just
as pathetic is the fact that Mickey was tackled twice but was wheelbarrowed
(with defensive help) into the end zone for a touchdown. Or was it a try
(in rugby terms)?
Needless to say, Mickey's first touchdown cut the Alley Cats' lead to
a very slim 96-89 lead with 3 minutes to play. The band joyfully played
and the crowd went absolutely crazy even though they were still down by
7 points!! The offense cheered while the defense jeered. (In the cartoon,
no extra points were kicked and touchdowns automatically counted for 7 points.)
If the animators thought that their inspiration was Georgia Tech's 222-0
win over Cumberland College in 1916, then we know that everyone in the studio
was totally warped.
Then again, I think the animators had some hard alcohol while putting
the picture together. A roosting section, whom incidentally screamed "Rah
Rah Mickey" as the cartoon title scene opened, was spelling the letters
"M-I-C-K-E-Y" with their fannies and showing off every feather after they
were done. Goofy provides horrible announcing etiquette by not only screaming
"Mickey made a touchdown" and "what a game", but by wobbling back and forth
away from the microphone, which made the Radio Corporation of America wonder
how this "Goof" got into the sportscasting business.
After a sky-cam view of the ensuing kickoff, the Alley Cats drive the
ball on the run for a long gain until Mickey makes a surprising shoestring
tackle, causing the runner to fumble. I looked at this play frame-by-frame,
and after further review, the player did fumble the ball before his knee
hit the ground. One of Mickey's teammates (a goat) recover the ball and
runs the other way, but after he was tackled 20 yards later, he laterals
the ball to Mickey. Mickey subsequently crashes into Pluto and the water
bucket and surfs his way in for the tying score with only a minute left
'till time (meaning, one minute left in the game). The crowd goes totally
ballistic (even the hot dog vendor and the hot dogs were jumping for joy)
with the score now tied at 96, a considerably higher score than an average
NBA game nowadays. Goofy continues his clumsy play-by-play description by
reiterating his lines again.
The most ridiculous play happens on this ensuing kickoff. Mickey held
the football so the kicker could kick to the other team. Instead, as the
kicker kicks off and loses his shoe, Mickey hangs on to the ball, crashes
into an alley cat, and lands on the field. As he was about to run, the shoe
lands on his face, setting him near his own goal line. Mickey gets up, and
runs with the help of tremendous blocking. The blocking was so good that
the lineman single-handedly steamrolled over the opposition, clearing the
way for Mickey to score the winning touchdown with paramedics following
and clearing the carnage left behind. But, Mickey then trips, gets steamrolled
as he coughs up the ball, and the Alley Cats run it the other way to near
Mickey's 30 yard line.
The Alley Cats run three straight running plays to get close to the goal
line, but with 15 seconds left, one of Mickey's defenders unexpectedly blitzes.
He times the blitz so well that he took the ball right out of the quarterback's
hands before the QB even got to the ball! Afterwhich, he runs the ball back
another 40 yards with defenders all over his back.
After the defender was finally tackled (which of course did not blow
the play dead), he continued to het mauled until he approached a dazed and
confused Mickey. He pitches a forward lateral to Mickey...and here we go
again. This time, Mickey is tackled...no whistle. Somehow the ball slips
out from Mickey and lands out of bounds onto the hot dog vendor...and everybody
is after the ball like fresh dogmeat.
After a silly yet senseless game of hot potato out of bounds, the football
players continue to wreck every place the ball was in sight...even after
it landed inside a tuba, kareemed off a drum, and found its way inside the
mouth of a fan (possibly a W. C. Fields caricature), taking his teeth, glasses
and hair with it. The ball bounces of Mickey's rear end but leaves the face
indented. Of course Mickey got to the loose ball first and took off with
only seconds to play, even with everyone trying to tackle him before he
scored. As time ran out, he finally was brought down by the opposition.
Even though he was supposedly tackled five yards from the end zone, the
momentum of the tackle carried him and the ball over the plane of the end
zone, yet UNDER the goal line. The fans celebrate and tear down the goalposts
with Mickey and Minnie kissing as they were carried off.
Based on everything that went on, the final score was 103-96, I assume?
This was just another one of those satirical fantasies featuring an average
Australian Rules Football score with English Rugby rules and a WWF twist.
Don't ask me how the NFL could even manage that.