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Like all the Fab Three shorts that I know of, the set up is fairly easy: Mickey’s team has a job to do and they split up to do it, before coming back together at the end. Here, it’s fighting a fire. This brings into play some of my favorite secondary characters – the firelings we’ve seen in previous shorts, especially Silly Symphonies.
Of course, the entirety of the short is a gag fest, from the very start with Mickey trying to attach Goofy’s leg to the hydrant rather than the hose, all the way to the end where Clarabelle gets carried out of the house in a bathtub. But that is what these characters were made to do, so it works beautifully.
My favorite of the three is Goofy, who gets pummeled by a fist made of smoke, and tries to save the furniture and items from the house by throwing them out the window, only to have a table circle back and land right in front of him, including tablecloth, dishes and coffee!
Donald, meanwhile, has his hands full with the firelings. It’s easy to see what the animators loved about Donald, as his expressiveness and frustration are inherently funny. When he’s chasing the fire around the room with an ax, you just know something bad is going to happen, and the anticipation builds for that. When the fire finally gets back to him, it’s a laugh out loud moment.
Mickey does not get a lot of standout moments in this short. He gets into a jam with the fire hose, shooting himself up in the air and getting caught at the top of a ladder. Again, Mickey is not the focus here, with most of the gags coming from Goofy and Donald. That trend continues as we move further along.
This is not close to the best of the “Fab Three” shorts. Later shorts like
Clock Cleaners or Lonesome Ghosts are much improved. To my mind,
Mickey’s Fire Brigade falls short of the standard of Mickey’s Service Station. But, it still has laugh out loud moments and good gags with Donald and Goofy. That makes it worth watching.
Goofy gets a lot of laughs from me in this one too, but I do think his character was better portrayed in Mickey’s Service Station. However, I think it's Clarabelle who steals the show in this one. She positively delights in her hysteria and continually clobbers her heroes. I love it when she first screams "kidnappers!" and quickly points at each fireman to show who she's referring too!