The animation lover in me is thrilled that Disney is re-releasing their classic cartoons on home video. But that same animation lover is outraged at the appalling hatchet job the Mouse House has done with these old shorts in the Have a Laugh series.
Like the previous collection, Have a Laugh Volume 3, Disney takes some of their great old cartoons and bowdlerizes them for a modern audience. Between the vile "edited versions" and the pathetic voice-over in the Blam! feature, anyone with any taste will want to take a baseball bat to the creative executive who approved this blasphemy.
Have a Laugh Volume 4 DVD Features 'How to Swim,' 'Trailer Horn,' & 'Mickey Down Under'
The good news in this set is that these cartoons are truly for the ages. Viewers from 5 to 95 will roll on the floor laughing at Mickey and Pluto's misadventures with a boomerang with a mind of its own and an outraged ostrich in 'Mickey Down Under.' Goofy tries to surf while Donald Duck gets his grass skirt too close to a flame in 'Hawaiian Holiday', Disney's attempt to cash in on the Hawaiian craze of the 1930's.
Short-tempered Donald Duck feuds with mischievous chipmunks Chip and Dale in 'Trailer Horn' and Pluto battles a stubborn present in the sweet and funny 'Pluto's Surprise Package.' Last - but certainly not least - Goofy goes poolside in the brilliant 'How to Swim.'
Sure, these cartoons are 70 - 80 years old but when you're laughing this hard, who cares?
Have a Laugh Volume 4 DVD Extras
Here's where things go hideously awry. The " Re-Micks" feature re-edits snippets of vintage black-and-white cartoons to make a music video for the Jonas Bros' "Play My Music." It's a blatant attempt to pander to the pre-teen set, and won't get much repeat play outside that demographic.
Then there's the Blam! feature, in which an over-caffeinated voice-over type jabbers about the biggest pratfalls in several shorts while showing them in slow-motion. I have four words for this guy: shut the **** up!
In a classic case of "What the hell were they thinking?" Disney executives approved severely cropping large chunks from these old cartoons and offering them as "short versions." Even worse, these hack jobs are presented in 5.1 audio as opposed to the 2.1 audio the originals get.
Words cannot convey the sheer stupidity behind this decision, but I'll try anyway. First off, in hacking up these classic shorts you're fixing something that definitely isn't broken. These cartoons have established a certain rhythm in the way they develop the joke and the storyline for maximum payoff. Hacking them up completely decimates that classic pacing that helps make them so great.
Here's another hint: kids don't give a flying-you-know-what about the difference between 2.1 and 5.1 audio. Adults do. Adults also care about seeing these classic shorts in the way in which they were originally intended, and aren't going to like seeing these heavily truncated versions. Is that clear enough for you, Disney, or am I going to have to do an interpretive dance . . . with chainsaws?
Have a Laugh Volume 4: Disney Can't Leave Well Enough Alone
The saddest part of these collections is that the Mouse House clearly believes that their old cartoons can't stand on their own merits. The truth is, just like Snow White or Buster Keaton films, these animated shorts have an appeal that transcends generations. If the Mouse House understood this, and didn't butcher these cartoons in the name of making them accessible to modern kids (who hate being patronized like this), the Have a Laugh series would be more successful.
As it is, Have a Laugh Volume 4 gets a 3/5.